A Simple Request

A simple request: I ask that we remember—especially when war is in the air, and even more when its scent is disguised as something else—that most people in the world want the same basic things, experience the same basic emotions, have the same basic drives. People want security, acceptance, food, shelter, dignity, means by which to express themselves, and a meaningful existence. It is so perilously easy to villainize and even dehumanize the “other,” but they are so much like us. The “other” is my family.

A second request: That you pass these sentiments on, in your own words if you like, if you agree with them. A wave, or even a handful, of people asking others to remember sanity, justice, and humanity cannot be a bad thing.

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MLE’s Breakdown of The Avengers Characters

Okay, here it is:

Thor–Seems like he should be more useful. But he’s pretty and ripped, so he gets a pass. But really, step up your game or you’re out.

Banner/Hulk–While I really liked Edward Norton’s Hulk and was hoping he’d reprise his role, Mark Ruffalo was superb. How he carried himself, talked, everything was spot on. I didn’t like how the movie transitions from rage-blind Hulk on the airship to a Hulk that can be reasoned with, follow directions, and basically be in way more control, without out ever explaining this change. Weird.

Romanov/Black Widow–While still over-sexualized (and come on, the lone woman is the spy and the one who manipulates to get what she wants?), still she does have some cool moves, but she gets pistols. Big deal. The cops have guns. But what do you expect? As a character, I like her and she’s better than Super Girl or Cat Woman, or whatever that crazy Carmen Electra one was. There could have been more character development with her, but even more so with…

Hawkeye–We saw him just a little bit in Thor. There doesn’t really seem to be much reason for his existence. His specialized quiver and arrows are cool, but there is really no reason for people to connect with his story because we have no idea what it is. He’s just kind of there. And that’s sad.

Stark/Iron Man–I like him as a character. I think he’d be exasperating and unpleasant in real life.

Captain America–He’s all the good stuff we like to associate with the 1940s. And that’s completely endearing.

 Nick Fury–Samuel L. Jackson is the balls. Done. He makes this movie cool.

(SPOILER ALERT)

Agent Coulson–Yes, here it is. I think Agent Coulson is my favorite character. I got through the rest of the movie telling myself maybe Director Fury was just saying they’d called his death, or maybe it was a clone. They can’t kill Phil! What?! *crestfallen*

Loki–Killed Phil, so, we’ll just leave it at that.

Who’s my favorite Avenger? Hulk, followed by Captain America, then Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, then Hawkeye.  .  . I think.

(Want to laugh heartily? Head over to The Editing Room. They’ve given The Avengers script their treatment.)

Mirrors

I floss my teeth in front of a mirror. I lean in close and pluck unwanted hairs. I check my teeth, hair, etc. for anything out of place, especially before an interview or something else important. I stand in front of a mirror and take stock of my body–how it has changed from sun exposure, weight fluctuations, age, posture.
I wonder at how different my body and skin look in different lighting. How different I look wearing certain clothing or none at all.

As a girl, I used to brush my silky, long, brown hair; watching in the mirror as it reflected glints of oranges and reds. Other times, I labored at a mirror, dislodging blackheads and zits, and wishing I was pretty, desirable. At a similar age, I stood in front of a mirror and looked at myself, several pairs of socks stuffed in my shirt, as I tried to imagine what I might look like as a woman.

I remember in more recent years, crying and realizing I didn’t really know what I looked like while crying and (experiencing the emotions of the hour); I knew what it felt like, but not how it looked. So, I went in a bathroom and looked at myself. It was intriguing. I was hurting and angry, and yet literally seeing a part of myself I’d never seen before, but one which others had.

I take a deep breath and exhale. I am going to present myself to the world, my slice of the world in which I bounce around, dressed like this, hair styled this way (often not at all), sans make-up, standing this way. Yes. That’ll do.

Buildings, cars, sunglasses, and other objects that reflect on one side, but can been seen through on the other are interesting. The varied reasons for the existence of these like items are interesting.

The world without mirrors (or lots of reflective surfaces). If we could only check ourselves out in the occasional, and often distorted, water surface, what would be different? Would we care as much about how we look? Would we rely more on others to help us look however is deemed appropriate in our group, relying on a sort of group grooming?
How different our perception of self would be.

Reflections on ANZAC Day

Today, on ANZAC day, I will be wearing a poppy badge as a sign of remembrance.

I’ve had a lot of opportunity to reflect on war over the past few months.

For a long time I have taken a position of pacifism. Many of the people who have inspired me most are those who have had the courage to actively resist war and militarism whether they be the conscientious objectors that demonstrated courageous sanity in the face of global madness in World War I and were prepared to face the full force of the law (often being sentenced to death) to do it, the masses of people who resisted the war in Vietnam or the Ploughshares Activists who break into military bases and weapons factories to disable the tools of death. I’ve heard similar views to my own described as Nonviolent Action. My position is not a passive position, it’s actively attempting to resolve conflicts with a belief that violence is never the best solution.

I never came to this position seeking to disrespect those who made a choice to join the military. My ancestry includes people who fought in World War I. One of my great-great grandfathers was an Australian soldier who served at Gallipoli. After falling very ill at the front he was eventually discharged. Within months of his return, one of his sons signed up and went to the western front where he was wounded in the head during the Battle of Ypres. On my mother’s, side another great-grandfather, still really a child, was sent into the forests of Estonia armed with an axe and the orders to kill Germans. He would later serve in the Australian Air Force as an airplane mechanic in Townsville during World War II.

Both of Emily’s parents served in the US military and her family connections to the American military, as far back as we can tell, include someone who fought in the Battle of Machias, one of the first armed engagements of the American War for Independence. By no means do I speak for Emily in any of this (she can speak for herself), but I mention her family by way of honouring the experiences of people I know well and care about.

Currently, I have a cousin in Afghanistan with the Australian Army. It’s interesting. I’ve always been told that our personalities are very similar. One of us signed up for the Army, the other is filling in forms to ensure his status as a conscientious objector. I think about him often wondering what his experiences are like there. I bring with those thoughts all of the deep concern for peace and wholeness that have led me to be a pacifist. After all, it’s not soldiers I oppose, it’s what puts their lives at risk that I oppose.

Now I work at the Australian War Memorial store in Australia’s capitol. Thankfully the memorial’s approach to war avoids celebrating it. I do find myself uncomfortable with the attitudes of war as a fun adventure that I see from some kids, but then I also realize that those were my own attitudes at their age and that time, maturity, and education can make a lot of difference. I frequently come across members of different military services from around the world (so far including the US, Canada, Singapore, Israel, Indonesia and New Zealand) and have found myself reflecting on the reasons people join militaries. Very often they are for very noble reasons. (I may not agree with all of them, but I respect them as noble.)

What I have found as I explore my feelings on war is that I can maintain my opposition to violence and militarism and remain comfortable being supportive of those who have made different decisions. I do not necessarily agree with their choices, but I recognize that we all make our decisions based upon our varied understandings and life experiences.

War is an awful thing. ANZAC day is celebrated on the 25th of April because that is the date that, in 1915, the battle of Gallipoli began in Turkey. Gallipoli was a massive disaster. Thousands of lives were lost for no gain. Some suggest that Australia was founded on the shores of Gallipoli. I wouldn’t say that’s entirely the case, but in the disaster of that conflict I would like to think we learned something about the senselessness and horror of war and learned to be a little less trusting of those who would make the decision to send living, breathing, loving, and courageous people to die senseless deaths.

As I have spent a little bit of time researching my ancestors’ war history, I found a treasure trove of files and documents on the National Archives website (most of the World War I documents have been digitized and can be easily perused). Most poignant to me of the documents in the records was a letter one of my great-great-grandmothers wrote after hearing that her son had been wounded (they had told her basically nothing other than that he was wounded).

It’s not a very emotional letter at face value (perhaps filled with British restraint). But as I read the words “very anxious” I get a sense of the grave concern they had that they might never see their son again and that he would be lost in a blaze of mud, blood and chaos somewhere on the Western Front. Those words “very anxious” are very emotional. To me, this is what war is about.

So should conscription ever be reintroduced in Australia, you will find me with those burning their draft cards. But to those who go willingly, you have my respect and love. I will be resisting war, and will be very anxious for your safe return.

Observations on Euthanasia: Humans and Non-humans

Interesting how ending someone’s life for medical reasons is viewed so differently depending on if they are human or non-human.

When they’re human, it’s “assisted suicide” and legal in only a handful of places (unless it is involuntary, which isn’t legal anywhere). Even when the one dying has made the choice to die, it’s taboo. Sometimes people say things like, “You’re playing God. Maybe they should pray more, then let God decide when it’s their time to die.”

When they’re non-human, it’s “putting them to sleep” and it’s legal everywhere. The one dying has no choice in it. It is seen as compassionate to end their suffering, and the humans involved are not viewed negatively or ridiculed, but comforted in their grieving or, for the vets, it’s just part of their job.

Sometimes the decision for death is partly informed by how much money proper care would cost. Sometimes that is the main reason for euthanizing an animal. Imagine if we decided whether or not a human should live based on how much it would cost to treat them and keep them alive.

Since when does Prada sell fanny packs?

During our layover at Toronto Pearson International Airport last weekend, I was once again reminded of how utterly unflattering fanny packs are on most people, especially certain people, and they’re the people that, 9 times out of 10, are the ones that wear them. I know other people wear them (right?), but I wasn’t shocked as time after time, I spied a fat, 40ish-65ish woman in an unflattering t-shirt walking around with this extra protrusion hanging off their front; the strap lost somewhere in the folds of…anyway, seeing this over and over again was just depressing and made me, as an obese woman with a little thought for personal style, a tad angry at them for perpetuating the stereotype. I left those thoughts behind as we boarded the plane for our 11 hour flight. Or so I thought.

The fanny pack haunted me as I took a seat in 12 F. The cussbag sitting on the other side of Rick during the flight was all spiffed out in his jet setter best, including his PRADA FANNY PACK. I thought to myself, “what manner of fanny packery is this?” a) Why does Prada even make this product, and b) Why on earth would anyone pay  upwards of $350 (retail $445) to wear something that looks as silly as a $5 one from Big Lots? Srsly. (I’m not just calling him a cussbag because he dressed like a git. He acted like one, too. Too bad he didn’t pack any civility in his fanny Prada.)

I didn’t sleep well on that flight. I usually sleep well on planes. I blame the Prada fanny pack.

Interestingly, on Prada’s website it’s called a belt bag. Ok, keep telling yourselves that. On all the discount sites I found, it’s called a “Prada fanny pack.”

Life Update: Israel Bound

Today marks two months until we travel to Jaffa, Israel to stay at the Maine Friendship House for five months. If you’re going to be in the Tel-Aviv area during that time, look us up and pop over for tea! Seriously, we like visitors. While there, you can explore the 19th-Century New England-style home built by a small group of Christian zionist settlers who sailed from Jonesport, ME to Jaffa, Israel in the 1860s.

More details to come, and of course, we’ll blog lots about our experiences there.