Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm Barreling Down the Road That Takes Me From Princess to Evil Queen

…Because every young and beautiful princess always was and always will be a young and beautiful princess, and every wicked ugly step-mother always was and always will be a wicked and ugly step-mother.
 This story begins at “…and they lived happily ever after,” because time is cyclical and it all comes back full circle. Fair skin fades in time and once out of the forest, the world is a much larger place. The dreams and the adventures we were promised just fade to dust as time goes by and the opportunities dry up.  Glass slippers were never designed to go the distance.
What’s worse than the story of the princess post ever after,  is the story of the rest of us.  Out of hundreds of girls at the ball what if your foot didn’t fit? Chances are it didn’t. It doesn’t matter if Prince Charming is a man, a record contract or Harvard . All the hype, all those lies they told us about how “special” we were really took us for a loop. Remember your face when you saw all of the other girls in their princess dress and tiaras? The sea of thousands of ravenous young women desperately clawing at their chance to escape from mediocrity and you couldn’t even get within yards of the prize before the frenzy was over.
Remember searching for that last bit of hope? Maybe He’ll notice you and he’ll whisk you away. “He hasn’t even seen me, and I’m different, I’m better than these girls. Right? Right?”
When he passes you, the Prince I mean, he looks right into your eyes for a moment and you two share that whole moment, but it passes.  It’s over and he continues on his way barely acknowledging your existence.  
Amazing how fast the fall was from glass slippers to Lucite stilettos. How love went from a force able to move mountains to a to a bitch scrubbing out of satin sheets. 
Every year now, you trip the little nit-wits running down the streets in their princess dresses and their tiaras, eyes hungry and full of life. If only now you got an invitation to the ball, you’d put all these little bitches to shame.
I understand. Never being one for poise, grace and elegance myself, I have landed here among the dreams my alcoholic, self serving, cunt of a fairy godmother neglected to bippity bop into my reality.  I could talk all day about life’s disappointments, but that’s not what this story is about…
It starts with Regrets
            I found a crows foot today. Under my right eye, and I’m watching it like a hawk, resisting the urge to dowse it in L’Oreal anti-aging serum or smearing Botulism,  E-Coli or whatever type of food poisoning burns off wrinkles.  I don’t want to get old. I fear it.
 As a young girl my options were a plenty, explorer, princess, warrior, astronaut... Barbie paved the way.  Rapidly approaching the dreaded thirty, my options are drying up. I can choose from mom, career woman,  or that chick still in the bar past her prime. After that stage, I get to pick from fairy godmother , evil witch or evil queen.  The difference between the latter being purely cosmetic.

            There is this incredible journey however, on my way from potential  princess to evil queen.  One I am slowly learning to embrace. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

When in Doubt Consult the Oracles of the Interwebs

The last few months have been a bit crazy, splurged on a Tarot Reading with WitchysCrafts on Etsy. She was incredibly accurate and you can't beat the price for $7. https://www.etsy.com/transaction/192984202?ref=fb2_tnx_title

Past: The Star, reversed -- in the past you may have felt hopeless, or without direction. It was difficult for you to imagine a positive future, or to see where your path would lead you. Your goals may have seemed unattainable. You may have altered your life-plan because of this, but it also allowed you to be more realistic in your goals.

Present: Knight of Rods -- You are currently charging ahead in the realm of creative pursuits. Sagittarius lends you his passion, drive, and physical skill, as well as speed in reaching your goals and destination. You may have recently found a creative ally or supporter who keeps you inspired and encourages you -- treasure this support, but know that you can go above and beyond even without the encouragement of others.

Perspective: The World -- your perspective seems much more well-rounded now, as opposed to the star-gazing you may have been doing in the past. You know your strengths and limitations, and you work to challenge yourself to reach goals and push limits in a healthy way. You see yourself as part of a larger community, as well as a complete individual on your own. Keep in mind that the microcosm reflects the macro -- having a whole and healthy view of yourself will make you a healthy and helpful part of the community.

The Unexpected: 6 of Pentacles -- this card speaks quite frankly about finances. It seems that you will either have an expected patron, or perhaps an unprecedented surge in sales and popularity of your work. Keep the doors open for opportunity, network in the local crafting and writing circles, and don't hesitate to put your work out there!

Outside Forces: Strength reversed -- there are always forces or individuals that would seek to bring us down. My instinct on this card, though, is that this person/group/entity is not bringing you down on purpose. Rather, they are weak in their own right, and they seek your help and support. Remember that while helping others is important, keeping yourself and your family safe and healthy is first priority. Don't let a toxic or dependent family member or friend drag you down in this time of creative passion and achievements -- try to find a middle road of helping them out without becoming part of the situation.

Near Future: 4 of Rods -- Rods, again, shows up as a suit of fire, passion, art, creativity. This card specifically represents a celebration, achievement, or public acclaim! An amazing first step for the budding writer or artist, I suspect a public display of your work and accomplishments is in your future. Take time to fully enjoy this moment, let yourself be proud and happy, and then keep on truckin' to the next step!

Distant Future: 2 of Pentacles reversed -- A reversal doesn't always indicate a negative card. Again we see pentacles referring to financial issues. Upright, this card would represent having to 'juggle' one's finances. Its reversal feels to me like a sign that you won't have to do that any more. Financial security is coming your way in the distant future (exactly how far away it is hard to tell, but you are on the right path). Remember to keep your doors open and get involved in the community as much as you can, and create a system of support and encouragement with fellow artists. You're on the path to success, and while there may be some bumpy stretches, it seems that all will turn out for the better.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Write like a man: keeping my voice and maintaining my identity as a woman without sounding like a giant vagina.

Someone recently asked me “You write like a man. If I didn’t see your name, I’d never know you were a woman.” The statement was meant and I took it as a complement, but it begged quite a few questions. Why is that a complement? If being a woman writer who works outside of ‘typical’ female dominated genres puts you at a disadvantage, why not choose a gender neutral pseudonym?  Will the fact that I’m a woman overshadow the story I’m trying to tell? Do I have a responsibility to challenge the common conception of female writers just because my voice is considered a little atypical? Does having a strong voice mean I have to eschew or embrace my womanhood? Do I really give a shit what people say?

 L. Anna Lenz is not my real name, its Lisa Fox; a name that is so ingrained into my identity that I have chosen to keep over my husbands, but an established author with the same name prompted me to create a pen name using my husband’s last name (the decision which will forever be known as ‘the great compromise’ in our household).  The rest came about because I thought it sounded pretty. The fact that it was overtly feminine was inconsequential to me at the time.  I don’t want to trick people. “Oh you thought I was a man! Well….BAM! I got a vagina. How do you like me now?”  I don’t hide my true voice behind a masculine curtain to gain legitimacy or acceptance. Although, part of me is a little less confident that this is the greatest idea if I ever intend to pay the bills with my writing, I write who I be.

Write like a man! That phrase appeals to me and stirs up emotions of masculinity, toughness, grit- angry, steel balls of power. There is a stigma about women writers; that they are, I don’t want to say emotional because some of the most iconic stories written by men are gut wrenchingly emotional, but there is a perspective difference that is commonly associated with the stereotype of the sensitive feminine that appears in the voices of women writers. Those voices can be soft, warm and inviting or cold, strong and defiant, but all can still be inherently feminine.  I still wonder if there is anything wrong with that as we strive for equal footing in society, but don’t want to lose parts of ourselves in the process. I would be lying if I said being a woman doesn’t affect the way I write. Being a woman has been such a defining factor of what has shaped me as a person, but it isn’t the sole thing that defines me.

Although as an artist and a writer, I enjoy poking at the foundations of the pillars of our society, I don’t want to go into this thinking my work has any social responsibility whatsoever. I don’t believe that any one work of art should carry the burden of needing to uphold or destroy societal constructs in order to be “effective” art. Attaching that much weight to my stories would be detrimental to the entirety of the piece and would overshadow all of the other themes I want to express.

I wonder my voice is perceived as being more masculine because I paint my words with violence. All of my characters are shaped through violence, whether it is directed at them or through the violent acts they commit themselves.  I don’t know why but I’d love to hear people’s opinions. It is a creative and destructive force that has always fascinated me. Having experienced violence both on the giving and receiving end, how it is perceived differently between the sexes intrigues me. It is acceptable (in the sense that the core concept doesn’t blow our minds) for a man to express power dynamics, sexuality and internal turmoil through violent acts and for women to absorb it.

We might shed a tear, but we won’t bat an eye when a story is told about how a young man loses his innocence through a violent act that he has committed. A girl will rarely lose her innocence through a direct action of her own, usually it is by someone or something that happens to her. For a woman to express herself through violence it is often always perceived as an act of self-defense (or a direct, mostly emotional response to violent acts committed against her) a mental illness, or as a sign of being somehow unfeminine.

Girls can be angry. Women can rage, hate and spite just as well as any man. I was always felt more comfortable putting my fist through a plate glass window than writing my feelings down in a flowery journal, but I rarely did. Maybe it’s because girls are trained at a very young age to accept our place, to be comfortable being uncomfortable and not violently change our world to suit us.  It did help me become a better writer, but I wonder if that is why I want to strut my lady bits with pride.  Every bloody fist, every pretty dress, every time I powder my nose and every time I don’t want to cuddle after sex, all parts of me are feminine because I am a woman. I am proud of the dark, gritty, guttural epic I’ve written, and I like my pretty feminine pseudonym. If you don’t well, suck my giant invisible dick.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Little Princes: What’s Right with Generation Y

By: L. Anna Lenz

I’ve been reading a lot of articles describing “what is wrong” with our generation. There is the very negative attitude towards ‘millennials’, and I believe that judging our generation by those with different standards and values is unfair and very one sided. We are different, but our strengths in the workforce, if harnessed correctly can benefit any company.

First thing you need to know about Generation Y, is that we view ourselves as a part of a community, not a competition.  Yes we grew up in a time where everyone earned a trophy, but the confidence we drew from that allowed us to feel secure enough in ourselves to not feel threatened by the success of our peers. Our parents grew up during Cold War Era mentality of competition, a deep desire to be the best.  This mentality forces an “every man for himself” attitude towards each other.  Generation Y is much more supportive of each other, we are genuinely happy to see our peers succeed and actively help each other out.  Trying to motivate us through competition won’t be as successful as challenging us as a team. Previous generations were able to exploit an insecurity to draw out productivity, trying to use that method on millennial is just not going to work.  This mentality may not fit into the old corporate line of thinking about expansion, crushing the competition and the bottom line, but maybe teamwork, connecting and working together will help businesses ride out this storm and enter the new world economy.

The generation before us built empires without thought or care about the effects on the future of the planet, the community or the economy. Growth and expansion fueled the drive for profits, success and domination. It’s a system that is unsustainable, and frankly not one we wish to be a part of and we aren’t spoiled communists for not wanting to be a part of it. Thirty years ago one could work in a company that paid a decent salary, would work for twenty plus years with the same company and then received a pension and benefits.  That isn’t a reality for us. There is no loyalty and no security. We are disposable and a commodity expected to be thrilled to be used for the greater good of the corporation. (For the record there is something so “Soviet Block” in that mentality, erasing individuality, creativity and development, and you call us communists?) Sorry if we don’t seem enthused to be a part of that mess.

Innovation, creativity and individualism are what made America great. We support local business, organic food and quality products. We want to have lives outside of work and don’t wish to be slaves to our jobs; instead we make our careers an integral part of a fuller life. Yes we believe we deserve that kind of lifestyle, but we also believe you deserve it as well.  Successful businesses will harness our generation’s enthusiasm, skill, innovation and creativity to build themselves as members of a community, not exploiting their workers and the surrounding community for numbers. We see through that and no amount of marketing will make you successful if you are still focused on dealing with us “the old way”.

We are a generation of craftsmen. I am so proud to see the level of care and craftsmanship that goes into everything we create. Just visit etsy.com or Kickstarter and see all of the beautiful things we create. Craft beers, food, tattoos, art, design and technology, the bar has been raised on the quality of things we produce. We have created art forms that either didn’t exist or developed old forgotten ones and have taken them to the next level. You can find a fine, handmade rocking chair much easier than you could have ten years ago, and there is something really cool about that.  The failure of the corporate conglomerate, big box, cookie cutter economy has forced us to be creative, focus on generating income ourselves with small business and freelancing. We want to see each other succeed and actively work towards that goal.
The crumbling of the economy kept us stagnant us for a few years, and we continue to struggle in this world that hasn’t quite adjusted to our way of doing things yet. Yes, we are taking longer to get established and get on our feet, but it just isn’t economically feasible to not be this way. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I lived with my grandparents for a year in my mid-twenties and I am so grateful that I had that time to connect with them. My grandmother is one of my best friends.  Our family bonds and appreciation are stronger than they had been in the past.

Past articles have called us self-absorbed and shallow because of social media sites. I think our generation is more connected to each other than ever.  The internet has given us the ability to become a global community. We can organize and change the world in a few key strokes, but we are also involved off line with our local communities. There is no way our generation will get a job without interning or volunteering. Studies show we log more volunteer time than previous generations and we like to be active members in our communities, globally and locally. We are earth and health conscious, like well made, quality products that benefit the communities we live in.  It doesn’t fall in line with the values our parents had, nor does it follow the values the media has tried to instill in us. We are an anomaly formed by a mix of structure and chaos. We support individuality, creativity and community. We are incredibly special and are already changing the world. I am proud of all of us in our generation and can’t wait to see the world we build.