Bleh with Barry

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Archive for the ‘thoughts’ Category

Super Bowl Halftime and Lady Gaga’s Subtle but Powerful Protest

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By now, you’ve probably seen Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show (if not, it’s above). It was pretty epic. However, many people were expecting her to be more political. And I think that she was in her own subtle yet powerful way.

 

I think that rhetorically, Lady Gaga’s halftime performance is interesting. A lot of people went in expecting her to be overtly political and to use her platform to address Trump’s politics and policies. However, I think that she does that here and in a way that puts the ideas of oneness, American for all, and acceptance into the minds of those watching. This is interesting because it makes me wonder how many more her subtle message connected with.

Starting with “God Bless America,” “This Land is Your Land,” and a line from the Pledge of Allegiance, she set up that this was a performance that was about America. Then, she moved into a line “I’m on the edge” from “Edge of Glory.” This makes me wonder if this was a move to set up her precarious position as an entertainer and the line that she’s walking here with her politics, which helps make sense of “Poker Face” coming next. As she puts on a show that people didn’t expect, she has to keep up a face that you “can’t read.”

The next song is the most overt as she sings “Born this Way.” The song proclaims:

“There’s nothing wrong with loving who you are”
She said, “‘Cause he made you perfect, babe”
“So hold your head up girl and you’ll go far,
Listen to me when I say.”

And she moves into the bridge which is the most overtly political and biting of Trump’s administration (with Pence in the audience no less):

Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.

This speaks to the spirit of those who are fighting the injustice that is present all around us. Fighting the bans, fighting the infringing of rights.

Her next two songs are party anthems “Telephone” and “Just Dance”, which might feel oddly placed; however, they work perfectly to amp up the crowd and subtly to pull away from the overt politicism of the last song. Yet it could also be said these songs are to remind that even in the midst of these hard times one needs to “just dance” not to be consumed as “It’ll be okay.” Moreover, with these being dance music, again, we have the spirit of LGBTQ being brought forward as dance music and congregation takes place in LGBTQ bars all over the nation.

Finally, Gaga segues into her final songs: “Million Reasons” and “Bad Romance.” Even before she begins the song, Gaga says, “How are you doing Texas? America? World? How you doing tonight? We’re here to make you feel good. You wanna feel good with us?” This statement and the first line of the song “Million Reasons” brings us back to our theme of America (and arguable the world):

You’re giving me a million reasons to let you go
You’re giving me a million reasons to quit the show
You’re givin’ me a million reasons
Give me a million reasons
Givin’ me a million reasons
About a million reasons

Here, we are faced with the idea that even in the midst of the turmoil and the “million reasons to let. . .go” that we “just need one good one to stay” whatever that may be. As the beat picks up and we go into “Bad Romance,” we are ultimately reminded of (hopefully) the temporal nature of our current affairs as we are “caught in a bad romance” and will ultimately find ourselves out of it.

If you team this with the visual rhetoric (of which there is so much Gaga’s ultra-fashion pants suit, the diversity of the dancers moving freely around the stage, the reminiscence of the lights the crowd carries to those of protests and mourning ceremonies), I think that Lady Gaga does protest in her own way. She brings attention to certain issues and shows us the indefatigable nature of the human spirit even in the face of uncertainty. And although she yells “Super Bowl 51” at the end, she literally drops the mic before diving into the crowd.

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Thinking on Death and What One Leaves Behind

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My grandmother passed away recently. She was a great woman who helped raise me and my cousins when we were children, and she has continued to touch my life even after I grew up and didn’t have as much interaction with her as I did then. After a five year battle with cancer, she passed away having seen all her sisters, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews. She leaves behind a legacy that will continue on for a long time to come.

When she planned her funeral, she made it very traditional. She knew exactly what she wanted and had the services carried out in the way that she saw fit. So she went out on her own terms even as she planned them. We even had a laugh at the graveside when we realized that she was late to her own funeral as she and we had said that she would be. She was buried like many people are, and now, there will be a grave that we will visit every year like we do the rest of my grandparents and relatives that have gone on.

However, I find this problematic on so many levels as this sets up a shrine that many will go to to remember her. This is the notion that always makes me a little antsy and causes me to have scruples about what I want when I ultimately go through that process that we all have to. I will tell you that I don’t want people to feel obligated to go to a place and visit me. I don’t want anything like this. I want people to remember me in the small things: a kiss we shared, a laugh, a song we sang too loudly in the car, a judgmental look, whatever it may be. I want it to creep up on them and for them to find themselves suddenly taken with it. Now, this doesn’t mean that I want people to cry (although I know that some might… I’m pretty sure that one of my sisters would if she read this right now), but if that’s the way one reacts, then, they should do it then.

But why I’m writing this now, other than trying to find some catharsis in my grandmother’s loss, is that a student video from Dorian Lebherz & Daniel Titz, two film students, came across my Facebook feed. It is a student directed advertisement for Johnnie Walker Whisky, but it is a beautiful thing. The sentiment is beautiful and is captured in the direction and acting within it. However, the most beautiful part might be the poem voiced-over the entire piece, a poem written by Dorian Lebherz & Daniel Titz and John Reilly:

“Walking the roads of our youth

through the land of our childhood, our home and our truth

Be near me, guide me

always stay beside me so i can be free, free

Lets roam this place

familiar and vast

our playground of green frames, our past

We were wanderers

never lost, always home

When every place was fenceless

and time was endless

our ways were always the same

Cool my demons and walk with me brother

until our roads lead us away from each other

and if your heart’s full of sorrow, keep walking, don’t rest

and promise me from heart to chest

to never let your memories die, never

I will always be alive and by your side,

in your mind

I’m free”

As I write this now, I find myself crying a little, which is big if you know me. There is just something here that touches on everything that I’m thinking and feeling right now. So I hope this doesn’t bum you out too much, but this is just lovely.

 

30 and Existential Crises

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So I know that I’m not the only person who has ever turned 30, that my plight is one uncommon to other people out there, or any number of other things that people may or may not say about turning 30 (I also know that age is just a number and that I’m not that old). I also get that I am probably going to come off sounding like a whiny bitch to some people, and that’s fine. However, all I know is that I have done it once and will never do it again (unless I decided to remain perpetually 30 and lie about my age, which I also find to be a little weird if we’re just being honest with ourselves). And to be honest with you people of the internet, I’m not sure how I’m taking it. I constantly move somewhere between existential crisis and zen master of aging (everywhere in between is also an option here too), and I honestly think this is okay (maybe on a dark and stormy night when the moon is full and I transform into some sort of 30-ish monster…).

Yet even as I oscillate between this mode of questioning my existence as a non-twenty year old and accepting my place as a kick-ass mother fucker, I find myself contemplating life in general and things that I had never thought about till the last couple of years, mostly deal with my interpersonal relationships and where I view myself in the next five, ten, or twenty years.

I often joke with my friends that my life is in a mode that I need to either settle down and have a family with my 2.5 kids that the government or some sort of study says that I’m statistically supposed to have or move to far off lands and find my way in an entirely different world away from everything. While both of these ideas freak me out in many ways, part of me is longing for one or the other in various ways, even as I write this post.

For the past few years, I have lived a life that has not been a bad one. By no stretch of the imagination am I contemplating some sort of wrong turn that I’ve made. I have enjoyed the ride and the positions that I have been put in to a large degree (yes, everyone doubts something at some point). However, I am very painfully aware that I need a change and that where I am at is not satisfying me to the degree that I want anymore. This is where the dilemma lies. I am constantly thinking about the future and wondering where I fit in the grand scheme of the world, and this is the constant nagging conundrum that I often find myself in when I’m looking off into the distance  and people wonder if they have pissed me of, if someone peed in my Cheerios, etc. Dilemmas like these are not easily quashed, and even as I am one who plans fairly carefully and knows the path that I want to take, I find myself at a stalemate with myself in the current situation.

My first dilemma that I keep contemplating is whether or not I want to go to graduate school. I have many great individuals in my life that tell me I have so much potential and that I should pursue my PhD in order to give myself a leg up in the world that I am now in the middle of, higher education. While there are parts of me that think about this and get more excited than me getting excited about X-Men (if you haven’t ever read my blog, this is a lot), I find myself contemplating the vast inability to know if I will truly be successful with another degree or if I will be happier with a further advanced education. I am not knocking anyone who is pursuing higher education. I love it. Education is something that I am adamant about whether it be at a traditional four-year college / university, community college, or technical school. I believe that being educated is something that everyone should have if they desire it. My dilemma comes in the fact that I constantly question whether I am doing what I am supposed to do in the world or not. I love teaching. Even when my students are at their most annoying or I’m at my most exhausted, I find it a pleasure and an honor to be able to influence a group of persons to be better thinkers and writers, yet I also find myself wondering if I really do make that great of an impact from what I am doing. Thus, I constantly struggle with the question of whether or not to continue down this pathway.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m completely disillusioned with the idea of education, and if you check back with me in a year or two, I may nose-deep in a pile of books on medieval and early modern literature. I’m just saying, right now, I question my choices and am trying to make the right decision of me concerning this.

My second dilemma deals with the idea of being where I am at this particular moment. While this sounds vague, I am referring here to the idea of physical space. Right now, I sit in my apartment warm and comfortable close to people and places that have been around me all my life, and this is a nice feeling. I have told people before about my experience when I went away to college the first time. I got really homesick and ended up coming back to a college that was closer to my family. I have never doubted this move because it was the right thing for me to do at the time. My time at the smaller college allowed me to grow mentally and enabled me to grow slowly into the person that I am today. However, in the world that I am a part of now, I wonder if living in small town USA is really the right move for me at this moment in my life. I will tell you that I have never been one to take great risks or to put myself out there in a non-calculated or planned way (I guess it comes from the territory of being an INTJ on the Meyers-Briggs test); however, I find myself more and more everyday longing for the adventure of the the unknown.

I tell my students all the time that in my academic work I constantly find myself drawn to the mystical, to the sublime in works of literature. I find myself drawn to the things that border our reality, and I kind of want myself to be out there on the fringes, to be the one walking that border of the possible (the possible here being my life and what could be). I’m not saying that I want to escape into the wilds of Canada (maybe I have thought of this… and maybe if Trump is elected president… who knows?), but part of me is telling me that it is time to find something else out there “in the great wide somewhere” (to quote Belle from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast). I keep contemplating what might be best for me, and it becomes hard to think about striking out and doing this on my own. Still the thought of the matter intrigues me and makes me wonder what is in store for me in coming years (again maybe my “great wide” will be an adventure to PhD school). Who knows?

My final dilemma of late concerns my interpersonal life, especially as it concerns the aforementioned “getting married and having kids” thing. I know that they say that women’s biological clocks have a way of sneaking up on them and making them desire this (not to sound sexist or anything [#femist4life], but I have heard many female friends comment on this phenomenon or lack thereof). For most of my life, I have been a loner and have been perfectly fine with this. I like my own company and seek to have a lot of it most of the time (again, INTJ… we don’t do the whole introvert thing to be social butterflies).

Social media: “It’s is a trap!” (thanks Admiral Ackbar for that). I see on various social media sites my peers, friends from high school and college, and various others that I’ve engaged with on my journey (Not the band), and I see their lives and how they have fallen in love, wedded (or not. No judgement. I’m not sure about the whole marriage thing anyway. Again, INTJ), and had children. While I understand that these images and the reality that is portrayed on social media does not represent the real (this is a conversation for another time dealing with the complex ideology of people making themselves out to be better on social media than they are and the idea that social media presents a false truth and causes other to sink into depression… and all that), I do understand the desire to be with someone who completes you entirely and who you love unendlessly. I understand the desire to bring a new being into this world as a symbol of this bond, this love. And for some damn reason, I have subconsciously (and consciously at times) been having this manifest within my mind. I’m not saying that I’m going to go out and get married to just anyone (fuck no because I believe in finding the right one), yet much like salmon know that they have to return to their stream to mate (and if I were at work this statement would require me to pay money because of its overall pretentious nature), I feel something tugging on me to find that person that completes me, even though I don’t know whether I’ve met them or not or whether this is in the cards for me as an ultimate reality or not.

Now, that I’ve dropped all this on my readers (who are probably scratching their heads and wondering who I am because I haven’t posted in a while… sorry), my friends (who are now thinking that they might have a mentally unstable person on their hands and want to hug me… don’t… just don’t…), and others who might be experiencing the same things, I want you to know that I’m not really typing this to get a reaction. I’m not wanting attention (and of course some jackass out there is going to say “but that’s what a person wanting attention would say”… *sigh*). I’m wanting to find some semblance of catharsis. A catharsis that can’t be reached by people patting me on the back and saying they understand. It’s one of simple knowledge of where I am and where I am going. I am notoriously bad at sharing my feelings and thoughts (#shocker), and I feel like this might let some people into what has been going on in my mind. But mostly in this reality that surrounds us all, I’m wanting others out there who might be struggling through some of these things (or other issues that are grossly different) to know that they’re not alone. You can feel, and you can debate. There’s nothing wrong with that. And even if you don’t share, there are people out there that commiserate with you across the distance although you might not know them.

And with this, I bid you all ado for the evening.

 

Written by barryr22

December 4, 2015 at 10:38 pm