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Archive for the ‘15. Miscellaneous Writing’ Category

Intro: This is an older piece, written years ago, inspired by a friend of mine in Nepal.  He taught me about a concept he calls “Monkey Mind”, and as a way to fully comprehend his story and apply its lessons to my life, I personified that Mokey and gave him a name.  I figured that if I could “see” that monkey, I’d have an easier time putting his little ass on a leash! *LOL* – I’m posting this today in honor of the Higher Consciousness Fairy Oracle I drew this morning.  She was inverted, so she let me know that I’ve slipped, or have been on the verge of slipping, into Monkey Mind and need to remember and honor my True Spirit and its divine wisdom.

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Rabnab is what I call him. He’s male, but he wears a pink vest, pink shorts, and a cute little pink cap… all sequinsed. He carries a drum in his hands, wears bells on his shoes, and has a party blower in his mouth. Noisy little bugger, he is… and messy, too. He loves nothing more than to climb shelves, break glass-wear, disorganize cupboards, and demonstrate his one-monkey band loudly in the process. When I see Rabnab, I know I’m in trouble. It’s time to leash the monkey.

Rabnab used to be a constant presence in WendiLand, harping up at all the inopportune moments, forcing me to think thoughts of arrogance, instant gratification, self-pleasure, and egotistical authority – if not depression and hopelessness. If it wasn’t done exactly the way I’d envisioned it, Rabnab would start his song and dance of destruction.

It took a long time to learn to leash the monkey, and even still, he occasionally pounces in to my environment demanding recognition, credit, respect, and adoration – or feelings of sorrow, dread, regret, or lack of faith. Silly monkey, those tricks don’t work here anymore. Well, that’s not entirely true, but instead of reeking havoc in the environment of my mind, he now serves as an alarm mechanism that warns me when I’m getting out of control.

I hadn’t seen Rabnab for months. My arrogance had waned, humility was learned, anger was forgotten, and rather than wanting to be noticed, I learned to prefer life in the shadows. But sure enough, when I least expected it, Rabnab came busting through the doors of reality today and gave me a rude awakening, sucking me into the past and challenging me to either sink or swim.

For about 30 minutes I allowed him to control and dictate my mood. I remembered what it felt like to be bitter. I went back to the pain of being scorned. I felt a need to shout out demands, if not curse words, toward all those I felt had done me wrong. How dare they? Who do they think they are? Oh, silly monkey, come let me pet you and calm your nerves.

They are reflections, these images I’m angry at… mere reflections of my own worst traits. Let them have their limelight… we’re fine right here where we are. They don’t empower us anymore.

Still Rabnab was not out of tricks and pulled another from his sleeve, reminding me that the pain endured was no one’s fault but my own. I am the one who chose to invest time, energy, talent, and money while in search of fame and fortune, recognition, respect, and glory. How could I have been so stupid? How could I have been so blind?

Oh, dear Monkey, do not try to push me down. I’ve learned not to try to swim upstream or panic in rough waters. Instead, I’ve learned to lean into the all that is and flow along the currents. Your tricks to bring me down will not work.

And so Rabnab begins to get that sleepy-child look in his eyes, yawns and stretches, laying his head in my lap, his symbols silenced.

Yes, rest, little monkey for when you wake, I shall teach you new tricks and alternative adventures that don’t bring about such chaotic, nerve-racking consequences. Be at peace.

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Intro: This, too, is an older piece written as a writing exercise, but fitting to repost today in honor of the “Environmental Awareness” Fairy Oracle drawn in this morning’s Daily Dose.

“Let There Be Light”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2001

“The bright light is lying down – the earth and the sky and the sea. It is at rest with the ocean – and the days go by. They go into the seas that have no shores – haunted by that same closed door. Looking up at skies on fire, leaving nothing left of us to discover. And the planets of the Universe go their way – not astounded by the sun or the moon or the light of day. You and I will simply disappear, out of sight, but I’m afraid soon there’ll be no light. No doubt no pain come ever again, well, let there be light in this lifetime – in the cool silent moments of the night time.”
~Stevie Nicks: an exert from Planets of the Universe, Trouble in Shangri La~

When I lay down at night to go to sleep, I try not to think of how badly damaged our earth is. I try not to think about all the “heavy” subjects like politics, religion, education, sex, relationships, chemicals, war, drugs, violence, greed, murder, rape, betrayal and bigotry. I try, instead, to think of something positive, like walking barefoot through a meadow towards a waterfall, in which all my worries and fears will be washed away with the currents. While I’m sleeping, I try not to dream of reality’s responsibilities – bills, errands, parenting, laundry, groceries and appointments. Instead, I try to dream peaceful things in pastels, like fanciful tall tales of being a princess in a palace of peace. But, then I open my eyes in the morning to a crumbling world with sleeping adults and waking children who have questions that no one can answer.

During my days, I do what I am able – I try to live my life by good moral standards. I try to be an understanding person, compassionate, dedicated and true. I use the resources available to me to make a difference in the condition of our world. Through my writing, I express my ideas and concepts on how we can reverse the damage done to this earth and restore balance before we self-destruct.

We worry about the style of our clothes and hair. We worry about our careers and social status. We worry about our bank accounts and retirement. We worry about disease and we worry about political conflict – yet, as a whole, we live each day in complete denial of the truth. We use our aerosol cans and we eat the animals, we pollute the waters and we destroy the ozone layer. We pour toxic waste into the ground and we shoot up our meat products with chemical growth stimulants. We hunt for sport. We walk with shut eyes past the homeless, hungry and abused. We have lost respect for ourselves. We have become comfortable with self-indulgent behaviors. Yet, we wonder why we’re not happy. We wonder what we’re missing. We wonder why we feel like life is closing in on us.

Through reading a special book (Ishmael by Daniel Quinn), I have learned that one of the problems with humanity is that we feel like the earth was put here for us, we assume that earth was made for man – and since we feel as though it belongs to us, we feel like we can treat it any way we wish. My only question is, why did we choose this way?

I’m afraid.

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Intro: This was originally written back in 2000 as a writing exercise. The idea is to draw a quote, any quote, and write either 400 words, or for 20 minutes.  I’m pulling this old writing exercise from my archives today in honor of the “Environmental Awareness” Fairy Oracle drawn in this morning’s Daily Dose.

“Our Only Legitimate Hope of Survival”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2000

To cherish what remains of the earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.” -Wendell Berry-

I took it as a compliment when a co-worker branded me as a “hippie-chick.” Never could I have been more flattered than when someone else called me a tree hugger.

Saving our earth is important for obvious as well as not so obvious reasons. If we destroy the ozone layer, we’ll perish. If we demolish the rain forest, we rob ourselves of life preserving essentials. you wouldn’t set your house on fire, would you? We shouldn’t rip apart our environment, either.

Aside from the protective barriers and nutritional growths of the earth, there is a silent, unseen energy that she exhales. People of every religious venue have sought from nature a spiritual experience. When we leave the pressures and familiarities of our daily routines and find time for nature, we emerge from the experience feeling energized, revitalized, clarified. We emerge from nature feeling whole, confident, connected, determined and ready to face new challenges.

We are inspired by landscapes, sunsets, ocean waves, mountain peaks, vivid jungles, steep cliffs, serene forests, spring gardens, rushing waterfalls, chattering animals, twinkling stars and weather phenomena – and yet, despite our fascination with her many faces and functions, we disrespect and destroy her daily, polluting her waters and air.

We feed from the earth, drinking her juices and enjoying the flavors of her fruits – and yet, we starve her of the attention, respect and gratitude that she deserves.

She shields us with her protective wings, keeping us out of the chaotic realm, lacking oxygen and gravity, called space – yet, we disintegrate that barrier with our chemical creations and arrogant, spoiled needs.

It would be such a blessing if our society could remember the earth. It would be a salvation if they could respect and protect her.

If we destroy the earth, we destroy ourselves. The dinosaurs didn’t have a choice in their extinction. We do.

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Intro: This was originally written in 2001 for RITRO.com, a volunteer Web community based on Real Insight Through Raw Opinion. I’m pulling it from my archives today in honor of the “Environmental Awareness” Fairy Oracle I drew this morning in today’s Daily Dose.

“Environmental Health: Our Ozone”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2001

In a daydream, I picture myself laying on my back in a green meadow, gazing off into the infinite blue that stretches across the sky. Looking at little white puffs floating by, I imagine all those things imaginable when looking at the clouds. I look beyond the clouds thinking about flight, freedom, fresh air. Beyond that, I think about the heavens – the stars, the gravity-absent blackness that surrounds us far past where our sun shines. I think about the protective barrier around our planet, the delicate balance of the ecosystem. Fearful, I think about the destruction being done to that protective barrier. Uncertain, I question the severity of the claims of a hole in the ozone layer, wondering what the effects of such a hole might be. I reflect on my own behaviors to see if I’m contributing to the damage.

According to an article called Under The Ozone Shield, found at Ozone and UV Radiation Research, “Ozone is a molecule in the Earth’s atmosphere. As much as 90 % of ozone lies at heights of 10-50 km above the Earth’s surface. An ozone molecule consists of three oxygen atoms. Despite the fact that ozone forms only a small fraction of all the constituents of the atmosphere, it is still an important factor for the continuity of life on planet Earth.”

By visiting Beyond Discovery and viewing the article called, All About Ozone, one can read, “Ozone is a relatively simple molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms bound together. Yet it has dramatically different effects depending upon its location. Near Earth’s surface, where ozone comes into direct contact with life forms, it primarily displays a destructive side. Because it reacts strongly with other molecules, large concentrations of ozone near the ground prove toxic to living things. At higher altitudes, where 90 percent of our planet’s ozone resides, it does a remarkable job of absorbing ultraviolet radiation. In the absence of this gaseous shield in the stratosphere, the harmful radiation has a perfect portal through which to strike Earth.”

Without the protection of our ozone layer, 95-99% of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation would strike the earth. This biologically disturbing, high-energy radiation is said to cause skin cancer, impairment of the eyes, damage to the immune system, and upset the fragile balance of an entire ecosystem.

Researchers now know that chlorine creates the hole in the ozone layer by destroying ozone molecules. The source of the chlorine: human made chemicals called chloroflurocarbons (CFC’s) that have been used in spray cans, foam packaging and refrigeration materials.

Refrigeration materials are partially responsible for global warming? Figure that out!

According to this Ozone Index at Environmental Database for use in Schools, “chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were invented in the 1920s. They are a compound of carbon containing chlorine and fluorine. CFCs are man made chemicals, so we call them synthetic chemicals. Since their introduction CFCs have been used as refrigerants in refrigerators and air conditioning units, propellants in aerosol cans, foaming agents in the production of packaging, cleaners used in the electronics industry, and fire extinguisher chemicals.

CFCs are well suited to all these applications as they are non-flammable, non-toxic, have high chemical stability and the chemicals properties are well suited to the applications given above. CFCs are also relatively cheap chemicals compared to some alternatives which is always a good reason why a particular chemical is popular in industry.”

Developed during a search for a new, nontoxic substance that could serve as a refrigerant, these substances or chemicals all fit the bill. However, CFC’s are carried by wind currents 10-30 miles up to the stratospheric ozone layer. Ultraviolet rays then break down the CFC’s, releasing the chlorine atoms to dissolve the ozone, remaining active for more than a hundred years.

In September 1987, 24 nations, including Canada, pledged to reduce the use of CFCs by 50 percent by 1999, and to freeze the use of halons by 1992 at their 1986 levels. This agreement, the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, was the first of its kind and set a global precedent. Since then, the Montreal Protocol has been ratified by over 70 countries. The Protocol now calls for the total elimination of ODCs by the year 2005, according to an article titled, It’s Your Health.

Knowing that changes are being made on the large scale, we still need to ask ourselves what we as individuals can do to make a difference. Without the ozone layer, we will not survive. Each of us must do our part to preserve the planet we inhabit. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides useful tips on what you can do to make a difference in the struggle to save the ozone layer.

Fact: If all ozone-depleting chemicals were eliminated, the ozone layer would, in time, heal itself.

In a daydream, I picture myself laying on my back in a green meadow, gazing off into the infinite blue that stretches across the sky. Fearful, I think about the destruction being done to that protective barrier. I begin to reflect on my own behaviors to see if I’m contributing to the damage.

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Intro: This was originally written back in 2001 for RITRO.com, a volunteer Web community based on Real Insight Through Raw Opinion. I’m re-posting it here today in honor of the “Environmental Awareness” Fairy Oracle I drew this morning.

“Environmental Health: A Look at the Rain Forest”
Written by:
Wendi Friend
2001

One who experiences the diversity and indescribable beauty of the rain forest may be impressed with its plant and animal variety on a strictly visual and audio basis, but the rain forests are essential to human life, providing medicines, foods and climate control.

Rain forests have provided enormous contributions to human well being through food, climate control and drugs obtained from, or based on, plants from the rain forest; including Rosy Periwinkle, a plant used to battle Hodgkin’s disease and child leukemia. It is estimated that the Indians in Amazonia used no less than 1600 pharmaceutical plant extracts. Amazingly, it is probable that there are at least 10,000 plant species worldwide that have not yet been identified. In addition, as food crops, we only use 7,000 of about 75,000 known edible plants.

Unfortunately, for all the beauty, life, life-saving foods and medicines the rain forest has provided humanity, our way of saying thank you has left much to be desired. While some may chop down the forest for purposes of logging; some clearing it for agricultural purposes and indigenous peoples who cultivate the land through lack of choice, humanity is setting itself up for certain disaster.

Each year, up to 54,000 square miles of rain forest are destroyed and 500,000 trees are cut down every hour. Due to the removal of trees, we lose 20,000 to 100,000 species per year and may lose 20% of all species on the planet within the next 30 years.

The immediate causes of deforestation are logging, shifted cultivators (indigenous peoples forced from their natural homelands into the rain forest, of which they have no knowledge, understanding or appreciation), cash crops & cattle ranching, firewood, large dams, mining & industry, colonization schemes and tourism.

Underlying causes of deforestation are development & over consuption: The basis cause colonialism, exploitation by industrialized countries, the debt burden and the role of poverty and over population.

As a result, tropical rain forests are reduced to less than 6% of the world’s surface. Before we destroy that as well, let us remember that the 6% of rain forest left contains no less than one half of all the world’s species of plants; one of which is currently being researched as a potential cure for AIDS.

While the rates of destruction are overwhelming, there is something you can do to help. The Tropical Rain Forest Coalition has provided the following list of things you can do to help save the rain forests, therefore saving ourselves:

1. Write, email or call your representatives in government.
2. Make changes toward a less environmentally harmful lifestyle.
3. Support human rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.
4. Do not buy products that cause destruction of the rain forests.
5. Donate to organizations that save rain forest acreage.
6. Learn more about the rain forests.
7. Spread the word to others on the importance of rain forests.
8. Help out or form a local club or social group that supports rain forest preservation.
9. Sponsor a school study program educating about the rain forests.
10. Learn more about The Rain Forest Coalition’s “save an acre” program.

Deforestation threatens to change climates and accelerate global warming. Deforestation eliminates food and medical possibilities, creates soil erosion, floods and destroys the life of plants and animals. To learn more about the rain forest and what you can do to help save them, visit the Tropical Rainforest Coalition or the Rainforest Information Center.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
March 2005

Women in history have made a powerful difference world wide –through their political movements, charitable causes, and inherent talents and traits for caring for others in need. Women have served society in countless ways – and in many ways, created history in the process. But women need not be historic heroines in order to have made a difference in the shaping of our world. In fact, many of the phenomenal energies contributing to the shaping of society as a whole will forever be nameless. There are endless numbers of women who offered words of support, encouragement, and strength to others – others who may have, in some way, played a “larger” role in history. Women have birthed world leaders, raised humanitarians, and mothered philosophers, scientists, and doctors.

As a woman, I’m honored and grateful for the rights established for me by my ancestors, but I’m not such a liberationist that I feel a need to compete with men. In fact, I don’t want to prove my equality to men. I appreciate the differences between masculine and feminine, and the ways in which they work together. I’m grateful for freedoms existing now that were causes to die for in times past, but not so removed from my femininity that I can’t appreciate a gentleman opening a door for a lady.

We’ve come a long way in history – and a lot of that is wonderful! But for all the changes and “equality” we’ve established, I still concern myself sometimes over whether or not equality has come at the cost of sensual femininity. Women have become too strong to cry, too cold to care, too aggressive to nurture, and too capable to accept help – even when it’s needed. We’ve gone from the repressed conditions of ankle-length dresses and no skin, to belly tops and mini skirts. We’ve gone from bold and determined to stubborn and brittle. Nonetheless, I’m still proud to be a woman and I’m still grateful for the roles of women in history.

I’m still not sure why we haven’t seen a woman president. I’m aware of the continuing struggles for women in the work place regarding equal rights and pay. I know there are still chauvinists out there who feel a woman’s place is to be at home taking care of the household duties – and this is what brings me to my next and final point.

Women – women of today – you, right there – we ARE women in history. Harriet Tubman, Abigail Adams, Dorthea Dix, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller – they’ve done their parts!! They got us from the past to present, paving the way through blood, sweat, and tears for a better world for the women of today. Now, it is up to US, the women of today, to continue the cause for our daughters of tomorrow. It’s up to us to continue making notable history in regard to women.

Which of us will tomorrow’s daughters remember in history, and for what shall we be remembered?

 

Note: Read the poem that was written following the writing of this piece.  The poem is entitled, “To the Women of History

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August 2005

She was lying, I knew it. Jealousy was her motive, I figured – but nonetheless, I didn’t consider her at all to be telling the truth. Maybe she just wanted her youth back and chose to live vicariously through me. Then again, maybe it wasn’t jealousy at all. Control is an equally considered suspect. She may have felt like she didn’t have any control over anything else in her life, so she had to show dominance with me. She wasn’t an expert on anything in my book. After all, what did she know about fashion? Her clothes were out of style; her hair was not flattering in cut or color, and she didn’t seem to know anything about the world in which I lived – so why should she have assumed she knew what was best for me? Besides, I’d already learned she wasn’t exactly “obedient” in her youth either. You can imagine my shock, then, when I realized fifteen years later that she wasn’t just “right”; she knew from experience and was trying to save me from reliving her mistakes and feeling her pains. What do you mean my mother was right?

My mom isn’t the only one who shares advice or warnings. All moms of all ages, grandmothers and aunts included – have that instinctive need to dish out advice – and we all know that when we’re fifteen, we feel immortal, invincible, and smarter than everyone else on the planet. How in the world did our parents, or the rest of society for that matter, ever survive before us? I don’t know about you, but when I was fifteen, I was telling my mom how to do her hair, how to wear her make-up, and as if she were only four, I’d try to pick her clothes out for her if ever I was to be seen anywhere with her. I even tried telling her how to drive. Obviously, she couldn’t know what she was talking about when giving advice to me! So, I basically ignored her, thinking her a fool.

Grandma was more of the physical warning system, always preaching to my siblings and me about watching what we eat, brushing our teeth, pushing back the cuticles on our fingernails, washing our faces with Noxzema, not popping our knuckles, and standing up straight so we don’t have future back problems and grow up to be hunch-backs. Mom, on the other hand, was warning us of more of the emotional and spiritual upheavals and pitfalls. When I’d pop off at her in my arrogant juvenile way, she’d not get really angry, but more spiteful and say, “You just wait. Things will look a lot different when you’re thirty and have kids of your own.” In fact, she kept a magnet on our fridge that read, “Avenge yourself, live long enough to be a burden to your children.” When I’d do things really hurtful to her or say things to her that were mean, she was hurt, of course, but she knew in her heart that I was just being a rebellious teen, and looked at me in such a way that said, “You just wait ‘til your kid does something like that to you.” You know what I thought to myself in reply? I bet you do. Try this on for size, “My kids will never talk to me or treat me that way because I will be a much better mother and my children will love and respect me and be my best friends!”

Sound familiar?

Just when I thought I had life all figured out and was on top of the world, everything came crashing down because I realized that every thing my mother, grandmother, and aunts tried to warn me about was coming true! The wall paper of my reality began peeling away in front of my very eyes. My own teen-aged son (at age fifteen, to be ironically exact) also found that the only way to find his independence was through less than kind separation. I started having flashbacks of all the mean things I ever said and did, and found myself wanting to call my mother and apologize. She was right; it did hurt and I do understand now that I have my own kids – whom, by the way, try to tell me how to dress, how to wear my hair, and how to drive. To make matters worse, fifteen-fillings and six crowns later, I realized Grandma may have been onto something when she said all that sugar and soda would be bad for my teeth. They were also right about the whole world changing when I was thirty. Suddenly, the candy bar and soda I had for lunch started hanging around on my backside and the size four jeans began cutting off my circulation. Crows feet found their ways to my eyes, just to the sides of the bags that had formed. My kids began speaking in a language I no longer understood, saying things like “tight”.

I remember the first time I heard that expression. My kids and I had gone shoe shopping; each of the three of them needed a new pair. The boys, being older, were instructed to find their size and try on a pair they liked. Meanwhile, I was looking for something that would fit my much younger daughter. My middle son came to me with a happy face. He’d found what he liked and it fit him. Then the eldest child returns with a pair and says, “Mom… I like these; they’re so tight!” Who could blame me, then, when I replied, “Then try on a bigger pair.” Not only was I out of style and out of the communication loop, but I could no longer identify (or enjoy) the most popular tunes on the radio. To top it all off, I seemed to forget how to program a VCR, remote control for the television, or my new computer. That’s right; I had to ask my kids for help! How did I ever survive before they were born?

They say all women turn into their mothers. You’ll never know how valiantly I resisted and rejected that concept. Maybe all other women turned into their mother, but not me. But, alas, time tells all tales and I realized that they were right. I had become my mother, and it seemed to have happened while my head was turned the other way. Now that I have three children of my own and am “thirty-something”, I’ve lived through some of the experiences and hardships that shaped my mother, experiences that did give her wisdom and make her an expert with my best wishes in mind, I realize how naïve and difficult I was. I think I’ll continue apologizing for many years to come.

Evolving and becoming one of the grown ups has changed many of my perspectives. Knowing what my mother went through with me and with life’s general challenges, I’ve learned to forgive many of the grudges I’d held with me, not realizing it was time to let go of the past, forgive mistakes, and not be so critical of a judge about what kind of a mother I thought she had been. As it turns out, she’s the best mother I could have hoped for – and I’m proud to have carried some of her traits, and then pass them on to my own daughter.

My kids may think I’m an alien who doesn’t understand much, but just wait. They’ll be thirty… some day. Then, they’ll be the ones asking, “What do you mean my mother was right?”

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
2004

Who hasn’t experienced the stereotypical parent freaking out over their child’s choice in music? “Turn that crap down!” They yell from the other room, knowing that their own words will have no impact or influence over the head-boppin’, mind-bending musical frenzy taking place in their child’s room.

Elvis Presley, with his perfected pretty boy look, prolific outpouring of soothing rhythm, and invigorating pelvic thrusts, outraged American parents who felt threatened by his sex appeal. Music broke through the four-square thinking held captive through the 1950’s. Sure, there had been occasional “antichrists” in music who were either dealt with, kept quiet, or swept under the rug by the powers that be. But the sugar sweet, love-me-true songs of yester-year took a sharp turn into evolution, giving way to such things as mini-skirts, go-go boots, and unabashed raw freedom like that later exposed at Woodstock.

Music in America was changing. My question is, did it change with the mindset of the people, or did the people change with the mindset of the music? Rather than being played to inspire foot tappin’, finger snappin’, and the occasional epiphany, music is now a fine tool, honed and sharpened with vengeance, violence, and drugs. But above all, music was and still is being charged with growing sex appeal.

Sex appeal has always been a part of music, this cannot be denied. The way the notes float on air and tickle the senses has a way of not only soothing, but seducing the human Spirit. We are not privy to music as an advanced form of humans; music has been working its magic since the days of Ancient Egypt and beyond. Music has, for as long as human consciousness can remember, been used to enhance sex, like a good cognac. Oysters and an acoustic guitar, a glass of wine with a piano solo, starlight with a little saxophone — these all set a certain mood, a romantic aura. But where music was once the shadow supporting the mood, we are now faced with music that is so influential that it has become the mold. We have become the shadow of the music.

The first case I can truly remember in my own right is when Ozzy Osbourne was accused of causing young fans to commit suicide. Play the record backwards, he’s saying “shoot the gun, shoot the gun.”

That’s what I heard the newscasters report as I channel surfed, hoping with all my heart to find some Scooby Doo or Flinstones to change the subject. I was a kid then — an intelligent one, too, I fancied myself. Only old, closed-minded people would actually think that a stupid song could make someone kill themselves. If some kid took his own life, his troubles went far beyond a bad choice in music! Stop blaming the music, that’s what I thought. But now, I sit here and question whether or not I’ve become one of those old, closed-minded people because I am opposed to today’s music and its influences.

In my day, Cyndi Lauper was a big topic of conversation with her song Be Bop, from her album of the same title. Who remembers this one:

“She bop–he bop–a–we bop. I bop–you bop–a–they bop. Be bop–be bop–a–lu–she bop”?

Be Bop had a great beat, was fun to dance to, easy to sing – it was young, hot and fresh! But it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realized good ole’ Cyndi was singing about masturbation. Still, her message was subtle, so much so that the generation currently indulging in her style didn’t even know what they were “bopping” to!

George Michael blew all of our minds when he just came outright, laid it on the table with his lyrics to I Want Your Sex from his Faith album:

“It’s natural. It’s chemical (let’s do it). It’s logical. Habitual (can we do it?). It’s sensual. But most of all….. Sex is something that we should do. Sex is something for me and you. Sex is natural – sex is good. Not everybody does it. But everybody should. Sex is natural – sex is fun. Sex is best when it’s….one on one.”

Even this was not an indication of exactly where music and mindset were heading.

My awareness of music while growing up was never too keen. I had a few favorite songs and was aware, for the most part, of the top forty, but my musical education didn’t start until my children began to engulf themselves in today’s greatest hits. I always thought having children while I was young would keep me closely tied to them in experience. I’d still be “cool” and into the same things they are, though at a slightly elevated capacity. But when I started paying attention to the lyrics as well as the beats, and taking in the way young girls express themselves through halter tops, low cut hip-huggers and a saunter instead of a walk. I began to see a connection. These kids are, this music IS sex appeal! A new song hits the airwaves, the kids pick up the lyrics, then suddenly those lyrics become a part of every day chatter. That artist’s style becomes the way the children dress and carry themselves. The mindset of the music is adapted into the mindset of the young ones. Music shapes them, whereas in my day, we shaped music.

But enough about my day. What’s being listened to today? What are the influences being absorbed by the minds of our children? Such influences may include but are not limited to: Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Mystikal, and Outkast.

Sex appeal has become such a dominant part of musical culture that one is forced to wonder, is music changing to suit the needs of an evolving people, or are people changing to the ever influential realm of music?

Eminem is well known with most young people. Much of his controversial lifestyle has been widely publicized, especially his having been banned from MTV. His style of music is such that one WANTS to move their body to the beat, nevermind what he’s saying! But, wait… what is he saying? What is his message? He sums up my point nicely (and I use the term loosely) in his song, Sing for the Moment from the CD 8 Mile, in which he says,

“Entertainment is changin’, intertwinin’ with gangstas, in the land of the killers, a sinner’s mind is a sanctum/ unholy, only have one homie, only this gun, lonely cuz don’t anyone know me/Yet everybody just feels like they can relate, I guess words are a mothafucka they can be great/ or they can degrate, or even worse they can teach hate/It’s like these kids hang on every single statement we make, like they worship us/plus all the stores ship us platinum, now how the fuck did this metamorphosis happen?/”

Busta Rhymes is another favorite among today’s youth. You know, that Just Make it Clap funky Reggae beat from the 2002 album, It Ain’t Safe No More? What is the message of Busta Rhymes? Move past the rhythm and listen closely.

“Hey! Hey! Ain’t no fakin the fluid. Water drippin off asses of women that’s shakin it to it while I’m takin you through it, no mistakin my crew is Flipmode, Baby!!! Got you actin all stupid, now I’m back in the cupid, just to tell you the truth is them niggas that be havin you blacken and ready to lose it, pushin lambos and harley rockin Roberto Cavalli (huh!). Now I got a new hobby, diamonds and tattoos and bodies. Watch me crash through the party, go ‘head and spaz girl. Tattoo in the name of my click across y’ ass girl. We ’bout to blast girl, from here to Albuquerque, like jamaican niggas rockin big chains in socker jerseys. Take you on hotter journeys, the way we put it down. And be hittin be havin you shittin more than a box of hershes. We come to control it. We come to command it. And just for the record, we always come to set a new standard. Act like you know.”

My eleven-year-old son printed out these lyrics at my request when I asked him to show me his favorite songs that he knows the words to. I’ve heard him singing this all the time (although he obviously omitted certain parts!). I love the beat of the song and always turned up the volume — but I never knew what the song was actually saying! The way many songs are put together today, consisting of words that aren’t actually words and spit out at high speeds from multiple voices, the songs are virtually understandable! But the beats are cool, and that’s the catch.

Who is Mystikal?

“Go tell the DJ to put my shit on. I’m keepin you neggas and bitches in jump from the minute I get on. Takin they shirt off, showin they tattoos, screamin and hollerin and all. Got the gift to come up with it, put it together, deliver it, make them feel it, bitch I been on! Sharp! Like you pulled me out of the pencil sharpener. Bad! Like that student in the principal’s office. Put rappers in coffins, they dive like dophins. I’m the damndest lyrical marvel you come across often. So watch yourself! Or fuck around and get beside yourself, I know! Go ahead though… bounce them titties, shake that ass, drop that pussy, but stay in line hoe. Fuck a cain’t, cuz you can can. Cocked up, head down, pussy poppin on a handstand. Leave that pussy smokin. If you gon’ do somethin then bed over and bust that pussy open.”

That’s just verse one of Danger from his Let’s Get Ready album.

Granted, most songs with such vulgarities are “bleeped” when played on the radio. Furthermore, the majority of material with such content now come with warning labels. What’s the warning label for? Parents aren’t buying these albums, kids are! I can also tell you that my kids had no problem walking into a music store and purchasing whatever music they wanted — cut or uncut — without my being there. In fact, I’ve never heard of anyone being carded for music, either. So who are those warning labels for? Besides, who needs a music store or an identification card when anyone can download music or get burned copies from friends?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that the only problem lies in hard-core rap lyrics. Every genre of music presents a handful of artists who not only push the boundaries, but erase the boundaries all together. There’s something for everybody, and the scary part of it is, artists and record producers are well aware of the power and influence they have over youth. Bottom line, though, is bottom dollar — and we all know that sex sells.

I never wanted to become the kind of parent who tells my children not to listen to certain music. I’m not about censorship. I’m not saying don’t make or sell the music. As a young girl, I never understood how freaked out the adults would get over our tunes. But it seems to me that music has changed since the time I was a young girl, and its influence over the behaviors and thought patterns of our children has increased.

Once upon a time, music was molded to the tastes and pleasures of the people. But that was a time long, long ago. In today’s world, we have become the shadow of the music.

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Written by:
Wendi Friend
2005
*NOTE: Contains Profanities*

Waves had no mercy as they tossed the drenched soul to and fro, dunking him in his own madness. Refusing to drown, the sailor fought for air, prayed for hope, and gripped firmly to every moment. While fighting to keep life, he also managed to find time to analyze and criticize every aspect of life – from the flavor of the morning coffee to the bastard at the electric company who didn’t know how to do his fucking job. Still the sailor struggled to find the light of day from beneath the ocean’s wrath. Though he chastised the Gods and challenged the Goddesses, though he found happiness in nothing, though he sought to self-destruct at any given moment while on dry ground, he fought like the dickens to save his own hide with the waves beating the crap out of him, cursing out the universe all the while. Go figure. And yet, there’s an ere about him that makes you want to reach right into the water, scoop him up into your arms, wrap him tightly in a warm blanket, and serve him warm vegetable soup while he tells you wicked tails of his adventures at sea. You’re full of questions you hope he’ll answer while he lights the pipe you’re sure he has hiding somewhere on his person, remarkably dry and ready for smoking.

You have to admire his strength, really. Think about it, the entire ocean is trying to take him down and he will just not keep his head below water! He’s like Popeye or something with amazing strength, although nicotine and caffeine do hardly a can of spinach make. Nonetheless, he’s got reserves of strength somewhere because he just keeps popping his head above water long enough to take a big gulp of air, and then down he goes again, using all the strength in his arms, legs, lungs, heart, and soul to stay close enough for, “… just… one… more… breath.” He didn’t even waste any energy by screaming out for help, just silently prayed to who knows what (‘cause he was cursing everything else in the universe out), and struggled to survive.

You wonder how he got in the water in the first place. If he’s such a great sailor and he’s so unbelievably strong, then how in nature’s womb did he fall out of a damned boat? Speaking of boats, where’s the boat he fell out of? Was he pushed off by pirates who sailed away with his treasures? Did a raging storm come crashing down and rip his boat to shreds, leaving nothing but toothpicks? What’s his story?

Well, you never do get time enough to ask the lad his lot in life because lucky for him God heard his prayers and sent along a little wooden raft with pigmies on board. They didn’t speak English and had on barely any clothes, but no matter, it was salvation! Blessed be the sailor whose connection with Deity was such that prayers were directly answered and a raft was sent to save his sorry complaining ass from drowning. Good thing the gods have a sense of humor – and because they do, they sent pigmies in loin cloths on a ratty ass raft. Nonetheless, they came for him and he was saved.

The sailor, dripping wet and shivering to the bone, hoisted himself upon the raft, gasping for breath before glancing up at his rescuers. Once he’d caught his breath, he shifted his position to sit upright, wrinkling his nose in distaste at the condition of what he considered a mere floatation device crafted from poor workmanship. That’s when he noticed the big, dark-skinned, hairy toes on the feet next to him. Naked toes, followed by thin, bony, unclothed legs, and… Oh, for heaven’s sakes! Loincloths! The sailor shook his head, making somewhat of a “tsk tsk” sound of contempt. One pigmy offers the sailor a fresh fish for food, but the fish is whole, barely dead, and a might small compared to the likes of what the sailor used to catch. Disinterested, the sailor waves away the fish, turning his head in disapproval. With that, he found himself back in the water.

Merciless waves crashed down upon the old sailor once again, submerging him in darkness, tossing him about like an old rag doll. Still, between gasps for air, he found time to criticize the pigmy race and what he considered to be their pathetic lifestyle of floating around on makeshift rafts in nothing but loincloths while gnawing on raw fish. The thought of it disgusted the old man. Nonetheless, he managed to holler out once or twice, if not out loud then in prayer, for help to come and rescue him from his own misery. Miraculously, a helicopter happened to fly over the man, flying low and offering a rope. The old sailor swam away from the rope, terrified of heights and refusing to take hold. The helicopter hovered for some time trying to aid the old sailor who was fighting for his life, but the old sailor, victim of his own fear of heights, would not cooperate and waved the rope away, so the helicopter had no choice but to go on its way, leaving the sailor behind in the raging waters.

As one might imagine, the sailor soon drowned. While his body drifted away to become one with the ocean, his spirit entered through the great gates, following the white light, to meet with the All that Is. When in front of his God, the sailor, who never thought to kneel, bow, or start with something simple like, “Hi”, immediately lashed out at God for allowing him to die, “I don’t know why I thought you’d come to my rescue; you left your own son to die…” but then cuts himself short in mid sentence and changes the direction of conversation all together.

“You know, this isn’t at all what I thought heaven would look like. What have you got the thermostat set on? It’s really chilly up here. I was expecting diamonds, gold, and pearls; this place looks more like a Hollywood mansion badly decorated by some gay t.v. personality. – pastels, really?”

And with that, the old sailor found himself cast from Heaven, headed for a warmer climate with more fiery décor.

What kind of character would it take to get himself kicked out of hell? How could you grate on the nerves of Satan so bad that even he can’t stand to be in the same room with you? Tell him old fishing stories, laced with arrogance and ignorance, for the rest of eternity. Boast about how you’re the God of the seas, and the God of the seas ye shall be. So the sailor was cast out of hell, and back into the waters in which he’d already drowned. This is where his soul remains today… eternally drowning in his own misery because nothing on Earth, in Heaven, or in Hell could meet his expectations – and his character was toxic to everything.

When sailing on the ocean of emotion, riding the waves of experience and passion, keep an ear out… you just may hear the moans, cries, and complaints of the lost sailor.

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Written in 2001

 

“The magick moving through art is the ability to visualize without seeing, listen without hearing, speak without talking, and feel without touching.” ~Wendi Friend~

I over-slept today. I awoke frantic and frazzled due to bad dreams and thick stress. My eldest child, Atlas, was already gone off to school. The younger two decided that I should be left to sleep, so they played quietly together in the loft after having gotten dressed and made their beds. I awoke feeling the need to crawl inside myself; but in a healthy way. I felt like my heart was trying to tell me something. I wanted to sit still and listen. I wanted to silently remember my dreams and explore my thoughts.

Brewing my first pot of coffee for the day, I wrote down that I was hungry for creativity. Creativity, for me, is medicine – whether I’m creating with words on paper, crafting with supplies, or playing with notes of a new song. When my hands are busy, anticipation and expectation preoccupied with art, I can hear myself better. I can see the journey ahead a little more clearly. I can breathe a little more deeply. I was ready to heal. I was hungry for creativity.

Unfortunately, growth was not the only thing I was feeling this morning. The sign on my heart must have been flashing, “No Vacancy,” because all the space within it was consumed with a mixture of hope, need, want, and guilt. I know why I’m in this position. I know that stress backed me into a corner. I know that responsibility challenged time to a race and won. I found myself staying up late nights, waking early in the morning, and skipping meals in between because I couldn’t find the time to do all that needed done in the accomplishing of my goals. I felt guilty because the kids wanted to spend time with me. But, then, so did I.

That’s when I remembered this quote and wrote it down on paper again at that moment: The magick moving through art is the ability to visualize without seeing, listen without hearing, speak without talking and feel without touching. I wrote it down the first time in a journal/coloring book I’d received as a gift. I used a pink gel pen, then – and must have re-read the statement a hundred times while my left hand colored the picture to the left.

As I re-wrote the phrase this morning, seven year old Stinkerbelle knocked on my door, wanting to know if she and Rhythm could go play outside. Turning in my office chair, I smiled, saying, “Ya know what? No. Why don’t you go get your brother and the two of you can hang out in here with me for a while.” Stinkerbelle was thrilled to no end, as was her brother. I had no idea that hanging out in my office would be such a treat for them. When they were both in here, I explained that I’d like them to do something creative with this part of the morning, then they could go outside and play. Stinkerbelle immediately wanted to put to use the weaving project she got for her birthday. Rhythm had been wanting to play with my magnetic poetry book. He watched me do an exercise the other day, thought it was neat, and had been wanting to try one of his own. He picked out five words from my bag of magnetic poetry pieces while Stinkerbelle began stretching little loops of elastic to hook and weave on the plastic base. While the two of them nestled into their creative acts, I nestled into mine.

While Rhythm wrote his own thoughts of the day and Stinkerbelle wove a pot holder, I allowed the pen to move across paper with my own round of magnetic poetry. I withdrew five words from the plastic bag and wrote them down:

1. wind 2.away 3.sister 4.summer 5. morning

`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~`~

Morning flew quickly by today.
Summer heat taunts, though it’s only spring.
Winter has finally melted away,
making room for the great sun king.

Dreaming of a garden of flowers
I seek nature’s comforting glow.
Sister wind has exhausted her powers
when March currents did forcefully flow.

As I stand in these seasons changing,
I am one with light and sound.
My mind does it’s mystic rearranging
while my feet connect to the ground.

So I thank the entity Mother Earth
for destruction, obstacles and strife…
for death only makes room for birth
and a new opportunity for life.

Winds blow away negativity
cold freezes ugly thoughts
heat melts snow, warming creativity
and I find what I have sought….

my own inner garden of peace.

While we were working, I noticed how tranquil we all were. Rhythm and Stinkerbelle both worked with pleasant grins stretched across their faces, and I realized I was doing the same. We were able to be together, and yet apart, all at the same time. We were all doing the same thing, but differently. We were all being creative and exploring ourselves. This satisfied all of our needs. Their wanting to be with me didn’t mean that I couldn’t still do what I needed to do. I learned that they just like to be in my presence and sharing in my love of art.

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