Tag Archive | pop culture

The Many Faces of Courage

When the Vanity Fair “Call Me Caitlyn” cover came out, it took the internet by storm.  Literally every social media site was flooded with her images, and it seemed that everyone from politicians to hair stylists had an opinion about her transformation from Bruce to Caitlyn. I was happily surprised that the bulk of the reactions were supportive and complimentary.

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Most commented on her physical appearance – how elegant and stunning she looked in the pictures.  And while I agree it’s hard not to be envious of her gorgeous legs (that no amount of cycling or squatting could EVER earn me) , that wasn’t my first reaction.  I was absolutely blown away by the courage it took for her to decide that after 65-years, she was finally going to show the world who she really was.

Showing the world your uncensored, genuine self can be incredibly HARD.  It makes you totally vulnerable to a world of criticism and judgment; but when that brave decision is made, it has a ripple effect.  Marianne Williamson once wrote, “….As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others….”

To me, you can’t compare or quantify this kind of courage because everybody’s journey is different – what takes courage for one person, might come easily to another.   It can’t be measured by a calculator, ruler, or Richter scale, but that is exactly what people in social media are trying to do right now.  As the sun set on Caitlyn’s first day in the world, the fickle tides of the internet turned against her.  Once her nomination for the Arthur Ashe award for courage was announced, people were quick to point out how her courage paled in comparison to others.

*** My point of contention is that there are NO pale shades of courage *** 

Courage by its very nature is bold and bright – which is why it makes the world seem more radiant and hopeful when we witness it.  When fear presents itself to someone and they don’t back down, that act of bravery deserves our kudos, not our condemnation.  Not only because of the courage it takes to face fear head on, but also because of the inspiration it provides to others.  Along with Caitlyn, there are so many other beautiful faces of courage – each one causing its own amazing ripple effect in an otherwise weary world.  ALL equally magnificent and awe inspiring:

1.  A 5-year old who puts a smile on his face and decides to kick cancer’s ass like a ninja turtle….  

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2.  A woman facing the remainder of her life without the man she spent over 68-years loving….

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3.  The woman who endures stares and snide comments while she fights to get her life back….

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4.  The police officers and firefighters who stare fear down every time they go to work…. 

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5.  The shy kid who stands up to the bully who has made his life a living hell….

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6.  The athlete who isn’t deterred by words like “disability” or “handicap”…. 

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7.  The woman who leaves her abuser in search of a life where love doesn’t equal pain….

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8.  The teenager who rises above the influence of her peers and dares to be different….

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9.  The social activist who doesn’t just dream of a better world, she makes it a reality…. 

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10.  The soldier who knows the true meaning behind the phrase “No man left behind”…. 

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It’s my hope that you’ll remember Caitlyn and the rest of these beautiful faces the next time you encounter ANY act of courage.  Then instead of trying to belittle or compare that act against others, just say a simple word of thanks because they all shine a collective light that makes our whole world brighter.

And for that, I’m incredibly grateful to every one of them.

 

Other Related Articles:

Introducing Caitlyn Jenner

Cheer Caitlyn, But Learn About Nicoll and Marichuy

This Viral Facebook Post About Caitlyn Jenner Taught Everyone a Lesson in Irony

No, A Disabled Vet Was Not Second Place For Arthur Ashe Courage Award 

Jeff Bridges: The New Voice of My Nightmares

I lost myself on a weird internet tangent while playing around on Facebook yesterday. I glanced over at the “trending” part of my home page and saw that actor Jeff Bridges had recently released an album designed to help people fall asleep (you might have seen his commercial about it during the Super Bowl). I thought to myself, “Hey, I like sleep and I like Jeff Bridges!” So I clicked on the link and checked it out.

I was expecting him to guide me through some gentle meditation exercise or perhaps play some soft music mixed with the sounds of nature.  It wasn’t like that.  AT ALL.  To me, it felt like somebody killed the real Jeff Bridges, buried him in Stephen King’s pet cemetery, and he was resurrected into some weird, creepy version of himself. Then that zombie made the executive decision to scare the crap out of people with insomnia. I listened to the tape with my ten-year old son, and after the first few tracks he looked at me and said, “Worst. Lullaby. Ever.”

I guess I should have been forewarned about the creepy nature of the tape by one of the pictures Jeff Bridges used to promote it. He looks like he wants to eat my liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti…..

 

People taste extra yummy when they’re sleepy.

People taste extra yummy when they’re sleepy.

 

But if Mr. Lecter didn’t make you feel all snug and ready to sleep, you could scroll your way passed that and go directly to the other image on the album that he thought might lull you. The caption he put on the opposite page of this picture is “Sweet dreams, friend”. Yeah, not bloody likely…..

 

This guy might be the most awake person EVER.

This guy might be the most awake person EVER.

 

I’ll spare you the hour it takes to listen to the whole tape (and the resulting night terrors), and highlight my favorite parts for you.  You NEED to hear these tracks.  Seriously.  I can’t be the only one in the world who’s stuck with this weird stuff echoing around inside my brain.  After you click on the link below and scroll down to the album, I encourage you to read my brief synopsis of each track before you listen to it.

 

And now friends, you are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound, but also of some really messed up shit.  Welcome to Jeff Bridges’ sleep tape twilight zone:  Sleep Tape Link

 

INTRODUCTION (GOOD EVENING):  I can only assume that some major drugs were smoked, injected, or snorted off a hooker’s ass before making the introduction to this tape.  Jeff talks about all the deep and profound implications behind words like “sleep” “sharing” and “tapes”.   I guess he was just covering his bases in case his audience didn’t happen to have the vocabulary of a five-year old.

 

SLEEP, DREAM, WAKE UP: If Edgar Allan Poe were to ever collaborate on a sleep tape, this track would be the resulting byproduct. Apparently, Jeff and Edgar want to destroy any hope you may have of ever getting another good night’s sleep.

 

HUMMMMMM: This track is exactly what it sounds like – he hums for you. Except this is not the Marvin Gaye, deep, melodic sort of hum. This is the guy on the subway wearing headphones, humming along to his iPod, and not realizing that he’s annoying the crap out of everyone else around him sort of hum.

 

SEE YOU AT THE DREAMING TREE: This track sounds like he recorded it at a playground. There’s a lot of chaotic background noise of kids playing and jabbering on. Jeff, I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but most parents barely tolerate the sounds of their own children, much less other people’s. I can think of nothing less soothing to fall asleep to…. except maybe your humming.

 

IKEA: On this track Jeff talks about death and the bizarre things he wants to have happen to his remains after he’s gone. By putting this information on a sleep tape, I can only assume that his mother was Morticia Addams and had some really fucked up notions about what constituted pre-bedtime chit chat.

 

FEELING GOOD: His heart was in the right place with this track. He simply wanted to list all the things about you that make you the wonderful person that you are. So he goes on to talk about your awesome ability to predict when the light is going to turn green, how well you order food at a restaurant, and how much the night janitors at your workplace love your clean desk. Ummm, thanks? But you could’ve just told me what pretty eyes I have.

 

After that peculiar peek into Jeff Bridges’ brain, I feel compelled to try and make up for dragging you along on that weird expedition by showing you a hysterical version of this sleep tape that was put out by a video blogger named VlogRay.  Laugh well, Friend…..

 

Sigh…. I Miss the Pole Dancing Days

No, not MY pole dancing days.  I’m a 40-year old woman with two herniated discs – if I attempted to pole dance, there’d have to be a chiropractor and a bottle of Vicodin on standby.  I’m talking about Miley Cyrus’ pole dancing days….

I miss this Miley -  the one who still enjoyed wearing pants.

I miss this Miley –
the one who still enjoyed wearing pants.

Honestly, when Miley decided to pole dance to her hit song “Party in the USA” at the Teen Choice Awards back in 2009 I wasn’t all that scandalized.  She took a 3-second dip on the pole, and suddenly everyone was treating her like she gave Mickey Mouse a blow job on stage.

I took it for what it was – a 16-year old trying to let the world know that she wasn’t a little girl anymore.  Personally, I think it would’ve been more disturbing if she were still trying to play Hannah Montana at the age of 25.

Given the over merchandizing and popularity of her hit Disney TV show, it was bound to be difficult for her to break free from the squeaky-clean Hannah Montana mold that she was kept in for four years.

Look - even LONGER pants!!

Look – even LONGER pants!!

Part of me was sad to see Hannah go because it meant that my daughter Meghan, who grew up right along side Miley, wasn’t a little girl anymore either.  Even though Meghan isn’t straddling any poles, it’s obvious that she’s no longer the excited 9-year old that dragged me to see the Hannah Montana: Best of Both Worlds concert back in 2008…. although that shrieking little girl makes an appearance every now and then when Justin Bieber is around.  (I’ve been dragged to that concert too.)

So would Meghan continue to idolize Miley during their transition into teenage/ young adulthood?  I got my answer the night of the MTV Video Music Awards a couple of nights ago when Miley put on this performance….

MTV Video Link

It was clear to me (and probably the rest of the world) that Miley was officially hammering the final nail into Hannah Montana’s coffin…. with her ass.  I had a bewildered look on my face as I stared at my TV screen while Miley shook her ass in front of everyone on stage like a feral cat in heat.  Meghan was kind enough to dispel my confusion by telling me that Miley was doing the latest dance move called “twerking”.  If you don’t have a teenager to keep you apprised of such important matters, I’ll give you the lowdown.  Imagine that you’re having sex with someone in a vertical position.  Now take away your partner so that it looks like you’re doing some kind of masturbatory rain dance.  That’s twerking.  And obviously Miley likes it…. A LOT.

I didn’t have too much of an issue with her “twerking” on TV – I lived through the 80’s and did stupid dances like the MC Hammer and the Cabbage Patch, so who was I to judge?  But the twerking along with the tiny nude bikini, her tongue perpetually hanging out of her mouth, and her semi-pornographic use of the foam fingers made me want to blindfold Meghan and protect what little innocence she had left since discovering the internet.

If Miley was strictly going for the shock factor, then I think she hit the mark….

I’ll never be able to look at foam fingers the same again…. ever.

I’ll never be able to look at foam fingers the same again…. ever.

Mickey Mouse’s skanky little sister, Twerky Mouse

Mickey Mouse’s skanky little sister, Twerky Mouse

Robin Thicke was dressed like a referee,  so why the hell didn’t he call a FOUL??

Robin Thicke was dressed like a referee,
so why the hell didn’t he call a FOUL??

She probably hit the g-spot of every dirty old man watching, but it honestly made me a little sad to see her exploiting herself like that.  I tried to look beyond the raunchy gyrations and porno-tongue to find the artistic element, but I couldn’t.  I only saw a 20-year old who was trying too hard to make the world see that she was no longer the Disney poster child.  Miley, believe me – we get it.  Now can you PLEASE put on some pants?

All the factors that people have come to expect from a good pop performance:  choreography, set design, costumes, and (of course) vocals, were all sorely lacking and nonsensical.  Miley was so busy trying to remember to stick her tongue out and hump everything on stage that she totally lost sight of actually performing.

But what do I know?  I’m a mom, and everyone knows that moms are lame by nature.  We make our kids wash their hands, brush their teeth and wear clothes out in public – what a bunch of killjoys.

I was curious to find out what Meghan’s thoughts were after Miley’s performance.  So, I tried to pick my chin up off the floor and save my opinions until I heard what she had to say.  Before I could ask, Meghan simply said “Oh Miley, no.  Just….. no.”  I could tell in that moment that my daughter’s idol had toppled (or twerked) her way off of the pedestal that Meghan had placed her on nearly seven years ago.  I don’t think the pedestal started wobbling that night – it began two years ago when Miley started to morph into a “party girl” that Meghan could no longer identify with.

You should know that Meghan doesn’t pledge or retract her allegiance sporadically.  Once she decides to bring someone into her little world, she’s fiercely loyal to them, often for years – it’s like the Meghan mafia.  You talk shit about her idols, and you might wake up to find your beloved pet’s severed head in bed beside you.  Which is why I think it was really hard for her to let Miley go.  All of her Miley memorabilia is still in her bedroom, but instead of decorating her walls, it sits in a corner of her closet – small remnants from her childhood that she can’t quite bring herself to throw away.

I wonder who her next idol will be…. I just hope it’s someone with a shorter tongue and longer pants.

5 Side Effects of Living With a Belieber

Even if you’re not a girl under the age of sixteen (or the parent of one), chances are you’ve at least heard of the pop singer, Justin Bieber.  In the last three years, he has gone from an anonymous Canadian teenager to a globally recognized superstar.  At the mall, it’s hard to walk ten feet without seeing his face on a piece of merchandise – even on coffee mugs, which makes no sense to me.  Since when do twelve-year olds drink coffee?  I suppose they could be for adults… but that’s a thought too horrifying to contemplate.

When caffeine isn't enough to get your heart racing.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites dedicated to the adoration and idolization of this eighteen-year old boy.  Over zealous Bieber fans, dubbed “Beliebers”, can’t seem to get enough of him.  I know, because my thirteen-year old daughter, Meghan, is one of them.

If DaVinci had Justin Bieber to look at, the Mona Lisa never would have been painted.

Those that have a Belieber residing under their roof know what a test of patience it can be.  For those of you that don’t (lucky bastards), I’ll give you a glimpse into my hormonally charged world.  Here are the side effects of living with a Belieber:

1.  Barnes & Noble induced bankruptcy:  

Meghan knows no limits when it comes to books on the subject of Justin Bieber.  Even though the kid is barely old enough to vote, he has already written an autobiography entitled First Step 2 Forever.  There have also been dozens of books written about Justin by other authors.  That’s right, I said dozens – and Meghan wants them all.  That doesn’t mean she gets them all…. at least not until she gets a job to help support her Bieber habit.

Can you say adorably redundant?

And if the books aren’t enough to satisfy your Belieber’s obsession, there are also magazines.  Do you know how many teen magazines are out there?  Thankfully, not as many as there are Bieber biography books, but certainly more than there were when I was a teenager.   And most of the magazines have Justin somewhere between the pages, which means more pictures and posters for Meghan to add to her bedroom walls.  Her room is a veritable Bieber shrine…. all Beliebers that come to worship must leave their purple sneakers at the door.

Move along.... nothing obsessive to see here.

2.  The shrieking….oh God, the SHRIEEEEKING!!:  

I am constantly assaulted by ear-piercing shrieks at the mere mention of Justin’s name.  Every commercial, TV appearance, or music video with that kid in it causes Meghan to emit a sound that just misses the frequency of a dog whistle…. which is unfortunate for me because that means I can hear it.  If I need hearing aids before I’m fifty, I’m suing Justin Bieber for damages.

That clip was just thirty seconds…. try listening to that for THREE YEARS.

Meghan and I were driving in the car recently, and all of the sudden she let out a shriek that made me think I was about to run my car into a parade of babies and kittens.  I frantically looked around to find the cause of her apparent panic attack, nearly running my car off the road in the process, but saw nothing.

“WHAT?  What is it?!”  I asked, with my heart galloping in my chest.

“Justin Bieber’s new song is on the radio!!!”  she exclaimed while bouncing up and down in the seat beside me.

Have you ever seen that show 1,000 Ways to Die?  I bet the makers of that show never considered death by Top 40 hit song.

3.  Your nose can run, but it can’t hide:  

Given Meghan’s voracious appetite for Bieber merchandise, when he came out with his perfume, Someday, I knew she would want it.  I also knew that it would offend my Chanel No. 5 sensibilities – I was right.  The sweet concoction wafts through the house, and seems to find my nose no matter how far away I am from where it was sprayed.  And when it does inevitably find me, a migraine usually isn’t far behind.

Someday.... sounds like a threat.

 4.  Play it again, Sam.  And again…. and again…. and again…. 

Meghan doesn’t seem to ever tire of listening to Justin’s music.  EVER.  His lyrics and music have been pounded into my brain with repetition so relentless, it borders on torture.  You need to get a confession out of me?  Play Justin Bieber’s song, Baby, a couple dozen times, and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.  I get down on my hands and knees and thank the inventor of the iPod everyday because without it (and the accompanying headphones), I would surely have found my way into a straight jacket and a padded cell by now.

Dancing to the beat of her own Bieber.

5.  The countdown – it’s like Dick Clark on amphetamines:

The countdown begins when Meghan finds out that Justin Bieber is coming out with a new single, album, or video.  I thought it was unbearable when she had to wait two weeks for his single, Boyfriend, to come out, but now she has to wait almost two months for the release of his next album, Believe.  Thanks a HEAP for announcing that one so early, Justin.  Every day that ticks slowly passed, I know I will hear her excitedly announce, “only __ more days until the new Justin Bieber album comes out!!!!”  And more than likely, that announcement will be punctuated by a shriek that makes my ears bleed.

A visual aid to remind me when the next round of auditory torture will begin.


I guess there are worse fates for a parent to suffer, and certainly worse boys for my daughter to idolize.  Despite Justin’s amazingly rapid rise to fame, he seems to be well grounded and good-natured.  He visits sick kids in the hospital, puts on concerts at impoverished schools, and lends his voice and support to a lot of charities – namely the “Children’s Miracle Network”, the “It Gets Better Project”, and the upcoming movie “Bully”.  He’s like the teenage boy version of Mother Theresa.

Maybe his extraordinary empathy for the poor, sick, and tormented children of the world is a byproduct of his own humble beginnings…. or maybe when you have more money than god, you just enjoy throwing it around a little.  Whatever the reason, I hope Justin Bieber stays as sweet as his headache producing perfume.

If she blushes this much over a cardboard cut-out,
meeting him in person would surely lead to spontaneous combustion.