Cochise, Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Cochise

This is going to sound crazy but I absolutely love Cochise on Falling Skies. Yeah, it’s the family dynamic and the struggle to survive the extinction of the human race that makes Falling Skies so awesome, but I have to mention what a fantastic addition the Volm, specifically Cochise is to the cast. The Volm enhance the members of the resistance and provide a great foil for the Espheni and skitters. Not all alien life forms are out to eradicate humanity. It’s refreshing in a grungy way that Star Trek was not. (Still the greatest franchise to ever grace television. Don’t want to seem blasphemous.)

Ah, Cochise… I find him adorable. It’s not like he gives off the warm-fuzzies. He’s not pretty with his green reptilian skin, big buggy eyes and a tiny skull-like hole for a nose, but there’s just something about him that sticks. He intrigues me. Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of him at his essence. He’s a tall, upright turtle that could quite frankly perform with the best of them in a Shakespearean production of Henry the V. (Cochise in the park – “alas poor Yorick…” I giggle as I digress.)

Anyway, I’ve significantly analyzed my leanings toward him. The writer in me and this ongoing study of character and my tendency toward specific types. Tall, honorable, self-sacrificing heroes are my kryptonite. My findings: It’s in the way Cochise carries himself with stoic grace. His patience and deep respect for the human condition. The timbre of his deep voice and aristocratic cadence of his speech. His personality shines in his golden eyes and the tilt of his head when he’s curious. His kindness and self-deprecating manner when he’s vexed with a problem. All of that put together make him attractive. Endearing. A gentleman warrior. And make me wish that more humans could behave with such impeccable manners and compassion. Maybe he’s a throwback to a more genial time. 

Nevertheless, he makes me keep watching amidst this crazy Season 4 rehash of Nazi-brainwashing and the Chosen One Human-Espheni hybrid whose appearance is a direct rip off of the Mother of Dragons. Please, there can be only one of her. 

I know the story is about the Masons and their quest to save Earth, but it’s punctuated and enhanced with this amazing character in Cochise. I can only hope to see more of him next season.

More Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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I couldn’t do a Marvel Character Wound analysis of Guardians of the Galaxy and not go back and take a look at the fabulous festering wounds of The Avengers. Every single one of them is such wounded, anguished soul. I’ve seen some incredible, deep analysis of this movie so I won’t go into how all of this relates to the epic plot set forth by the ever-amazing Joss Whedon, but I do want to stay with the theme of character’s wounds. Those deep character sores are what give this movie its emotional layers and the meat that drives the plot forward. They are integral to each other. Without these wounds, the Avengers would be just another “blow ‘em up, big 3D-CGI-IMAX so loud and annoying you want to shoot yourself” fest like Transformers. Forgive me if you’re a fan. I never really saw the fascination.

So let’s us look:

Black Widow:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: she’s actively working as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and believes in the job, but returns to home base because of loyalty to Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (She’s used to the job as a spy, follows the mission and her orders, it’s all she’s ever known.) But, she owes Clint a debt––he saved her life after he was sent to assassinate her. “You lie and kill in the service of liars and killers, and you pretend to have your own code to make up for what you are and what they make you do.”
  • Wound: She’s a spy and a killer which she refers to as having “red in her ledger” which we can assume means blood on her as ala Lady Macbeth “out damn spot”. This killer however is afraid of the Hulk because he can’t be mind controlled, her specialty. She holds no power over him.
  • Skills: she’s a manipulator, uses her “pretend” vulnerability and weakness to trick men. In this way, she’s a reflection of Loki’s tricks, and manipulation.
  • Overcoming the wound: she listens to Clint, once she’s knocked some sense back into him and gets back on her horse for the greater purpose. She knows that working with these guys is for the greater good and will automatically help her redeem all that “red”. She is the one to push the mind control stick into the portal device which reflects back to she use mind control to overcome the bad thing.

Hawkeye:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he was taken as a puppet for the bad guy who used his skills to hurt people. We don’t get much more than that until he’s reunited with Black Widow. He calls her by her nick name which automatically links her to him in a more personal manner than she has with the rest and solidifies their bond.
  • Wound: he felt violated because Loki was in his head and he hurt people against his will. I assume in the next one we’ll get more of a look into who he really is. During this one, he’s little more than a sniper in a perch and a motivation for Romanov.
  • Skills: strategy, eye for detail, logistics, extremely talented sharp shooter. Quick and efficient
  • Overcoming the wound: he is now working with his partner, getting over the mind control and redeeming himself by saving people

Dr. Banner/Hulk:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s manipulated by Natasha to believe that he’s been asked because he’s the most preeminent expert on gamma radiation (He thought gamma radiation would be the key to unlocking the formula the super soldier serum that made Cap, but ultimately turned him into the Hulk.) His cynicism make him believe that S.H.I.E.L.D. is hiding stuff because why wouldn’t they bring in Tony Stark for the “clean energy” they’re working on.
  • Wound: He’s afraid to be the hulk because he causes damage and hurts people without meaning to. He doesn’t like this this is his own causing. He feels exposed like a “raw nerve”.
  • Skills: science and rationality, as Dr. Banner; brute strength as hulk
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes that it doesn’t matter because he’s always angry and that constant state of anger can be controlled if he tries. He needs to help people by destroying the bad guys

 

Captain America:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s a soldier and it’s his duty. (Plus he’s got nothing better to do since he’s been frozen for the last seventy years)  A soldier is all he’s ever wanted to be. His greatest desire was to be in service his country and fight against the evil of Hitler, against oppression.
  • Wound: he feels old-fashioned. He’s a man out of time, an anachronism, upset that the world has changed so much that he doesn’t recognize humanity anymore, that there is no unity, no loyalty and we’ve become a version of the evil he once fought against. He believes that the Tesseract should have been left in the ocean because it is too dangerous.
  • Skills: super strength, extreme honor. Military skills, tactical and a great leader. The shield protects him from many assaults/weapons, used as a protection device and a tool. It’s an extension of his fighting skill and body.

 

Iron Man:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: He goes because they need his expertise and to prove he was right. He’s working on getting out of the war making business, and into the energy business, snd he’s a little upset that the Avenger Initiative was scrapped because of his personality (volatile and self-obsessed) He questions Fury’s motives and  doesn’t like that Fury doesn’t tell them everything, he keeps secrets.
  • Wound: his ego is huge and needs to be stroked. He’s more than a “billionaire, genius, philanthropist”. He is selfish and questions authority. He needs to know everything and be right. His sarcasm is his deflection.
  • Skills: strength, power, genius, fires lasers, variety of techno weapons and flying, has Jarvis as backup and navigation
  • Overcoming the wound: he gets the group to see that there is more to the picture and this causes conflict but then rallies and works with them after Phil is killed. He wants to avenge. He’s angered when he sees a bit of himself in Loki and knows exactly how it needs to be stopped. He gives the ultimate sacrifice by flying the nuke up to the portal and sending it to the Chitauri mothership. He doesn’t even get to say goodbye to the woman he loves.

 

Thor:

  • Motivation to the “Call”: he’s there to retrieve his brother. He loves his brother. Believes Loki is going after earth to get back at him (he’s right). Earth is under his protection. But Loki believes that human need to be ruled because they are chaotic and kill themselves. He wants Loki to face Asgardian justice for his crimes.
  • Wound: he wants to protect humanity, and his love, Jane Foster, on earth, but part of him believes that he’ll only bring danger to humanity. His family bickering has already caused such problems. He embarrassed by his family’s dirty laundry.
  • Skills: super strength, hammer is indestructible that only he can wield, the hammer allows him  fly and summon thunder and lightening. Its an extension of his body and fighting skill.
  • Overcoming the wound: he realizes he has to fight here on Earth in order to protect humanity. He cannot protect from afar.

 

Loki:

  • Villainous motivations: wants to rule earth, Odin (father) and Thor’s (brother) favorite people, to get back at them for his perceived slights.
  • Wound: He wants approval from his father and to hurt Thor because he’s in the shadow of his brother’s greatness. Believes he was betrayed by Odin and deserves to rule. His deal is to get the Tesseract, control the Chitaruri army to take over Earth and then give the Tesseract to Thanos. His self-importance makes him believe he is above humans. And he will manipulate and use any means to get what he wants. He needs the scientist and the Tesseract to create a stronger more stable portal to get the army to New York.
  • Skills: master of words, manipulations illusions and tricks, super strength, holds a Chitauri weapon that creates mind control over humans with the essence of the Tesseract

 

Now, the two “regular” humans play a major part, as well. While they may not have superpowers, they are pretty damn important:

 

Director Fury: he is the visionary and pragmatist. He believes in the Avengers as the answer to save Earth, but he also believes that the Tesseract is needed to give them weapons to combat much greater foes. Now that humanity knows there are aliens from other worlds (because of the appearance of Thor), and now that Loki has returned as a threat to crush humanity, it’s proven him right. He believes they are at war. “Hopelessly, hilariously outgunned, the world is filling up with people who can’t be matched”, and as Thor states: “Earth is ready for a higher form of war.”

Phil Coulson: he represents humanity, the everyman. He’s the company man that follows S.H.I.E.L.D.’s directives without question. He believes in what he does and that the world will be a better place because of the Avengers. What’s great about him is that he’s interacted with all of them in one way or another. Most predominantly, he’s friendly with Tony Stark, able to manage Romanov, and awestruck by Captain America. There’s an innocent hero worship in his regard for Steve Rodgers. His eyes light up like a child’s when he gets to finally speak with his hero, and boldly asks for Rodger’s autograph on his trading cards. It’s his death that Fury uses to unit the arguing Avengers to a higher purpose.

 

I love the depth of each of them. I’ve watched the movie over and over to study the brilliance of Joss’s writing and the nuances of the character dynamic. I cannot wait until Avengers 2 is out when we get to scratch deeper into the wounds. I can’t even predict where he’ll go, but I’m willing to bet it’s amazing.

 

 

 

Marvel’s Marvelous Character Wounds

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Them more I watch the Marvel Cinematic Universe the more I learn about writing. The characters in this massively epic franchise are so fascinating. They have such depth underneath their seemingly shiny and comic exteriors. Each one has personal demons that need to be faced. Each one of them has a “wound”. The wound is the one thing the character can’t escape from. The one thing their superpowers or abilities can’t control over overcome. The wound is a tear on their psyche. It’s what makes them human and being human means being vulnerable.

I’ve always struggled with conflict, in my personal life and in my writing. We all have a tendency to want everything to be good and happy and perfect. But unfortunately perfect people don’t exist anywhere, nor do they make for good fiction. Sure stories are about plot and what happens. But, if the characters suck, then who cares. I once turned away from a movie because I wished the tunnel collapsed on all of the people trapped in it because they were all too annoying to live. I didn’t care. It was one of those disaster movies from the 90s and I think Sylvester Stallone was in it. (Don’t get me wrong. Sly Stallone has some cool gems in his acting pocket. The Expendables movies are sheer marketing brilliance and fun. And all of those crusty old guys have wounds––even if it’s their realization that they’re too old for this shit––so it makes it even more fun to watch).

I was discussing the latest Marvel awesome fest with my crit partner Renn and she asked what I loved about it. The story (i.e. plot) is cool, as most adventures are. They go after a MacGuffin for selfish reasons, fight some guys who also want it, have a big battle and become heroes in the process. It’s not that they all of a sudden decide, “Today I care about something other than myself and I want to be a hero.” It’s because their wounds ache for them to overcome it. And that’s why they become heroes.

The cast of misfits:

Peter Quill, aka Star Lord, is the de facto leader. His mother died of cancer when he was eight and he was immediately abducted by a space ship and raised by the pirate/scavenger, Yondu, who took him. Turns out there’s a secret about Peter’s heritage that even he didn’t know. I’m sure we’ll find out what that is in the next movie. (Abandonment issues, forced to look out for himself. Deflects with sarcasm)

Rocket Raccoon, is a bounty hunter/mercenary. He’s self conscious about the fact that everyone thinks he’s a dumb rodent, but he’s really a mechanical genius which most likely is because he was the result of a genetic and cybernetic experiment gone awry and he’s the only one of his kind. (Feels alone in the universe, deflects with extreme sarcasm)

The humanoid tree, Groot, is Rocket’s guardian and only friend. He only speaks 3 words, just with different inflections. “I am Groot”. Somehow Rocket understands this weird language and you can liken it to the way Han understood Chewie’s weird growls that all sounded the same to us. Groot is the only one of the group who is truly an innocent without any darkness in his soul.

Drax the Destoyer is a warrior whose entire family was killed by Ronan the Accuser (the Bad Guy) and his vow to seek revenge has consumed his every move since then. He’s incredibly literal and it often makes for miscommunication between others. He comes to respect and care for his new allies naming them as friends. (Lost everything that was dear to him)

Gamora was adopted by the Bigger Bad, Thanos, along with her sister Nebula. They were abused and experimented on as children. Gamora turned into an assassin. She is first allied with Ronan, but once she realizes his intentions to wipe out entire planets, she betrays him and goes to steal the orb herself to sell it to a secret buyer. (Jaded and righteous, needs to atone for her evil deeds)

Nebula, the more tragic of the two sisters is the bad girl. Thanos made her into a cyborg. She does everything to get back at Gamora and Thanos because Daddy Thanos loved Gamora more (He flat out says she was his favorite daughter). Nebula becomes incredibly loyal to Ronan but it seems he has no idea because he, like Drax is consumed with revenge. (Daddy issues and sibling rivalry)

Ronan the Accuser is a very powerful Kree and a religious fanatic hell-bent on destroying his mortal enemies. He only sees things as black and white. He ignores the treaty set up between the Kree Empire and the Xandarians and sets out to annihilate them with the Power Infinity Stone, which he had agreed to give to Thanos when he was done with it. However he betrays him stating that he’ll kill Thanos too. (Religious zealot who probably was indoctrinated and now only sees life through the lens of intolerance and hate)

All of their wounds come out at some point and inform the action. Each one does something that turns the plot until they come together not out of necessity but out of a true sense of believing in each other and acceptance. Ronan and Nebula, well they’re the bad guys, so they don’t but they confront some of their issues towards the end, as well. I fully expect to see both of them again so I don’t think we’re quite done exploring what their wound arcs truly are.

It’s good stuff. See the movie for fun. Peel back the layers if you chose. If you don’t, just go to see a great movie, but Marvel’s doing it right. I can only strive to be so brilliant.

Guest Post: Heather Thurmeier, Escape to My Arms

I’m very honored to bring you a guest post from romance author, Heather Thurmeier. She has a new book debuting on April 16th called Escape to My Arms, A Prepper Romance. It’s a little different than her usual lighter contemporaries. This one is filled with adventure, danger and the peril of staying alive, but with her trademark humor. I’m so intrigued by this unique premise. The last thing we think of as a romantic setting is the end of the world, but in reality the continuation of the human race after an apocalypse demands that we get up close and personal with those alpha males who know how to survive. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those badass women who can hold their own along side them. Heather has written the love story of Sara and Dane who find the best in each other when the world is at its worst. She’s been kind enough to come up with valuable advice so that anyone can at least be a little prepared when that inevitable time comes.

Take it away, Heather:

Prepper Basics

Anyone can be a prepper. You don’t have to have a hidden bunker like Sara does in Escape to My Arms. She’s prepping for the end of the world as we know it! Her bunker has it all and then some. Maybe you don’t need to go all the way and become a hardcore prepper, but it definitely doesn’t hurt to have a few basic plans and preps in place. You just never know when something will happen that will cause you to evacuate or to shelter in place. Are you prepared for either? Here are a few of the basics you need to get prepared:

1. Water. Do you have a clean water source? If not, maybe it’s time to buy a filtering pump or build up storage of extra water.

2. Food. Do you have food to feed your family and your pets if you need it? I would recommend a stockpile of non-perishables that can last you at least 2 weeks for starters. Anything extra you can store is great. You can buy freeze-dried meals if you want, or simply store canned goods. Stock up when you see a sale at the grocery store! But remember to use, rotate and replace your stockpile regularly. You don’t want to need your food only to find out it’s all expired.

3. Heat. If you live in a location where the temperatures drop, then you need a plan for heat. How will you stay warm in your home? Make sure whatever you come up with is CLEAN heat. You don’t want to accidentally burn something that is toxic to stay warm.

4. An alternative. What will you do if you can’t make plan A happen? Have you prepared to shelter in place? What happens if you have to evacuate? Make an evacuation plan: Where will you go? How will you get there? How will you let others know where you are? And while you’re at it, pack a Go bag. That’s a backpack full of supplies like food, water, heat, first-aid etc that can last you at least 72 hours—long enough to get you to your meeting place!

If you can get the basics covered, you’ll be in a much better position to survive than someone who hasn’t prepared at all. And maybe you’ll like having the basics so much that you’ll expand your prepping into other areas that will help you survive for longer if ever needed. Maybe one day you’ll end up like Sara with a hidden bunker stockpile with every necessity imaginable! Or maybe you’ll be like me and just have a Go Bag in your car and a little extra food at home.

Happy prepping!

~Heather Thurmeier

http://heatherthurmeier.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherThurmeierAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hthurmeier

Escape-to-my-Arms300x450-1Escape to My Arms blurb:

Sara’s been preparing for this moment her whole life—she just never believed it would actually happen. With her bug-out bag and emergency food already in her truck, her only goal is to get to her family’s hidden bunker and wait out the pandemic that’s hit every major cruise ship port in the US. But her plan quickly falls apart. She’s out of gas, her route to the bunker is now a two-lane parking lot with no alternative in sight, and her only weapon is a pocketknife. For an experienced prepper, she’s made every rookie mistake.

Dane believes he’s safe in his cabin, off the beaten path and in the woods with his own source for water, electricity and an endless supply of food to hunt. After finding Sara stranded and alone, he’s suddenly not only providing for and protecting himself, but also the girl who wandered out of the woods and into his life. When looters come looking to take what he has, Sara and Dane’s only option is to make a run for their last hope—the bunker.

Can Sara and Dane find safety in each other’s arms and will they survive long enough to escape to a future together?

Excerpt:

Sara sipped her wine and nibbled on another square of chocolate. He was right. Again.

They didn’t know what would happen in the future. Hell, they didn’t even know if there was a future to look forward to at this point. So why shouldn’t they enjoy the moments like this one while they could? Moments when they were safe, warm, fed, and comfortable. They might not get many more nights like this if things kept getting worse, as they seemed to be. Best to savor the time while you had it instead of squandering it away with fights.

At this point, she didn’t even know what future awaited her at the bunker. Would she live with her family for the rest of their lives, never to interact with people from the outside world again? That’s sort of what they wanted, wasn’t it? Wasn’t that why they hadn’t told anyone about the bunker, because they couldn’t trust anyone?

What if this was her last night on her own? It might be her last night to live her life however she wanted to before she had to start making group decisions with her family.

“You’re right.” She polished off the last of her wine in a big gulp. Her head already swirled with the effects of the alcohol. She’d always been a lightweight when it came to getting drunk. Tonight would be no different. Good thing she’d planned to stop at one this evening. She had other plans for the rest of the night.

“Right about what exactly? I said a bunch of stuff.”

She put her wineglass on the floor and took his hand in hers. “You were right about enjoying this moment we have tonight since we don’t know what the future holds, or even if we have a future.”

“Does this mean I’m forgiven?” He smiled, squeezing her hand.

“Yes. And then some.”

Sara took the wineglass from his hand and set it down next to hers, then straddled his lap, resting her hands on his chest. She pressed her mouth to his, delighting in the surprise on his face.

She wasn’t a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of girl, but for once she was going to do just that, since she didn’t know if she’d have wind to be cautious of later on. Tonight, she’d live by her feelings. Tomorrow she’d go back to surviving.

Thank you so much for joining us, Heather, and showing us how with a little bit of foresight we all can be badass survivors of the apocalypse.

Pack a Go Bag and be prepped!

~Indigo

Wonder Woman

I’ve recently tapped into my ancient love of Wonder Woman. She was my hero, my goddess, my role-play when I was 8. I wanted to be her, look like her, run around and catch the bad guys with my lasso of truth. She was beautiful and strong and totally awesome. She flew an invisible plane for crying out loud. And Major Steve Trevor… sigh.

I’m not 8 anymore but she’s still a strong reference point for me. I look back to her as my first real role model of badass. However I do have to admit, that the rekindled love for Wonder Woman honestly is about her kickin’ bod. Truth be told. I’m on a fitness regime to whip my couch potato, laptop writing ass back into shape now that I’m technically “over 40”. 41 to be exact. I’m not sure I ever really looked like Wonder Woman even in my 20s. Well… maybe for a hot minute but it was short lived. Ah the good old days… Nevertheless, I’d give my right arm to look like her now. I’m kinda there, just not as sleek, or tall. I’ve been running again and I love it. And sometimes it’s good to set role model up for you to strive for both visually and psychologically.

 

All that is fun and in good humor. The truth is–– I run because I feel empowered when I do it, not really because I want a hot bod like Wonder Woman. That’s just a side-effect bonus. The running gives me a release from the tension, anger and frustration of the day. I’m not running from the problems, rather running through them. It affords me time to work things out in my mind. To plot, to scheme. To rage. It’s meditative. The footfalls, the pattern, the driving music behind me. My mind can elevate to a higher state of consciousness, which I always liken to something my 19th century Romantic Lit professor referenced as Wordsworth’s “Spots of time”. There are moments of clarity when an activity or a feeling is so perfect that the moment transcends reality. We are so in tune to what is occurring, the movement, the air, the feelings and emotions that we are elevated in, out and through the moment to almost hover above and look down on it with a sense of greater understanding. We are connected to it in a way that cannot happen when grounded corporeally. It is a state of mind that becomes physical and in essence heals.

There are in our existence spots of time,

That with distinct pre-eminence retain

A renovating virtue, whence-depressed

By false opinion and contentious thought,

Or aught of heavier or more deadly weight,

In trivial occupations, and the round

Of ordinary, intercourse –– our minds

Are nourished and invisibly repaired;

A virtue, by which pleasure is enhanced,

That penetrates, enables us to mount,

When high, more high, and lifts us up when fallen.

                                                                        ~The Prelude 12.208-218, Wordsworth

I find that this inner mediation helps drive me further. In my struggle to be as badass as I can be, I comprehend the world around me differently. I want control yet there are many things, most things actually, that I cannot control. Situations and circumstances that are beyond my scope of effectiveness. This frustration seeps into daily life if not expelled. The running is the release, the meditation on the aspect, the working through it in my mind and the physical release of endorphins that make me feel good about the decisions I’ve come to. In essence, I am a warrior in training. While I fight the good fight to stay true to my beliefs, I am on a path to make myself strong, both mentally and physically. I am in a constant journey of balance.

Sculpture or a Wounded Amazon Warrior, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sculpture or a Wounded Amazon Warrior, Metropolitan Museum of Art

I channel Wonder Woman’s strength, beauty and set her up as an icon––a goal to strive for and obtain. Wonder Woman was an Amazon. A Greek warrior goddess. Her creators at DC named her alter ego Diana. Make no mistake they chose that on purpose, Diana, Mother Earth, warrior goddess. The huntress. Amazons were bold, fierce warriors. They fought along side and against men, deeply committed to their tribe and society. They farmed, traded, studied and governed on their own as powerful women. They chose to be with men not because they needed them to provide, but because they wanted their companionship. When I said I’d give my right arm to look like Wonder Woman, it brings up an interesting piece of trivia. Amazons were reported to have cut off or even burned off their developing right breast before sexual maturity to strengthen the fighting arm and make it easier to shoot a bow. Now that is true commitment to the warrior sisterhood.

I am committed to this journey of both badassness and strength. It’s a mental and physical quest. As I regain my power, I can tackle things that are more difficult. I can perceive the world around me in a different light.  I can channel that into my writing and draw from that insight. These days I will slay with a pen and my fierce words. I will be the Amazon and huntress of my own world. And I will hold Wonder Woman up as the face of that.

Go forth and experience your own spot of time.

~Indigo

"Badass" International Women’s Day, March 8th

Considering that I celebrate and cherish badass female characters, I figured I should probably do my due diligence and write a post about International Women’s Day, March 8th. Of course I’m late to the party, but whatever. Every day is Women’s Day in my universe. Personally, I find it ridiculous that we even need to have an “official” day to acknowledge fantastic, intelligent, glorious women. Haven’t we grown past the ignorant beliefs of inequality for all people yet? Maybe not because there is still the mindset out there by many that women are less than <<insert a plethora of assumptions here>>. So yeah, maybe we need to stand up and recognize women in all their glory.

I decided to think on this a little before I wrote, which is sometimes a rarity for me because I tend to be very off the cuff about my observations. I didn’t want to sound like I was talking out of my ass, because really how badass would it be to go out there and spout wisdoms that make no sense? Not so much. As writer, I want strong female characters, not because they’re female, but because they’re interesting. They have flaws and make mistakes but persevere despite them and maybe because of them. Being a badass goes hand in hand with kicking ass and taking names, but it’s really about inner truth, inner strength to face what life offers us and making it through the challenges that are presented to us. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. There are real women out there doing it every day. Real women who know who they are, honor their inner demons and turn that adversity into power. I chose four women, both dead and alive, who I admire for a variety of reason but mostly because of their inner strength and they way they live/d their lives.

Four Real Life Badasses in no particular order:

Pat Summitt is the winningest female basketball coach of all time. She is Women’s Basketball Head Coach Emeritus for the University of Tennessee’s Lady Vols program. Her challenging, “take no prisoners” and “give every ounce of your passion” style brought her teams and players to esteemed recognition at a time when women’s sports were in their infancy. She carried on a tradition of excellence that inspired female athletes to break barriers and look deep within themselves to find courage, strength and fortitude. After 38 years and numerous championships, wins and statistics, she retired and announced her beginning struggle with Alzheimers. It’s hard to not stand there and say what a tragedy it is that such a great mind, full of strategy and tough nurturing, will be lost to us. It’s hard to not feel like someone so influential will be taken from us when we need people like her to keep us going––to help us believe in our own strengths  But in truth, she’s already set the foundation. Her legacy lives on in the players’ lives she’s touched and the people like me, who’ve never played a sport, but know and admire her for the kind of person she is and all that she’s achieved.
http://www.utsports.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/summitt_pat00.html

Katherine Hepburn was a trailblazer in a time when beautiful women were looked at as soft sex symbols and an illusion of what women were supposed to be. She was brassy with her deep, gravelly voice, her beauty equally as seductive as Rita Hayworth’s, but she eschewed conventions. She wore trousers when all women were wearing nylons and skirts, she played men’s sports like golf, smoked cigars, said whatever she wanted and carried on the most famous extramarital affair in Hollywood history. For 26 years, she loved Spencer Tracy and hid it from the scrutiny of the world. They were deeply in love yet maintained separate houses and were very careful to not be seen in public together. She never pushed him for a divorce nor did she want to be married again. She was quoted in her biography saying that she “liked the idea of being my own single self”. In a time where women were supposed to be married and have a family, she remained fiercely independent. Even today, most women would classify her as a pariah and a home wrecker. She wasn’t. Tracy’s marriage had been a broken one for many, many years before he even met her. And seriously, if an independent woman can take care of herself and is strong in the notion of who she is, why be married to a man if it’s clear he loves you? Any woman who’s been married knows that having a husband around 24/7 is an issue unto itself. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, especially when he’s not under-feet and pissing you off. Kate knew that, understood that and lived her life as her life. She did what she wanted and didn’t care how she was perceived.

Hillary Rodham Clinton. In contrast to Hepburn, here is the most publicly “embarrassed”, cheated on woman of the late 20th century. Yet, she and Tammy Wynette, stood by their man. Valiant or stupid? Who cares. Hillary is a woman of resources, unending strength, determination and fortitude. Was a woman of her character and drive really going to let her horndog of a husband make her look like an idiot? No. I would bet dollars to doughnuts those two have some kind of ironclad agreement. Probably had for years before the whole BJ scandal happened. Of course that’s just my speculation, not anything steeped in fact. But, I believe that people of money and power live by a different set of values/beliefs/social mores. Whatever you want to call it, they conduct themselves, differently. She had a goal, a clear vision of where she wanted her life to go. She wanted it all and had the intelligence, ambition and wherewithal to do it. She was one of the three most powerful women of our lifetime, in esteemed company with Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice. As Secretary of State, she held the most powerful position in our government next to the President. She was the face of foreign affairs and a critical advisor to President Obama in a time where the Middle East, notorious for their debasement of women, was and still is in tumultuous upheaval. While the country may not have been ready for a woman to rule the world, in many ways she still made her mark on it in a powerful way. For thirty years, she’s been on our radar and a forerunner of change in politics  It is not the good ol’ boys club it used to be. One day there will be a female president, and she will have Hillary to thank for burning out the trail to get there.

Jane Austen was a trailblazer in her own right, in a time where women had no means to do anything. They were not citizens, had no say in the course of their lives and couldn’t own property. They were for all intents and purposes at the mercy of men. A young woman was expected to marry, birth children and take care of the household. Their morality was a reflection on their husband, their beauty a benefit to his wealth and her dowery, or rather what his financial gain from the marriage, a selling point in a union not based on love but monetary gain. How romantic. Yet, Austen wrote of love and passion hidden and buried deep within strict social customs and expectations. She was a great observer of the human condition, like Shakespeare before her. She understood her society with a clarity that set her apart from many of the women of her time. While her novels are mostly about young women and the men they fall in love with despite the challenges of their society and social levels, they celebrate women as passionately intelligent beings. Elizabeth Bennet and her outspoken demeanor, Elinor Dashwood and her steadfast determination to do the right thing, Fanny Price’s faithfulness to her beliefs and her love despite being dirt poor. While Austen herself never married and remained under the protection of her family, she continued to explore the possibilities of love conquering all. And in the long run, she did what hardly any young woman of her time did, she published actual books. Written tomes of beloved literature that transcend centuries of change yet still speak to the nature of the human mind and heart.

Every woman has the potential to be who and what they want to be. We are trained in society to believe certain things, thin=beauty, smart=agressive, independence=aloofness. The only way to break a mold is to shatter it, change the inner perception of what it means to be a woman. Take vulnerability and compassion and make that a strength. Use intellect and strategy to achieve a goal even if its only important to you. Love yourself in spite of your flaws, perceived or real. Be a badass and a master of your own path. We only have one life to live. Celebrate being a woman who deserves to live it.

Namaste,
~Indigo

Can men and women be just friends?

Can men and women be just friends?

Watson and Holmes

I was watching the latest episode of Elementary, the newest Sherlock Homes incarnation, and the “ship” didn’t just graze me, but hit me square on. The boat t-boned me, listed to the side and grounded like a Italian cruise liner in the Med, or the Gulf (anyone else afraid to take a cruise lately?). Let me refresh your  memory or explain for those who haven’t watched this episode. Oh and BTW, it took place on Valentine’s Day so read into that however your little shipper heart desires. Watson has been lying to Sherlock and pretending she is still under the employ of Sherlock’s father as his sober-companion. Well, Sherlock found out. Was she foolish enough to think the master investigator wasn’t going to? Dumbass. But what she doesn’t get is that the truth is: he doesn’t want her to go. So he’s challenged her with staying on as his partner, his companion, as his protégé of sorts. It was a scene full of subtle, raw emotion excellently played by both Lucy Liu and Johnny Lee Miller. Fantastic and it got my heart a twitter. Who knows if it was intentional, it probably is, because as we all know there can never be a purely platonic friendship between a man and a woman on a television show. And not like I’m really going out on a limb here, but there can never be a purely platonic friendship between a man and a woman in real life either. Unless one is gay or ugly. Can I get an Amen?

Shipper Royalty: Scully and Mulder

Shipper Royalty: Scully and Mulder

This is a theme that has fascinated me forever. Friendship between men and women. And more specifically love that grows from a deep friendship and understanding between men and women. I’ve loved it in numerous television shows over the last twenty years and it’s what I explore in my own writing. It’s the foundation of the ‘ship’ for me, more so than the unresolved sexual tension. Carter and O’Neill–Stargate, Mac and Harm–Jag, Picard and Dr. Crusher, Star Trek: TNG, and let us not forget the king of them all, Scully and Mulder–The X-files. Even more recent: Mary and Marshall, In Plain Sight. They however  didn’t fall prey to the trope. But there’s been a trend of late––the ‘Hey, let’s fight the Moonlighting curse and actually get them together’: Brennan and Boothe–Bones, Olivia and Peter–Fringe, Annie and Auggie–Covert Affairs (I don’t agree with that one. I ship for Eyal, so I’m really pissed that she left him in Amsterdam to go home and kiss Auggie because she’s a big fat chicken and needs a security blanket, but I digress.) There are tons more that I’m forgetting and you get the idea. One of the things that drove many episodes and story arcs of those great shows revolved around the sexual tension between the Male and Female leads. It is an epidemic.

Why?

Because it’s interesting and titillating and we can’t help but feel the same way or wish that it was happening to us. Fiction needs to reflect life for it to be relevant  I would venture to say that most people have at some point or another been friends with a member of the opposite sex and had some kind of tingle in the heart and/or nether regions for them. It’s nature, an unwritten law of the universe, there is no way around it. Because it comes down to psychology (emotions) and science (pheromones). Friendships are based on common ground, a sense of camaraderie  and above all trust. Good love relationships are also based on those same principles with the complication of sex thrown in. When we have trust, we feel close to that person and when we feel close to that person we share things that are intimate and private, whether it’s secrets, feelings, truths or sex.

Now, I am no pyschologist, just an observer and explorer of the human condition. But I extrapolate a lot from my own life experience  I have had no less than 5 best friends who are male through the course of my adult life, not including the two men that I married. I have had sex with none of them, but I loved 3 of them, one of which was gay so that statement above of one being ugly or gay doesn’t always apply. (That’s a whole other psychology). One of them, no, not the gay one, I completely misread the signals and had my heart broken. Though I still would bet even odds that he was full of shit and just freaked out that the situation actually presented itself and just couldn’t handle it. He made me unable to read any kind of signal from a man. Radar is broken.

O'Neill and Carter

O’Neill and Carter

So why then does this intrigue me? I’ve tried to look at the answers over the course of my life and the mistakes that I’ve made. And boy I’ve made a few. But, through analyzing my past friendships, I think it comes down to one thing. I think women just want men to talk with them as equals and understand them. We feel empowered when a man understands us––like we’ve been privy to the key to a really secret club. We should hope that this comes from our spouse or significant other. But sometimes it doesn’t. Me, I’ve been very lucky. This time around the marriage arena, I’ve struck gold and he understands me perfectly clear. However, doesn’t mean that I still don’t relish in the understanding I get from my significant male friends.

The Dear Husband jokes that I have a stable of men. And maybe I do, some infinitely more important than others. Would any of them lead to an affair? Hah, in a perfect world with no consequences… where jealousy and territorial boundaries didn’t exist… then it wouldn’t be an affair, more a simple understanding that fundamentally human beings don’t mate for life. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe this.

Humans do not mate for life.

The idea of soul mates is fantastic and romantic. And yes we can meet our perfect other half. However, what is never discussed is that as we grow and change through our life, we often take a different shape and need a different perfect other half. Why? Because we don’t mate for life. Why else do you think that Ménage à trois books and the alternative lifestyle of swinging is coming to the forefront? It’s not just about sex with someone else. It’s about loving more than one person, sometimes at the same time.

Their heads make a heart. Seriously? Stop mocking us.

We are not swans, gibbons, wolves, bald eagles, turtle doves or albatrosses. What is it with birds and the pledge of undying love, huh? Do they understand something that we don’t? Not really. They are animals that aren’t driven by emotional connections. We try to be dedicated to our one and only. But, in my whole life, I have only ever met one couple who were in complete and everlasting love until one of them died after nearly forty years together. And I’ll give you a hint––they never had children. It was just them. (Again, a whole other psychology to explain that one). More than fifteen years after her death, he was still deeply in love with her. Like George Burns and Gracie Allen. It was sweet. And completely unnatural.

George and Gracie

George and Gracie

Now that doesn’t make me a cynic, just a realist. I am a dyed in the wool romantic. I love the idea of deep, soul crushing love. It’s why I write romances. But I do believe that we can find that love multiple times in our life, if we’re lucky and connect with the right people. Different people come into our life at times for different reasons. If we think of life as a predestined path, we meet people along that path who are there for certain reasons, many of which are unknown to us at the time. They are there to help us, guide us, teach us, and share parts of ourselves that others don’t have the wherewithal, means or connection to do so.

How does this relate to the concept that men and women cannot be platonic friends? Well, if there is truth to the fact that we don’t mate for life, we seek out or discover connections to others to fill something in ourselves. Sometimes is starts as a friendship and then it morphs into something deeper. Sometimes it starts as an attraction and then morphs into a friendship.  Depends on the pheromones and the boundaries or emotional state/needs of those involved. The pure fact that we can’t have a television show where the male and female lead aren’t flirting gratuitously, the sexual tension crackling on the screen is testament to that. We are excited by emotional connection. We love the build up and the evolution of a relationship, that ebb and flow of tension and release, the dreaded ‘C’ word–– Conflict. Relationships in books and television/movies without conflict, that fundamental something that keeps them apart, lack sizzle and the taboo of the ‘want’ and the ‘need’. We strive for the ease of connection in our own lives because living in a state of continuous conflict is tiring and stressful. But we crave it in our entertainment because it’s exciting and we flirt with it in our daily lives to make ourselves feel alive.

Mary and Marshall, BFFs for life

Mary and Marshall, BFFs for life

Do I want Sherlock and Watson to get naked and bump uglies? The jury is still out on that for me. He’s a tough character to fall in love with. Yeah, I fell head of heals in love with House because of his complexities and vulnerabilities that he denied,  no doubt. He had infinite depth. Sherlock, the template for House, even in this modern incarnation, is fundamentally the same. Is he capable of loving someone who doesn’t fill some sort of purpose for him? Is Watson his other half? She certainly balances him and like all good functional/dysfunctional relationships, they feed off of each other’s needs. I’d love it if they explored it. But I’d also be thrilled if they took the trope and spun it on its head like they did in In Plain Sight with Mary and Marshall. Have the balls to do it differently. But then again, my little shipper heart wanted Marshall to pledge his undying love for her too and for her to accept it. He ultimately did, but not in the romantic way. It was quite beautiful.  It’s still early for Sherlock and Watson. Elementary is sowing the seeds, that fabulous awkward confession was perfect fertilizer. The rest remains to be seen. 

In the meantime, I will continue to explore this concept with my own characters. The Overwatch series is steeped in the idea of a man and a woman as best friends who fall in love. Their issues keeping them apart stem from the concept of ‘duty over self’. In my upcoming sci-fi romance series, I will examine the concept again between a man and a woman who’ve fought a war together for years when suddenly they realize the other person is and has been their significant other the entire time, that their strength comes from within themselves, but is compounded by the support and love from the other. And in the continuation of the Overwatch series, I’m going to flip the concept inside out and take a look at what happens when you can’t be with the one you love most. How do you reconcile that your other half has found their other half and it isn’t you?

So may ideas, so many men, so little time…
Story of my life.
Namaste,
~Indigo

**All images are not mine and belong to others.