A/N: Images displayed on this birthday post are not mine–Thank Goddess for Tumblr, Imagebam & Pinterest. No copyright infringement intended. Click the image to link directly to its origins. Musical inspirations listed at the bottom of post. To open the playlist in a new window, click here—> http://pl.st/p/20984139787 Posts are usually pre-read by a luminous team of Rebel Beauties, but tonight: It’s just me. These garbled ramblings in all their flaws and glories are mine, all mine.
~Merriam-Webster Dictionary, June 2010
Beautiful, adjective. Exciting sensuous or aesthetic pleasure. Applies to whatever excites the keenest of pleasure to the senses and stirs emotion.
This was the exact definition which launched the very first Musings three years ago, on Thursday, June 3, 2010. As I’m typing these words out tonight, on a Thursday evening in June of 2013, tears are paving tracks down my cheeks. Moving through the actual movements of piecing together the musical playlist, and selecting images to use for this essay provokes profound physical reactions from me, clearly. I should have seen it coming. It is without exaggeration and with complete awe that I realize everything I do these days is in response to, influenced by, or connected with the decision I made to muse aloud about Unconventional Beauty. It manifests in the music in my library, the people I speak with, and in the conscientious practice of self and Other compassion. To say that these days, I’m experiencing the ‘keenest of pleasure to the senses’: Accurate.
Molly and Me
Did it start with Molly Ringwald? When I found myself at Borders Books (Rest in Peace), I hadn’t expected the Original Poster Girl for Awkward, Outsider Beauty to be there too. I was brand new to Twitter, and operating under my now-unused personal account KJN52. One of my very first tweets looked something like:
@kjn52 Molly Ringwald is here and I want to scream about Jake Ryan and that people’s “little brothers paid a buck to see your underwear!”
Obscure Sixteen Candles reference, my friends. If you haven’t seen John Hughes’ masterpiece about misfits and adolescent longing, then I have the opinion that you are suffering from staggering incompleteness. Please. Go. I sat at a cafe table in the corner of the book store and watched as Ms Ringwald read excerpts from her new book Getting The Pretty Back to a captive audience. While I wasn’t originally there for the book promotion, I could hang onto every word falling from Molly’s mouth from my perch at the edge of my chair. So Molly Ringwald was speaking about great things, important things. About how we can lose our sense of self, especially when surrounded by people and forces willing to take it for themselves, turn it into something else entirely. Says Molly: It’s up to us to define our paths. Foreshadowing the Other Anthology, Ms Ringwald? Prettiness, she reminds us, is a state of mind.
“…It’s the part of you that knows what you really want, that takes risks.”
Molly Ringwald did not know this at the time, but she in that moment, became my very first Featured Rebel Royal for what would become a ‘blog’, then an entity, and then a practice that would alter my life.
Of course, it was another Molly, my dear friend Molly, who could also be credited for sparking the Other Revolution. It was she, after all, who pulled me out of my house to the book store with her to pick up the sequel in a series she was not exactly forthcoming about. Molly: hipster, cool, brilliant… huddled next to the store’s display table, raptly staring at….
I watched, baffled, as Usually Poised Molly, slunk around the table, and snatched up a copy of a sleek, black book with the word moon across it’s spine.
“What are you doing, Molls?” I asked.
“I haven’t slept for over a day. I couldn’t put this damn book down. I must read more. MORE!” Molly gushed, her eyes darting around her.
Ok, my usually collected reserved girlfriend was literally trembling [withdrawals?], and so I grabbed the first book of the series, and promptly marched up to the counter to plunk down my money. I was scheduled for knee surgery a few days later. I was gonna need lots of entertainment for the weeks I was to be bed-ridden in recovery. Vampires? No problem. I have a long love affair with stories of the supernatural variety [I am an OG Vampire Diaries reader, plus a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan] and I simply had to experience the stories that transformed my friend into a shaking, stumbling Twilight fiend.
Suffice it to say: I didn’t sleep that night either. I really didn’t sleep the next four days. I sent my husband prowling the city at after hours book stores to pick up New Moon and Eclipse [Breaking Dawn hadn’t been published yet] for me, since I was supposed to stay in bed. You know.. knee surgery blah blah blaaaah. So I stayed in bed… and read… and researched, and googled…and stumbled upon comment sections, YouTube euphorias, discussion groups and MTV: Twilight Tuesdays.
Seven months later, in November 2008, my friend Molly was my date on opening day to the movie: Twilight
Goddess Bless the Mollies in my life.
An Awe-Inspiring Awful
I mentioned my weeks of post-surgery recovery in Spring of 2008. During that eight weeks in which I was off work and rehabilitating my knee, I discovered the Twilight books, I discovered the internet. Therefore, I discovered The Fandom. MTV’s Twilight Tuesdays sparked an intense fascination with the chemically combusting interactions between the absurdly aesthetic Kristen and Robert. I found fellow book readers who were excited about the release of the movie, who also noticed an unmistakable affection between the two lead actors cast to play Bella and Edward in the film. A hub [at the time] of seemingly positive discussion about all things Twilight revealed itself as a forum through E!Online: The Awful Truth. Take heed, friends. I don’t mention that place or it’s creator/ Captain Shit-Stirrer Casablanca… ever. But in celebration of Musings On Others’ third anniversary, I would be remiss to neglect acknowledging its origins.
See, The Awful Truth brought me to my CyberSisters & Readers five years ago. Among them my beloved Bouffant, Robkris13, gretel, and RainierSixPac. There are so many phenomenal women in my group–like the featured #Eeeby. Yes, the now defunct Awful introduced me to people whom are now some of my best friends. I speak with them every single day. They have held my hand in my most devastating moments, moments from which I am still recovering, that have occurred very recently. Friends I’ve made through this exasperating fandom represent intelligent, empowered, Creative Thinkers in the most awesome of ways. Most importantly, I discovered Muses and Royal Rebels who encourage and inspire. Over three years ago, I met the incomparable CynicallyConvy, brilliant author of KSIBTU, and her unbelievable band of warrior beauties including the insanely talented Buff, JHiggs and my lion-hearted sister Just2CUSmile.
By the beginning of 2009, I was pretty comfortable hanging with my CyberSisters (led by the trailblazing MarblePole) in our own discussion space, separate from Awful Truth, but still interacting online with delightful, articulate “regulars” who shared the same appreciation for Kristen Stewart, her ‘deliciously handsome’ partner in crime Robert Pattinson, and yes…Twilight. I flew under the radar for the most part. My decision to become involved, was as I noticed the alarmingly abominable attacks on Kristen Stewart in so many of those online forums. Especially baffling: those doling out the most vicious criticisms were people who did not even know Kristen. Bloggers, commenters, teenage girls home from school, their mothers with a bit of idle time–they, by far, unleashed the cruelest, most uninformed and illogical bouts of malevolence onto Ms Stewart, and I was struck speechless. I am usually anything but without words, guys, you know this about me .
An anger was unleashed upon Kristen, in an unfounded, unparalleled manner that in turn, compelled me. I had to do something.
How can I be an activist? Well… I learned that when I wrote things out, or spoke my rambling thoughts aloud, people listened and responded. One admirable trait about Captain Ignorant Casablanca at The Awful Truth: he will interact with those who send him questions, make provocative comments. I could give him a bit of credit in helping me find my voice. After wading through hundreds (hundreds!!) of anonymous or monikered commenters insulting Kristen’s hair follicles, smile [or lack of], shoes, fingernails and family members, I lamented with my girl Bouffant, and asked her how we can bring attention to and then curb (if not stop) the daily bashing on Awful.
My complaining resulted in a letter (pre-read by Bouffant in our first writing partnership) that I wrote to Mr Casablanca, asking him to reconsider the moderation of his comment section, so as not to enable the hatred and bullying. . . and he wrote back. He asked me to help him brainstorm how to do this. While Ted Casablanca really didn’t implement suggestions I gave, he at least encouraged proactivity on my part. He reminded me that I have my own little pocket of power. Words can be incredibly powerful…And Lawdy knows I have them in abundance.
~Urban Dictionary’s third most popular definition, June 2013
Beautiful, adjective. The description of anyone who is true to themselves.
“Honesty is beautiful.”
Middle School Mixups
I brought together a small task group. My Team Other Captains were elected. Bouffant, Buff, CC and the always impressive Goldeneye began receiving emails from me with fragments of ideas and anecdotes about misfitting and combatting hatred…and questions on downloading images and links. I looked to CC to be my expert guide as she had launched KSIBTU to such exuberant welcome, I knew she could at least nudge my stumbling feet in the right direction. I collected memories of my first few brushes with intolerance, unkindness…and rebellion. All in the name of creating a forum for patience, positivity and Rebellious Beauty, but in an authentic, personal way. A small army of Kristen Stewart defenders, yes, but really, it evolved into a gathering of rebellious misfits needing to speak up for all under-voiced, misrepresented people.
For us OTHERS.
I found myself remembering my first experience of “media” and the havoc it wreaks. I briefly mentioned a few incidents on my About KJ Page. Since the faceless, nameless one-sided attacks upon Kristen reminded me a little of middle school drama, let me tell you a little story.
Books fly with imaginations and dreams of the Mad Ones
I was thirteen years old and, like, totally with the love of my life, Joey. I had a unique look about me, I gathered that much, what with several complete strangers approaching me and commenting on my “exoticness”. I understood that I was somewhat surprising in my appearance compared to my family and peers as I’m a bi-racial girl, adopted by a family who had physical traits the polar opposite of mine. I tried to blend in quietly, and I thought I was doing it well. Anyway, I was in 8th grade of junior high. Dreamy Joey and I. Together. He was, no exaggeration, the best looking boy in the school. During our entire passionate-for-junior-high school relationship, other girls, including my peers and upper classwomen (!!!) tried to drive a wedge between us, to lure Joey away from my frizzy-haired, book-loving self.
It was the end of the year, and I found myself very flatteringly nominated for several end-of-year yearbook categories: Best Personality, Nicest smile, and one half of the school’s Cutest Couple. Ah yes. Our coupledom was nominated as The Best. K-JO was IN. THE.HOUUUUSE.
So listen up: I won all the categories for which I was nominated. However, an odd quandary at the yearbook printers led to a picture of my face floating below the title of CUTEST (equivalent of today’s SCHOOL HOTTIE) instead of BEST PERSONALITY (the title I really wanted) in the final, massively-distributed yearbook. I suddenly acquired the drive for self-preservation, for self defense.
People would whisper and verbalize their warring opinions about my status as CUTEST in the school as I would make my way to my locker, my frizzy hair shoved into a scrunchy. Yeah, I said it: In junior high, I wore scrunchies. Girls would gather in catty, feral groups in the hallways and literally point and loudly, not accidentally, exclaim: “SHEEEEEE is the PRETTIEST GIRL IN THE SCHOOL?” And then they would, of course, reference lovely, beautiful, desirable Joey. “…HOW is that ugly mess JOEY’S GIRLFRIEND? What is she, anyway?”
Yeah. Those fucking trolls were ripping me apart physically, based on a misprint in the biggest media sensation for the time [we’re talking pre-Facebook, folks], and because I had attention on myself already, with my beautiful boyfriend, I deserved the hate, as deemed by society [middle school student body]. It didn’t matter that I was an Honor Student, an accomplished musician and a noted Peer Counselor. These vultures insulted my hair. My clothes. The shape of my eyes.
Sadly, as you can witness at any given moment on Twitter, not much has changed. In fact, it seems worse, what with the world wide web and the increase in anonymous bullying. Middle school politics are being played out on Twitter timelines [or DMs nowadays] and in comment sections [my CyberSisters call them ‘Carol Anne’s Closet’ –ahhh Poltergeist] at this very moment. And while there may be some younger folks participating in the spewage…It has been proven that the loudest squawkers and vocally vile Kristen-Haters fall within the average age bracket of 39 years old. Grown-ass ‘adults’, mainly women, attacking the character and physical attributes of a-then eighteen year old girl. This couldn’t be a case of Middle School Mixups.
Molly was my First Featured Royal Rebel in a moment. And Kristen became my unquestioned Reigning Queen of Other.
The recall of my traumatic brush with public opinion and media misrepresentation combined with a fond retelling of my encounters with My MOLLIES… Musings On Other Queens, Kstew and Unconventional Beauty was born. Goldeneye helped me outline and shape my goals. Bouffant and CC pre-read the first drafts. Buff created the most beautiful background and banner for the site and for my Twitter account (also created June 3, 2010). And, well… Heeeeeeeeere’s, MOO.
Remember when CC told me to push ‘Publish’, Remember???
~Merriam-Webster Dictionary, June 2013
Other, adjective. a: being the one (as of two or more) remaining or not included.
b: being the one or ones distinct from that or those first mentioned or implied.
~The Synonym Finder, 1986 First Edition
Unconventional, adjective. Uncommon, rare, unique, peculiar, uncustomary, unexampled, unparalleled, unexpected. Extra-ordinary.
The Heart Of The Matter
I had hoped to post this Birthday Edition MOO on Monday, June 3, the exact anniversary of its first publishing. Sleep deprivation and intense client work at The Magical Little Practice prompted me to wait a little longer . As it is, I feel very much so at peace with posting today, on Thursday, Musings’ regular posting day, and because the first essay ever also emerged on a Thursday.
Also, just this Tuesday, we learned that Kristen booked two new film projects, both independent dramas, both reflective of Kristen’s essentialness. Her Otherness. Her Royalty. Because truly, the heart of the matter is this: Kristen Stewart defines Beauty in her unapologetic defiance of anyone’s/everyone’s expectations, with her relentless insistence on protecting all (including whom) she deems precious, and in the thoughtful, measured choices she makes regarding her work, her self proclaimed love.
With the announcements of her new projects, the extreme wayward focus of the past few weeks, months, years, can finally center on Kristen’s craft.. . and for me, we can honor the beginning. And like Kristen, we can return to our roots.
Molly Ringwald reminded me that even awkward misfits can bring The Pretty Back. My Molly introduced me to Vegetarian Vampires and is proof that even typically collected & calm Cool Girls are susceptible to addiction to a wildly romantic notion. The Awful Truth blessed me with a plethora of obscenely articulate, intelligent wordsmiths, all who encouraged me to speak up, find the words, because there are so many Others who want the change. We Misfits, Unusuals, Unconventionals, and Defiant Ones don’t need or deserve ostracism because of our unique perspectives or philosophies. We deserve celebrations. Coronations, even.
A crown for my birthday celebration with the KSIBTU Crew
Today I pay homage to the sole reason for Musings’ conception: Identifying and exalting all the qualities that set us apart from anyone else. And one way to combat the destruction and exploitation of these unique abilities and assets…is to EMBRACE them.
Today is not the day for judgments, biased relationship advice, amateur psychological diagnoses, bids to become the “The Most Insidery”, or spectacularly dramatic paparazzi fanfiction. It is not the time for mass hysteria triggered by wild speculations from unproven informants. Today is for honoring our roots, honoring our Beauty Rebellion, and the Something we can DO. And this day is for saluting a courageous woman for moving onward, always, despite the vast challenges and countless detractors.
A woman who embodies all the qualities of Unconventional Beauty…
Reigning Other Queen: Kristen Stewart
Thank you, you beautiful Readers, Friends, Sisters, Brothers and OTHERS, for these extraordinary three years. It has been an absolute pleasure. You literally give me life. And Kristen? #OtherOn, your Highness. #OtherOn.
Molly is Other.
Kristen is Other.
Others return to their roots.
Others do their Something.
Embrace Your Other.
Hero ~ Family of the Year
Stubborn Love ~ The Lumineers
Blue Skies ~ Noah and the Whale