Carrie Fisher is My Superhero

 

There are no spoilers here, so no worries to anyone who hasn’t seen Star Wars yet. I grew up watching the original trilogy and as an adolescent me-in-training, I loved Princess Leia’s kick-ass qualities. Now as a full-grown version of me, I still love the Princess Leia archetype. She still kicks ass, she’s the founder of the Resistance and she still has a soft spot for Han Solo. I’m in. Her character has also suffered, which mirrors actual life for those of us not blessed with long hair that we can wind round our ears in cinnamon-bun fashion.

Carrie Fisher has come under scrutiny for the fact that she is older. Really? Because anyone thought that she’d stay exactly the same? She has aged, my friends, and maybe I should have warned you to sit down before I started typing, but this is the quintessential difference between celluloid (movies) and cellulite (real people’s bodies): actors age. People age. We’re all getting older. I didn’t think this was particularly newsworthy, but evidently it is.

Since when did superheroes have to be young? I’m sorry to the people in their 20s out there, but you’re going to age too. My favorite superheroes have a bit of time, gravity, and life under their polymer-enhanced costumes. Wonder Woman probably wears a Wonder Bra now so that “the girls” don’t sag all the way to her starry briefs. Iron Man has weathered and Tony Starke is still sexy as all get out.

I remind us that we’re talking about works of fiction here. The reason for the archetypes is so that we can identify with a particular character trait and then, through suspension of disbelief, ride their adventure as if we were the ones holding the reigns. It’s called “let’s pretend,” not reality.

In reality, Carrie Fisher, brilliantly reprising the role that made her famous, is older. She’s gained a bit of squish around the middle, and a couple lines around the eyes. All the better to quip with, my dearies. If we haven’t already cross-stitched this into our psyches, it’s time: we are all getting older.

In response to critics mentioning her aging person, Fisher recently texted, “Please stop debating about whether or not I’ve aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 [sic] of my feelings. My body hasn’t aged as well as I have. Blow us.” Of course, this was done with emojiis that I haven’t included here. I don’t know her personally, and probably won’t have occasion to meet her. My life’s goal isn’t to meet the people I see in movies anyway, though I’m grateful for their talent.

Nope, she just became my superhero because she is a kick-ass person. Lots of ass-kicking in a few short paragraphs, but I’m not inclined to edit them out. Fisher’s older, with a little more life to her eyes and a little more wisdom in her noggin. Do I care whether she can still rock the cinnamon-bun hair and flowsy warrior princess costume? No, I decidedly do not. She has a Resistance to lead, after all.

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Reworking a Children’s Classic for a More Politically Correct Experience (But Not Really)

To reword Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas very poorly:

          All the Whos down in Metroland liked their holiday experience a lot
         But the Grinch who lived directionally North of Metroland did not
          The Grinch hated the holiday experience, the whole holiday experience season
          Now please don’t ask why, you might offend him for no reason.

Sound ridiculous yet? I hope so.

I’ve been seeing the Grinch around a lot lately, and not just because ‘Tis the Season to Judge the Crap out of Each Other. Put simply, I’m flummoxed. Confuzzled. Bamboozled. There’s so much going on that ought to bring us joy, but we’re not really paying attention. We have fantastic treatments for some pretty scary diseases, our ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound are less Superduper and more a matter of technology – and yet, we’re forgetting some pretty important things. Here’s what I notice:

We spent way too much time recently fussing about a logo on a coffee cup, but we said heck no to those who sought sanctuary within our country.

We mock those who go out shopping for a deal on Black Friday, or CyberMonday, or Whatthecheese Tuesday, but at the same time our own Wish Lists are longer than the lines at the shopping emporiums.

I’m fussy today, in large part because I used to love the holiday season. Lately, it seems that regardless of what holiday you celebrate this time of year, you’re going to tic someone off. Not so gently, I remind us all that this is not what the holidays are for. Celebrate in whatever fashion brings meaning and joy to your lives. Well, unless you celebrate Be Mean to Everyone Day – then, I suggest you turn that energy elsewhere, like into spackling walls or regrouting tile. If a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim, and a Sikh can get together and play board games, as a popular internet meme suggests, it’s no particular symbol of tolerance; it’s a symbol of How Not To Be A Jerk.

Variety is the spice of life and for those who look, you’ll see that there isn’t a religion that requires you to be a poopoohead; quite the opposite. Most religions teach a form of being as kind to others as we are to ourselves; of not taking stuff from people or taking out our anger on others. You know, basic ethics. I find atheists to be every bit as engaging and lively as Christians, and I seriously love that my friend who has already celebrated Hanukkah will spend Christmas day with family and friends at their favorite Chinese restaurant.

Togetherness, people. We can learn to laugh together, to celebrate together, and yes, to tolerate each other. You’ll recall from your childhood that the Grinch joined the Whos for dinner and even sliced the roast beast. Not being a particular fan of roast beast, I would nevertheless be able to enjoy some good ole Who-hash and Who pudding. There’s room at the table of humanity, my friends, and I’ll give you my roast beast.

A Place to Rest Your Head

 

Home. That word connotes a spectrum of perceptions ranging from sanctuary to hell, depending on the circumstances. For some, home is the place they love best, metaphorically if not physically. For others, it’s the place they need to escape. I always hope for all of us that home is a sanctuary, even though I’m awake enough to realize that this sentiment is naive.

This is a strange, wonderful, mostly strangely wonderful time of year. People rush around in some sugar-induced frenzy to do All The Things, even though many of those things don’t really make sense or generate well-being. I’m already there if the reason for a gathering is to share company and laughter. I am going to come up with some urgent doctor’s appointment if the reason for a gathering is some obligatory nonsense. Do I really need to go see the scar from Aunt June’s wart removal? I will, but only if Aunt June would be cheered by the visit. How about the fifth celebration some dude I don’t even know is having to build good cheer (and his business)? That’s when I have a sudden gynecological flare-up. I use “girl troubles” and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I figure I make up for this social fib by going to plenty of functions with actual girl troubles and no complaint.

Holiday gift exchanges are beasts of an uncannily stress-inducing nature. I celebrate the people who want the sparkly wrapped packages complete with raffia and tastefully beribboned goodness. I just don’t live anywhere near that home-and-garden-type glory. People who love the joy of gift-giving, please enjoy. I am left confused and bewildered as to what to do on any given year for the people who I love but who are not family: my close coworkers, my orthodontist (we went gray together, so that counts), my friends, and my children’s friends who are the children of my heart.

I can usually make a decision and run with that choice, secure in the knowledge that I’ll reap the consequences, good or bad, without hurting anyone else in the process. Gift giving, not so much. I worry, I fret, I bypass worry and fret and go straight toward baking. The challenge for this nowadays is that so many of us are watching our health plans that, unless I’m including flax seed, glucosamine, and B-complex vitamins, we’re all supposed to walk away from the cookie platter. I hope we don’t, but I know we will have our socially acceptable thank-you bite and then plead some gynecological or joint-related excuse (I know I’m not the only one making the excuses here).

After a silly amount of fretting, I decided this year to make pillows for the people I want to give a physical token of my me-ness. I figure that, even if my friends, coworkers and such don’t particularly like the pillow, they’ll get the symbolism of the fact that, really, I just wish them a happy place to rest their heads and the knowledge that they always have a home in my heart.

Self-Reflection and the Allegory of the Cave

I picture self-awareness as a series of funhouse mirrors, in which the perception of self is distorted by our experiences and what we like to think of as knowledge. The goal of self-awareness, then, might be to choose the mirror of self-reflection wisely. Way back in long, long ago time, I took a philosophy class in which we read Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. His theory was that knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion (thanks, web person Amy on Philosophyser, for your lovely summary). I thought the cave allegory was abundantly cool, and also abundantly scary. I think I know a thing, but I don’t really know it. As time has passed, I am reminded daily of how true that is.

In addition to being a kind of self-reflective human person anyway, I was recently obliged to complete a self-evaluation for my job. For someone who finds giving myself an A+ and a smiley face on anything difficult, this is a painful process. It’s not that I don’t think I have exemplary skills in a certain category, it’s that I know there is always room for me to do better, to be better, to learn more, and to share more. For me to suggest to my peer evaluator that I’m super stupendous awesome is an untruth. The only thing I can claim to be super stupendous awesome at is in being willing to improve. Anything we’re passionate about is both the greatest source of joy and its greatest pain. I am a practitioner who will never perfect my craft. I’m not sure that perfection is the correct goal anyway, just innovation. Oh, yeah, only that.

Of course, I know the paperwork process of self-reflection. I use evidence to support why I check a certain thing, swear internally, and then choose a particular skill to focus on for improvement. Since I can’t choose “everything” (there’s no box for that), I choose my area of personal primary concern and detail what I would do to improve upon that. It was then that I remembered the Allegory of the Cave, all the Marianne Williamson books I’ve ever read, and my tendency to laugh at myself. I am not afraid of my inadequacy, but if I am powerful beyond measure, I haven’t been using my cajones very productively. Or, if I have, I was looking at a reflection in the cave, and not at its reality.

My aunt used to refer to certain outfits she wore as a combination of the sublime and the ridiculous. I tend to think of self-reflection in the same way. I’m a human: flawed, biased, abundantly excited about, oh, pretty much everything, and always willing to learn. How this translates into my daily life remains a happy mystery. I just cover the bases of perception, remembering that the energy I toss out impacts other people, and that they react to that.

People are wonderfully complicated, and yet we’re essentially just carbon-based life forms (thank you Star Trek for that). Yep, I’m alluding to fashion, science fiction, other bloggers, and the Allegory of the Cave all in a few hundred words. These are not mutually exclusive. They all just serve to remind me that, no matter how well I know myself, and regardless of how I actually performed on the day of my observation, I am a combination of the sublime and the ridiculous. I wore my favorite Friday outfit (fashion), included music and metacognition (sublime), and told really bad jokes (ridiculous). All things considered, that’s not bad for a day in the life of human person perceiving myself using only the senses and reasoning to guide the way.

 

A Little Distracted

We’ve eaten our leftovers and moved on to more standard fare, the events of last week gone in a mad rush to decorate and do and bake and see and whatever it is people do in December. This is a superdupersuperlative time of year, and I mean that in both the positive and negative connotations of my made-up word. Because of all this superduperness, I’m a little distracted.

In real life, I just completed a writing project (yay), and organized some of the flotsam around my desk (meh), but I am supposed to be writing lesson plans (ahem). I know I have achieved new levels of task avoidant awesomeness when the idea of sorting through papers is more appealing than doing what I’m supposed to be doing. At least the desk looks tidier, I tell myself, as I wonder when some deux ex machina is going to save me and inspire me to complete my work.

As I ponder that, I have new books staring at me, beckoning to me. I yearn to answer the call of the crisp, freshly published pages, but I’m supposed to have my brain on silencer. It’s. Not. Silent. I’m singing show tunes and planning what I’ll wear to the holiday parties I’m going to. Should it be the teal satin skirt or the fun striped dress?

I realize I haven’t talked to my best friend in about three weeks, and while she’ll forgive me, it’s suddenly vastly important that I give her a call. Well, send her a text anyway. While I’ m getting my phone, I notice a new catalog with sparkly and decorative ideas. The crafty gal in me is now motivated to make holiday quilts for my friends. Right this second. This sends me towards my sewing supplies.

On the way I pass by my desk, again reminded that the lesson plans are just a few minutes from completion. Won’t I feel fantastic and accomplished when I’m finished? Wouldn’t I rather make a cup of tea first? On the way to the microwave, my husband asks if I want to go for ice cream.

Distracted though I am, one thing doesn’t change: the call of ice cream (coffee for me) supersedes all other calls. The text messages and the books, the catalogs and holiday attire will wait. I finish my lesson plan and I’m out the door, deux ex machina in the form of my spouse. I’ll make decisions about the other distractions when I get back home.