Lioness Dreams

I’m reading a new book: Women Who Run With The Wolves (see my Book Club page for more info) where author and Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés delves into myth, story, dream, and the omnipresence of the wise, Wild Woman archetype that is innate in all women. The book was given to me by a friend from my last job and after ravaging the insights of Campbell, Jung, McKenna, and Postman and eating up the wonderful fiction of Raymond Carver, J.D. Salinger, and George Orwell let’s just say it’s taken me awhile to get to it.

I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. I was afraid I wouldn’t as the Introduction was verbose and a slightly exhausting  read but now that I’m getting to the good stuff, my understanding is starting to fall into place. I’m only on the third chapter, but I feel as though I’m being handed a sort of guide for myself as a woman and therefore a guide to life.

When reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With A Thousand Faces, I felt the ever persistent question popping up in my head: “Does all this also apply to women?” and “What of the Heroine?”. I’m still figuring it out. I like to think The Hero’s Journey applies to women as well, perhaps with a few tweaks and modifications. (For example: perhaps there is a Mother Quest instead of a Father Quest). Not to say Women Who Run With The Wolves is a female reflection of The Hero, but let’s just say it brings more personal illumination to the femininity that resides within and is more informative on how to use that energy through understanding certain stories and myths. The pattern in Ms. Estés’ book appears to be sharing a well-known myth/story and then breaking down its symbolism and characters and how it relates to a woman’s life. She also shares Jung’s strong belief that the unconscious is a separate entity of our psyche that communicates with us the only way it knows how – through dream.

In the beginning of the book, Estés parallels the lives, attitudes, and instincts of women and wolves. Both are intuitive, nurturing, intelligent by nature. She tells a story of La Loba – The Wolf Woman, who goes around searching for wolf bones in the desert. She gathers these bones, puts the skeleton together near her campfire, raises her hands and sings a song so that the body, hair, and flesh of the wolf grow back and consequently becomes alive again.

The word “wild” Estés says, has been given such a negative connotation over time. But “wild” does not indicate something as bad, evil, or dangerous.  It should not instill fear, but rather remind us of nature untouched and preserved, without interference;  Life, body, and mind in their original states. So this Wild Woman archetype should not be feared or thought of as some creature or other to be expunged from the psyche but rather embraced and nurtured so that women may reach their fullest potentials and realizations.

This brings me to my most recent dream –

Last night I dreamt I was in an upstairs area, maneuvering through different towers. But they were all connected somehow. Maybe by bridges or something. There were stairs inside the towers but not many. I only used them to go between the different levels of the individual tower I was in. But going from tower to tower, I have no recollection of how I got there. All I know is that I was.

These towers were packed with people. It was actually slightly difficult to navigate. It was understood that these towers were used for academia and the tower I remember being in had an event I wanted to attend. I eventually got to the area (which was already full with people) and hung around for awhile. But once the speaker started speaking, I realized I didn’t want to be there anymore. So I left. Down the stairs and outside. But outside was different.

I was surrounded by tall grasses and trees, but mostly grasses. There was a slight breeze that I saw in the sway of the stalks. I remember trying to navigate my way home and being confused by each turn I took. I then realized there were two creatures walking about, but I couldn’t see what they were as they were mostly blocked out by the grass. Then I looked straight ahead and saw I was confronted by a Lioness.

When dreaming, I wasn’t sure exactly what it was. It was after I woke and remembered the dream that I realized what it most strongly looked like. I never fully encountered the other creature but I remember it being an orange or dark reddish color, almost the color of a fox but a bigger beast. Maybe a tiger without stripes.

The Lioness neared close and bared her teeth. I suddenly became paralyzed with fear. I wanted to run but knew I shouldn’t because I didn’t want to risk her running after me, scaring her with my sudden movements. I was too rooted to the spot anyway. It was then I realized I had to show her I was peaceful and would not harm her. I had to disassociate myself from her viewing me as a potential threat.

I closed my eyes and slowly stretched out my arms to show her I had no weapons, no claws sharpened, no teeth bared and tried my best to slowly breathe. I remember my breaths being shaky as I tried to calm them. I opened my eyes to see she had visibly relaxed. After that, I can’t remember anymore.

I gave this dream a lot of thought this morning and this is my interpretation (which I encourage anyone to comment on if they have a suggestion or idea!):

The towers represent my conscious world in the realm of school/college – that’s what it used to be, anyway. It’s becoming a bit of a common motif in my dreams as it’s something I have not completely resolved in my mind. (I’m getting there! I just haven’t fully dropped it yet) The academic world is the only world I’ve known; When you can say your place in the world is “student”, it’s a big worry off your back and you can live your life a little easier. But when you are unsure of your place in the world, anxiety can be a constant companion as it often has been for me.  But these towers are full now; There is no room for me and even when I maneuver and squeeze my way in, I eventually become disinterested. I don’t belong there anymore. [*]

When I descend the tower (descending is a common Jungian motif for descending into the unconscious) outside it is wilderness – unconquered terrain. And I am scared and unsure. This represents my view of the outside world; I feel as though I know absolutely nothing about it. And the encounter with the Lioness is my encounter with my Wild Woman, my feminine wildness. The Lioness is not just a symbol, but she is a part of me. Perhaps she bares her teeth because she is scolding me for being afraid, like a mother wolf scolds her cub for getting into mischief when teaching him how to hunt; Maybe she’s telling me to toughen up. Maybe this is terrain in my psyche I have not entered before and she does not know if I’m an intruder. Friend or foe? I think my behavior towards her is an accurate depiction of how I am trying to make sense of all this; I do not run, knowing it may hurt more than harm. I am slowly opening my mind and my arms to her, despite my intimidation. I am letting her in and I think my unconscious just wanted to confirm and validate that in the only way it knows how – through dream.

*It wasn’t until I was writing and recollecting my dream that I realized I have tapped into another archetype/motif – The Ivory Tower. According to Wikipedia, “From the 19th century…[the Ivory Tower] has been used to designate a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life. As such, it usually carries pejorative connotations of a willful disconnect from the everyday world; esoteric, over-specialized, or even useless research; and academic elitism, if not outright condescension. In American English usage it is also used as shorthand for academia or the university, particularly departments of the humanities”. I am absolutely floored at my findings. I never knew this is what an “ivory tower” meant. The fact that my unconscious already knew the towers were for academic purposes is astounding and to be honest, I am very much in shock. I’m not sure if this finding changes my original interpretation of how I view the towers or how the towers are connected to me…As of right now I think not other that perhaps the towers is how I view academia now; Overpacked, overcrowded, nothing of true interest. Perhaps I now hold a “pejorative” view and that is why I no longer claim allegiance to it. But either way, HOW COOL IS THAT?!

The Camry

A touch of bad news that I’m sure is happening for a reason I can’t see yet: The Camry has reached her last days.

I first got my 2000 Toyota Camry summer going into my senior year of high school.  It was a gift from my parents. They traded in their 1999 Ford Windstar (Embarrassingly enough, that was the car I learned how to drive with) for this old model Camry. She was dated but drove excellently. Of course there was a little repair to complete down the road, but it got me through my last year of high school, all through college, and then some – at least up to now.

One of the repairs that had to happen within a month or two of having the car was the alarm system. The Camry came with a very worn remote locking/alarm mechanism attached to the keychain. Though this was useful up to a point, the alarm system must’ve become worn with age and the remote was probably on its last leg of battery. I’ll never forget the day the alarm went off…and wouldn’t stop. It was high school, early fall – either September or October – and I though I can’t remember why, I got out of school later than usual. It was 4 or 4:30. All the after school traffic had dispersed and it as pretty quiet as I began the walk to where my car was parked – uphill on a side street, considered primo parking with the overwhelming demand for parking spots around the high school. I fished for my keys, hit unlock on my remote, and bam – The alarm began blaring full blast. I pressed unlock again, lock, unlock again. No use, alarm still going off. In a normally quiet residential area, people started to stare as it looked like I was breaking in to my own car! I took the key and unlocked the door. It opened. I slid inside, put the key in the ignition, and attempted to start it. No use. The alarm must’ve had a mechanism in place preventing the engine from starting when going off. Feeling helpless, I remember calling my mom in a panic. Eventually it stopped and I was able to start the car and drive away, attempting to hide my embarrassment. A similar alarm fiasco happened another time after this at home and then I demanded the system be taken out. I laugh about it now.

The Camry has a lot of memories associated with her because she was my first car. I only got into minor two accidents with her – The first, I was slightly sideswiped by my grandmother’s landscaper one evening coming home from work. Not my fault. I was making a left and he impatiently tried to go around me as I turned. The damage was only superficial. What was interesting about that (besides him being a total ass) was that I didn’t know it was my grandmother’s landscaper. It wasn’t until he came into her house to get paid a week or two after the accident that he saw my high school senior picture proudly displayed on her dining room table that he recognized me. Naturally, my grandmother informed us all and now we’ll never forget.

The second accident was partly my fault. Early morning on a double-laned street, I attempted to change lanes from right to left, going around a school bus. The left lane was empty, the light was red, and the three cars in front of me had just done the same thing. While straightening out, the light turned green and a Mercedes-Benz zoomed out of nowhere blaring its horn going about 50 mph in a 25-35 mph zone threatening to crash into me. I freaked, cut the wheel too hard, and my headlight hit the metal bumper of the school bus. I was mortified. The headlight took awhile to replace though as the tsunami/earthquake natural disaster had recently struck Japan. Thankfully insurance paid for everything.

In the Camry I drove carpools to shows, came to the rescue and picked up drunk friends, and shed many a tear in the midst of a deep conversation. I ventured to the shore, chatted with friends before their full year abroad, and blasted my fair share of Saves The Day, Kevin Devine, Into It. Over It., Elliott Smith, et al with the windows down and my sunroof open especially after a long day of school or work.

What I really loved about the Camry was the cassette player. About a year ago, I found out it couldn’t really play cassettes. It was pretty shot. But for a few good years I was able to use a cassette adapter to plug in my iPod and phone. It expanded so many listening possibilities. But like everything else I guess, it started to crap out within in the past two years making an annoying clicking noise, stopping, and spitting out the cassette. It was good while it lasted though.

What sealed the Camry’s fate was a rusty exhaust pipe and catalytic converter. The cost of replacement is almost what the car is worth. It’s not a problem I can ignore. It’s necessary equipment for the car to run. We’ve decided to sell it and maybe down the line buy or lease a new car, maybe one for my mom and I to share. Nothing’s definite though. Today I’m heading over to the garage to clean all my things out of it. I accept that it’s gone but I’m not used to the fact that I’ll have to rely on rides from others for a time. When I go to food shopping, the library, or the bank I’ll have to walk. I’m not used to that idea.

I was saying to my mom a few mornings ago as she was driving me to the train how the older I get and the more independent I try to be, the more I end up having to rely on others. It frustrates me. Because I  always thought in your twenties you were supposed to be someone and be yourself and make things happen to advance your life and “career” (whatever that means anymore). It’s like there’s a large rubber band around my waist and every time I run forward, I get snapped back. But sometimes we fight so hard that at times like these we must lay down the sword and accept what’s to come. What happened with my car was out of my hands and I cannot change it. I can only move on from this and hold on to the 5-6 years of memories that the Camry gave me. It’s the end of an era, but hopefully this will pave the road for better things ahead.

How to Blow Your Nose in Public

It’s January, it’s cold – it’s cold and flu season. Coughs, sniffles, sore throat, runny nose, phlegm and mucus – Who’s hungry?

I don’t mean to unceremoniously sound the alarm (or honk my horn for that matter), but this is a issue I’ve been debating for a few weeks now as I unattractively stumble down the New York City streets with tears streaming down my face (which later transform into baby icicles) and my nose running like it has its own train to catch. Sometimes I ashamedly bury my face in my scarf trying to breathe some life into the numb, frostbitten lower half of my face while casually hiding the fact that I have Flubber coming through my nostrils. What’s worse I can’t even feel the swamp that resides over my upper lip because of these polar temperatures! My hand are two blocks of ice buried in two layers of gloves and as I blindly reach for an already used tissue in my jacket pocket, my headphones pop out of my phone and I being to juggle dabbing my rose, replugging in my headphones, and attempting to access my all-touchscreen phone to replay the music I was listening to. On occasion I’ll throw in a little balance challenge because I’m maneuvering through snowy and icy New York in sneakers. But I have to say when it all comes down to it, I end up trudging down 7th Ave doing the best I can, hoping no one is looking at me, praying I don’t run into anyone I know. How many more days ’til Spring?

Last week I was on the PATH heading down to Christopher St. and the time came – I had to blow my nose during a semi-rush hour on public trans. I couldn’t breathe right and I could feel that all too familiar trickle…Well out comes my tissue and the dirty looks I got, GWORL LET ME TELL YOU! If you ever needed to part a crowd, blowing your nose and maybe screaming, “Oh my God, I’m gonna throw up!” will probably get the job done. You feel everyone’s eyes squint at you in disgust as they minimally shuffle away and then avert their eyes to judge you as discreetly as possible. So that’s when I put my Ego aside, tuck my consciousness in the right-hand drawer in my head, and put a blindfold over my feelings. Listen, honey – I don’t blow my nose to look pretty. The noisy clearing of my sinus and nasal cavities is not the new mating call and never will be. I mean, would you rather I just let it slide down my face? But I know as soon as I sound I’m automatically labeled as a diseased, germ-carrying, terminally ill rat. But the best part is when roles are reversed, I’m disgustedly shuffling away from you too. I don’t want your disease. Ew, gross!

I’ve often wondered what the hell the proper nose-blowing etiquette is. It’s too loud and messy to be polite in any way, shape, or form. Ick! A 6-year-old Yahoo! article says it should be done quietly in private with your own tissues and with washing your hands afterwards. Oh yeah and don’t look at the tissue…Like that needs to be said. Well luckily I check out on all of these – when I’m comfortably settled in somewhere like at home, except at home I could be as loud as I want. But when I’m on the street in the blistering cold, what then?! Where shall we turn? Is there a savior among us commoners who could potentially save the human race from the future embarrassment from blowing their nose in public?

I Don’t Know Why I’m Writing This

You ever look at your Twitter feed and be like, “Oh my gosh. What should I care about first?”

It’s overwhelming, all the things that suddenly demand our attention.

Even this post, my blog in general – Here I am, demanding your attention for fear this should fall on deaf ears or blind eyes or ignorant minds.

And I think this recent weirdness, which is unavoidable with the advancement of the Internet and our growing understanding and reinvention of it, plays a role in preventing ourselves from finding out who we really are.  At least that’s my perspective.

I’ve grown up with computers throughout a majority of my natural born life and it’s still this phenomenon that I find is always changing, a phenomenon everyone pretends to be so sure about and really has no idea, just a superficial knowledge.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I don’t know what I’m complaining about. All I know is that I needed to put something out there to ease the tension in my mind. I’ve recently realized I need to be somewhat involved, if not constantly involved, in some sort of creative output. I’ve recently been getting frustrated with my primary output, music, because I feel it takes too long for me to get my ideas out and put them together. But more often than not, music has always been my therapeutic fallback, reliable through and through to quell the unease in my heart. Writing comes a close second. When I really feel moved by something and want to speak, words come easy to me. I can write or type things quickly and then have something to show for it within a reasonable amount of time. I haven’t delved into fiction in awhile, but I’ve been thinking of taking it back up again. Baking and cooking is also a favorite of mine. It’s a type of creation that relies on effort, skill, and feedback from the tasters, yourself included. Is this good? Do people like this? How can I do better? Do I like this? Am I proud of myself? Was this too easy? Too hard? Did you know Elliott Smith worked in a bakery for a time?

But to get back to the Internet – It’s this popularity contest, you see?

Sometimes I get into these writing modes and I just free write (with a PEN and pages of notebook PAPER!). But I can’t help but make it lyrical sometimes, even tossing in a more than a few rhymes. I think it could best be described as a stream of consciousness to what I’m feeling or what’s going on around me, but it’s too long to be a song. There is no verse or chorus or bridge. And I just go on for pages and pages with no end in sight until I tire out or resolve whatever inner conflict seems to be dwelling inside me. But anyway, one night I came up with this line that I remember just tumbling out of my pen: “Computers extend high school” and looking back, I just feel that’s so true. We’re constantly being updated with the intimate intricacies of people’s lives, rumors, gossip (whether it be personal or political), trivial pictures and videos, bombarded with news headlines that all start out as “BREAKING“, stupid .gifs, suddenly finding out I can stream ‘The Fox and the Hound’ illegally from YouTube, having my attention span broken again and again like I’m procrastinating a homework assignment I don’t even have. But what am I procrastinating? Life? Is that it? Is that what we all do when we reach for our phones perhaps like a smoker reaches for a cigarette? A alcoholic reaches for a drink? (etc) Have you ever tried to go a day without eating bread or just eating fruits and vegetables or no meat? Have you ever tried to go a day without looking at your phone? It’s hard! What is the defining factor of addiction? What bands am I supposed to be caring about? What shows am I supposed to be watching? Will there be a Buzzfeed article that will tell me, conveniently illustrated with reaction .gifs for every cleverly concocted line?

I never know what to look at first because I get so easily overwhelmed that I cannot care. That used to happen to me in high school a lot. I would get so overwhelmed and stressed with my workload that I would just say, “Fuck it,” and take my time doing would I could and if I couldn’t get to everything, “Fuck it,” and that was that. But that was high school and this is the rest of my life. See, and the kicker to all of this is there is no way you can cut any of this out of your life because this is the norm, this is the status quo. You have to be Internet savvy these days for jobs, networking, communicating. People are getting rid of their TVs, their house phones. This is the new hub of communication. Most of my icebreaking when meeting people well-known or otherwise has all gone down on Twitter. And now we’re back to square one: I am stuck in an endless cycle of social media, an information avalanche that I cannot break out of without destroying my online presence which since 2005 has sneakily become a part of who I am because it has influenced nearly everything I do and say. I would be a Luddite to protest the ingenuity of technology and to cower into the cave where our neanderthal ancestors once dwelled, disconnected from the 1s and 0s of our postmodern time.

I cannot live as a person unless I have some ball of electricity buzzing at my center. Perhaps what I’m describing is a transcendent sensation and words cannot do it justice, but for the time being that’s as accurate as I can describe it. That electrical light went out today for a few hours and I felt completely and utterly helpless.  No direction to turn, nothing to do. TV is not satisfying, music is not satisfying, reading is not satisfying, menial housework is not satisfying, video games are a bore, it’s too much effort to do anything. I become unmotivated and stoic, begrudgingly sipping water and nursing this sore throat I currently have with tea and honey. If I were to drive, where would I go? If I were to purchase something with my slowly decreasing funds, what would I buy? I take no pleasure in obtaining material goods unless I have a proper use for them. I need a finish line in my life or I cannot not get up, will not get up. Call it purpose, the desire for experience, or whatever other name you see fit.

When it comes to the dreaded job search, I am overqualified or not experienced enough and when we are given the tempting promise of entrepreneurial life we know it is just fruit from The Tree of Knowledge – something forbidden we think tastes so sweet but is actually more trouble than it’s worth, at least to me. I feel restricted and tied. I am trying to make a sound but it’s as if I haven’t even opened my mouth.

This is 23-year-old me, struggling to make peace with my world around me and it’s hard. It’s confusing. I am trying to move forward, yet I feel like I’m just spinning in a circle. I am trying to get somewhere not knowing where that is, other than knowing it is somewhere other than here. Strange to think our time for “Coming of Age” has passed when I feel as though it hasn’t even begun.

The Kid In The Corner With The Eyeglasses On

I’m 23 years old and sometimes I still get that feeling I don’t fit in.

There’s an awkwardness that accompanies me everywhere I go.

An uncertain hesitation that constantly occupies my mind.

Some days it’s easier to sweep under the rug.

I think belonging and acceptance are quintessential to life

because think about the times when humans roamed the Earth as nomads;

We were part of clans, tribes, families. We traveled, laughed, cried, suffered, and died together.

We were part of a community that aided our physical and mental selves.

It’s a different type of loneliness that I could probably cry in the dark to.

There’s always two sides to every coin,

three sides to every story,

and an infinite number of feelings that get so easily trampled on by the slightest movement.

A moving rainbow swirling in and out. A spiral.

The “cool” factor so convincingly persuades me that high school never ended. It’s still ongoing:

There’s an in-crowd to every clique, to every clique a flag

waved in your face – A reminder you don’t belong.

With all our resources tapped out,

when we stand in the dark naked

staring ourselves down in the mirror,

trying to reach out and touch our own soul,

who are you then?

That’s what I’m trying to figure out.