Saturday, April 26, 2008

Baba Yaga Boney-legs has teeth made of steel

I was always the witch in school plays, never the princess. This was because witches had coarse dark hair and princesses long blond tresses. To boot, I was kind of an ugly kid, with big glasses and physically awkward, and thus certainly not suited for princess roles. Back in elementary school this used to make sad, and even, silently and secretly, mad, because back then, I still believed in the transformative powers of donning a crown and a pink sateen dress. It was my thinking, that being allowed to play the princess, would somehow make me one in essence, that it would make me beautiful and accepted.

As the years passed and my witching résumé grew longer (I've played the witch at least in Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Hansel and Gretel), I learned to embrace my weirdness, and realised that unlike princesses, witches had power. They were their own women, with character, a personality beyond beauty and cleverness. They were different, lived by their own rules, and were certainly not in any need of rescue, unlike their golden-haired counterparts. The notion of their evilness too, quickly comes into question when one probes beyond the Christian re-telling of old folk-tales.
My all-time favorite witch (whom I also got to play in 5th grade in a play I adapted and directed myself) is Baba Yaga, the Russian hag who flies in a mortar and lives in a house that walks on chicken legs. Invariably Baba Yaga is portrayed in fairy-tales as a complex character, capable of both good and evil, terrible monster and a wise giver of council, from whom even the Tšars ask for advice. She also commands these dashing gentlemen:

Fair or dark, I think girls would fare better if they took their cues from sorceresses and hags, rather than high-born ladies. We are all destined to become hags eventually, and personally, I would rather become one with power.

Listening to: Annbjørg Lien
Images from: Wikipedia
Amazing use of the story of Baba Yaga and my fave movie: Lawn Dogs

PS. I realise that my email moniker might raise some eyebrows in connection to the princess-bashingness of this post, but that is another story.
Also, I'd like to add as a humorous fact, that I did, in the end actually get to marry a Prince, despite my witchy credentials. That's my husband's surname.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I never asked for to find my twin but there you are

Doppelgängers, evil or otherwise, are an interesting concept. How many times, for instance, have you heard someone you just met, gush something along the lines of: "You remind me so much of my friend such-and-such!" or "You look exactly like this girl I used to know in Anchorage!"? Yet you never get to meet these people, who are supposedly so very much like you. Ever wonder why? I do. I'm an only child, so I've always been fascinated by the idea that there could be someone out there, who might bear my likeness, who might talk the way I do, or dress like me, with whom I might share a certain identical gesture, or mannerism. That they might be a total stranger, makes this thought all the more thrilling.

There's a reason, however, why you're never suppose to meet your non-biological twin. In mythology Doppelgängers are often seen as harbingers of death, or other calamities. They are, in a way the ghost of you, before you're dead, or an evil self trying to take over your life. Seeing one usually forewarns you of your own demise. The poet Shelley, for instance, was reported to have met his, shortly before his death. It is said that these doubles cast no shadow, and sometimes can't be seen by others, though Shelley's likeness was supposedly seen by his landlady and one of his friends too.

Be that is it may, the next time someone tells me they know a person who looks exactly like me, I'll demand evidence and perhaps, if I dare, an introduction.

Images from:
(they're not related as far as I know...)
Listening to:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

It takes a lot of nerve to destroy this wondrous earth

Clear-cutting, a logging practise in which most, or all trees in a forest sector, are cut, (as wikipedia so nicely puts it) is the focus of short film I'm currently researching, and a day of reading up on it, has got me thinking about the ecological effects of our everyday choices. A lot of people I know and love have a shockingly laissez-fair attitude about these matters. This pertains particularly to young urbanites, who's whole self-image is based on consumption. It is often the case, that in these superficially eco-conscious days, people either feel there's nothing they can do about their ecological toll on the planet, or that they're already doing enough, and certainly a lot more than most other people.

I call the former the "what difference does one H&M T-shirt make in the face of the melting ice-caps?"-approach, and the latter the "This H&M T-shirt is made of organic cotton!"-justification. Don't get me wrong. I have bought many a water-wasting, erosion causing H&M T-shirt myself, and guzzled enough gas on frivolous trips to fill a tanker, and often feel I'm still none the wiser. It's true that in the face of such momentous destruction of eco-systems, as the one we're currently facing, one is tempted to seek solace in one's own little pastimes; such as art, music, fashion, travel to the corners of the earth that may not be there for much longer, to escape the enormous burden of guilt we've heaped upon ourselves.

And what does all this have to do with the trees and the mass-extinctions of them, that is clear-cutting?
Last summer, my husband and I, visited the Hoh rain forest, in the Olympic National park (in a gas-guzzling car of course), where we saw some of the biggest and the most beautiful trees in the world. To get to the park you have to travel trough privately owned land, most of it clear-cut to resemble a forest version of Hiroshima, or second-growth, which is as dark and dense as a nightmare. It was one of the most depressing things I've ever seen, and it took away from the pleasure of seeing the beautiful rain forest, knowing that it could so easily be turned into board feet of lumber, that those thousand-year-old trees were far from sturdy when it came to modern logging equipment. It made me angry to think about it, and when you're angry, you usually look for someone to blame. Who was at fault here, I wondered? The lumber companies and their greed? The politicians who did not expand the National Parks, who leased the companies public land for a dime and a song? Sadly no. In the end, it has always been the consumer, she who just has to buy new IKEA bookshelves, because they're just so cheap, and go so well with the new IKEA sofa. That consumer, by and large, is me, and everyone I know. It makes no difference that IKEA doesn't buy old growth timber, or that I don't own a single stick of furniture from IKEA, or even that I've not bought anything new made of wood in my whole life. It is the principle of the matter. What to do about it exactly, I am not certain, but I think of those trees every time I feel the urge to buy one of those organic cotton H&M T-shirts.
Listening to: Bowerbirds

Friday, April 11, 2008

Odd Hobbies

If I had to name the one thing that has affected my personal style the most, it'd be a close tie between my 50s paper-dolls and Holly Hobbie. That's right: Holly Hobbie, the 70s, 80s icon that graced a variety of items a little girl might own. Her bonneted likeness could be found on mugs, notebooks, jewelry, lunch-boxes, you name it, she was on it. Originally conceived as a nameless greeting-card figure in the early 1970s, she quickly became known as the illustrator's namesake. Holly (the character) is a sort of universal American pioneer girl, apt at such pioneer girlish pastimes as sewing, cooking, and gardening. While she's gentle and kind, she seems to also posses the character and spunk, that epitomizes New World girl heroines, from Laura Ingalls Wilder (another fashion icon), to Anne of Green Gables and Jo of Little Women. She's always wearing something cute, cozy and romantic; from her signature patchwork apron over her blue prairie dress and matching bonnet, to shorter, more Gunne Sax-like numbers. Which is why, altrough my teens and twenties she's been lurking in the back of my head, whispering in my ear about calico and floral patterns and petticoats and shoes that you can climb a tree in, if need be. Oh, and encouraging me in pursuing such pioneer girlish pastimes as sewing, cooking and gardening. Pesky lil' bugger...

Listening to: ghost bees

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Horse and I

I was never "a horse girl", as they were, quite unflatteringly referred to, back in elementary school. Everyone knows the type: girls who spent all their free time at the stables, grooming and sweeping and shoveling manure, virtually indentured slaves to the stable owners. These girls didn't just ride horses, they talked horses, read horses, and were (in hindsight) a bit disturbingly infatuated with the beasts. I was a geeky girl, with allergies and an aversion to exercise, but still, there was something mythical and alluring about horses.

Aside from truly mythical variations of horse, such as unicorns, Pegasus, and perhaps, the most Freudian variety, the centaurs, the actual flesh and blood horses themselves manage to inspire great awe and art. Who could, for instance, forget Sylvia Plath's poem Ariel, in which she references perhaps the most famous female horse lover in history (except maybe for those nasty rumors about Catherine the Great), Lady Godiva? An early 11th century figure, the myth of Lady Godiva states that she rode naked, save for her lustrous hair, trough the streets of Coventry in protest of her husband's unfair taxation of the town's inhabitants. Wether the tale is true, or not, makes no difference; it gave birth to a myth that tied the independence, and fierceness of a woman's spirit, to riding and thus controlling such a powerful beast. It was in fact this mythology, that Plath herself was living out in those bitter weeks she wrote the poem, her marriage in shambles, and her life upturned.

I rode my first horse, many years after elementary school and the horse girls, an old white mare, bare back, with only a silk scarf around her neck for me to cling onto. This, apparently, is how hippies ride horses. As soon as we left the pasture, the horses, giddy with freedom, began running faster and faster, the other riders whooping with the joy of adventure and adrenalin, and me, pressing myself against the mare for dear life. The trees whirled past, the mare's hair got into my eyes. Galloping trough the forest and the fields, somewhere beneath my terror, I experienced the odd sensation of being part of something bigger than myself, usually saved for brief religious enlightenment and near death experiences (which is actually a pretty accurate way to describe my horsing adventure). It only dawned on me later, that for a little while I'd tapped into some wild, atavistic corner of myself, that I'd felt as though I was the one running uncontrollably trough the trees.

These things came to mind when I purchased myself this lil' good luck charm:

Image from Reyney's Etsy

There's a marvelous story called Horse Camp by Ursula K. Le Guin that articulates 'the horse girl'-phenomenon perfectly (and with a delightful twist). It is included in this collection

Listening to: Bat For Lashes