Book Review: The Jaguar’s Children (Really Important Point of View)

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The Jaguar’s Children is an interestingly framed book; it takes place entirely in a water truck tank into which far too many people have been packed by the coyotes they hired to help them cross the US/Mexico border. It is told from the point of view of one person, Hector, as the truck is driven, then abandoned, the people inside left with only what little they brought for a “quick ride.” The tanker sits in the harsh desert sun, almost completely sealed, hidden by brush.

One of two things can happen, our narrator can wind up the only survivor or he too will succumb before they are found. That’s not really the issue, though, it’s the story of how he, and so many others, came to a place where climbing into a water tanker and letting themselves be sealed into it was an act they viewed as their only chance to get to safety.

From Oaxaca, through Mexico to the border, Hector’s recollections describe a hopeless world, where native tribes and farmers have been destroyed by big agri-business, those charged with upholding the law are working only as a government sanctioned gang, and lives and livelihoods are being lost at a terrible rate. It is a compelling, important story told from a point-of-view often ignored in literature, and it feels like something one really *should* read, even if it is violent and sad. 4 stars.

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Shopping Saturday: The Scares

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So, it’s almost Halloween, so I perused some of the scary/fascinating stuff I gravitate towards on Etsy.

First is a necklace made of a resin (reproduction) kitten skull. By Etsy seller Hysteria Machine, a shop brimming over with creepy-tastic items.

Next to that is a REAL, yes REAL, beetle-cleaned rabbit skull. Y’know. If that isn’t scary to consider arriving via post. By Etsy seller Den of Dermestid. What would you do with it? The Acolyte and I would likely paint it gold, to be honest. We are slightly obsessed with painting things gold.

At the end of the skull row, a really beautiful resin raven skull necklace. By Etsy seller RavenRanch, a new favorite.

Next, on to eyeballs. Eyeballs are creepy. First, a set of doll’s eyes, which I think I might need to own, from Etsy seller TheDollEyes.

Middle…um…okay, these scare the shit out of me. Seriously. From Etsy seller SillyCut. They have a huge variety of creepy, beautiful, weird stuff. And those scary earrings.

Cheap thrills? An eyeball ring. From Etsy seller iceblues.

Finally….dolls. I own the scariest old doll EVER, but since there is only the one, here are some others (also, my ex-husband is/was terrified of dolls, and if I were the vindictive sort I might sort of torture him but, I am not vindictive. Much).

Old composition dolls are the scariest because they come apart in layers. Like this poor soul. Does it have a soul if it’s only a head? From Etsy seller VintageSupplyCo.

Not as scary as some, but give her a year in the compost heap and she’ll come around. Just a head, from Etsy seller reginasstudio.

Finally, YES. You scary motherfucker, you. Who cares about the other dolls in the lot? Not me. From Etys seller rustjunkyvintage.

Feminist Friday: No Protection for Strong Women

I have to be a little vague, here, as I am in the middle of some things. I learned, yesterday, that there isn’t any legal protection for “strong women.” What that means is either someone discriminates against all women, or there’s really no legal standing. I understand that. There aren’t laws against being an asshole, either, at least in a general sense.

Reflecting, then, on last week’s post, I would suggest that this is what makes being a strong woman even more challenging. Being a strong woman is being a pioneer of sorts–it’s a novel thing, it’s a rare thing, and thus being one will not only attract attention, but also backlash. I’m not the first strong woman, and there have been strong women as long as there have been women (so: Always), but they have never had it easy. Maybe it’s just that one’s refusal to couch their opinion in qualifying language means they go unheard or dismissed for being “shrill” or lacking a “sense of humor.” Maybe it’s just that the girls who don’t modify their voice and drop their eyes don’t get the smile from the instructor. Or, maybe it’s that one is threatened online for suggesting that men are the only people responsible for rape. Or told they can’t wear white for their wedding because they aren’t a virgin, or no longer invited out for drinks because they objected to a rape joke. It goes on and on.

It’s a hard road a woman chooses when she chooses to be strong. She will be forced to deal with a lot of hostility, passive aggressive and aggressive-aggressive behavior. She will constantly be fighting; tiny verbal disagreements about the concept of TOTAL bodily autonomy or pointing out what it means when someone says “screams like a little girl” or saying that it isn’t necessary for a co-worker to define her by her reproductive status. A million billion little battles. Then there are the bigger battles, and sometimes there are violent ones.

Women whose survival strategies include accepting the status quo and/or developing a sort of Stockholm Syndrome with their oppressors will see the strong woman as much as an enemy as many men do. At best they might be your friend but say, “Well, I know you are right, but only YOU could stand up that way.” Even when the strong woman is sobbing in her car because not even her sisters are standing up with her, and she must carry the entire load on her aching back. It would be so much easier with help.

Ultimately, though, strong women really can’t stop being strong. It would be like trying to un-know something, like that the sky is blue. There’s no getting away from one’s nature. There’s no closing your eyes once they are open. To every strong woman out there, I salute you. Cry in your car. Scream when you are overwhelmed. Know that you are making a difference, know that you are not entirely alone. Because, there’s at least one other one, and maybe your actions are the spark that starts to awaken another one from her slumber. You are doing the right thing. Also, though, you cannot do it all. You must keep self-care at the forefront. The battle is not just your responsibility. Do your part, but don’t sacrifice yourself for something no one will help you with. Do what you need to do to live with yourself, but there’s no reason to die trying. Your sisters need you, and you deserve to rest and recover before heading back out into the fray.

OOTD: There’s Nothing I Won’t Do For Tom Smith

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Two weeks after my heart surgery, my dear and beloved friends Tom and Kevin invited me to their going away party. Because Tom loves a wide, flowing pant, I made this pair of harem pants exclusively to wear to this party. The fabric claims to be silk (I say, “DAMN LIE”) and is the most awful, wonderful fabric in the world.

I also presented him with a jar of my tears, but they had dried into salt crystals, so he could season his happiness with my despair.

Top: Vintage lingerie piece.

Pants: yeah.

Sandals: ModCloth

OOTD: The Traditional New Mexico Question

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Red and Green, just like a Christmas enchilada plate….

Necklace: Lovely turquoise made by coworker

Top: ModCloth–it drapes perfectly

Pants: HAREM PANTS AGAIN. I adore them. They are my new favorite thing. And they are easy to make.

Sandals: Some cheapie ones from ModCloth, too, but I had to cute teh middle strappy bits out. High arches, the struggle is real.

Book Review: Live Through This (Why Memoir is Often Inadvisable)

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Live Through This is on shaky ground from the get-go because it is a memoir. Obviously intended to grab readers via its “shocking” content, it is a mother’s story of her two daughters’ ongoing, frightening attempts at total self-destruction.

The problem with memoirs is that often the person telling the story is too close to it to speak in any objective way about it—and also that they might not be good writers.  This memoir belongs in the hands of only one person and that person needs to be a highly trained, really competent therapist who has dealt with extreme cases of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The mother, for all her graphic recitation of events, never once discusses the horrors her daughters went through in any way beyond how they affected HER, how SHE felt, how SHE interpreted. She is pathologically unable to produce any meaningful sense of empathy or pain on the behalf of her children or insight as to who they were and why they made the choices they did—they just seem to be bad girls hell bent on torturing their poor mother—which eventually makes the reader pause and wonder just what’s wrong with this woman?

Even as the book moves to the “Reclaimed Love” ending, it is clear that the mother has changed absolutely nothing about herself. There are points where I wanted to throw the book across the room (but I didn’t, Nooks are expensive) and shout at her, “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE GIRLS? I know YOU had pain, we’ve read many pages of that, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?” This book is a testament to personality disorder, and how the disordered person is entirely unable, incapable, of viewing anything in any way except through the lens of their pathology. One Star. I hope her shrink read it, and I hope her daughter’s shrinks are helping them to see how damaged and sick their mother is.