Resting Bitch Face

Resting Bitch Face. It’s an interesting phrase. An especially funny one when you’re with your friends, and joking about the confused boy who thought you were acting too “snobby” for him, or the hurt girl who seriously thought you hated her because your lips forgot to quirk into a smile. A particularly irksome one when everyone thinks you’re upset because only your eyebrows move, and your eyelashes flutter, when you’ve (yet again, apparently) taken a joke too seriously. Yet, after the jokes have passed, and the humour is settled, you take some time to think. Why is a woman, whose default expression is one of impassivity, a bitch, but the man beside her, whose impassive face could rival a stone, merely a “serious, studious, focused young man”?

We are taught from a young age that a woman is entirely her emotions, and a man is merely the sum of his ability to keep his emotions in check. We are informed by our peers, and their approving elders, that a woman whose hugs linger too long, or occur too often, is either clingy, or promiscuous. On the other side, the man whose hands remain around your shoulders for slightly longer than is necessary, or the boy whose grip around your waist is too tight, and uncomfortable, is simply “trying to be friendly”. There is no lascivious intent to his actions.

One could say, that the lack of expression is a symptom of emotional retardation. A woman who has taken her self too seriously, and has not learned that every touch, and smile, and wave, is not a bullet meant to pierce her heart. Of course then, you’d be missing all the times said woman’s face has crumpled, into a crease of lines she is still learning to erase. Lines drawn, and crafted by the sensitivity that has allowed her to see when her best-friend’s eyes are too low, or that her supposed enemy’s smile doesn’t quite crinkle at the corners the way they should. And perhaps, you’d miss the moment when she passes a stranger who looks a little too sad on the street, so she pauses to smile, and say “Good morning”.

I supposed, it could be, that we have been taught to either fear, or laugh at those things that have hidden power. A woman who has learned to master her emotions, to save them for the moments when the world will not rip her apart, is a dangerous thing. Her smiles are rare, and powerful. They love, they caress, and often they hide. They hide the scars that have taught her that it is sometimes wiser to wait, and observe before she allows the layers of her soul to be peeled away.

I rather like my “resting-bitch-face”, and for those who know me, they are well aware it is not the entirety of me. Sure, I can smile at you–in a way that let’s you know the very thought of you does light up my world. Or I can smirk wickedly, and utter a joke I’m not sure my mother would ever quite approve of. And just maybe, I am capable of picking the phone up at 3 a.m., and responding to your messages when it seems like everyone has forgotten you, and gone to bed…but what would I know? I am, after all, an emotionless, expressionless woman, with “resting-bitch face”. Or…am I? Judging is a dangerous thing.

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And for the last time, me expressing my choice to not respond to some creepy male’s approach, does not a lesbian make me. How about you try being friendly first? No woman is going to respond to attention thrown at her, if it makes her feel uncomfortable.

*Originally written on my Facebook Page*

Hamartia.

“Some infinities are larger than other infinities…”- The Fault In Our Stars

Originally, I had made plans to see The Fault in Our Stars with a friend. As anyone who has ever spent more than half of their life reading understands, sometimes you really feel the need to read the book before you see the movie. So, I spent between eight to sixteen hours (time is rather vague when you’re trapped between pages) voraciously pouring through this novel. I did so, partly to see why everyone was so obsessed with it; mostly to see if I too would fall under its spell; and mainly, so that I would be able to watch the movie with that superior air many readers wear upon hearing their favourite book has become a film.

I was stunned.

Stunned because it was so simple, and yet it was not–no Salman Rushdie this John Green fellow. Stunned because it felt a tad pretentious, as if it were trying too hard, and yet it was not–coincidentally, this is the sort of thing a certain Hazel Grace might have noted. Stunned because it was about death, and dying…and yet it was not. In the words of the story, “Some infinities are [greater] than other[s].” And in the case of this novel, the infinite presence of its aphorisms are far greater than its infinite hamartia.

Hamartia–the fatal flaw.

I have spent so much time musing, and contemplating the various impressions, and phrases which have resonated with me from this tale, that I’ve discovered my own hamartia. I’ve found the hamartia of my love. I’ve found the hamartia of my thoughts. I’ve found the hamartia of my reading. You could say I discovered the very essence of hamartia. Perhaps, I’m being hyperbolic, but hey, a girl has got to enjoy the one moment something from literature class (hamartia) actually develops some usefulness in everyday life. What I will say, is that every new thought led to another, and I felt a marvellous need to pick up a pen, or open a new document, or write a new blog post (ha) just to document my musings.

One of the first things I noted to myself, once I was finished, was that this novel was not what I expected. The story was no great epic; no Romeo and Juliet; or Othello, or Ramayana. In fact, it’s not even The Notebook. Yet, it would be unfair to judge the book against the contents of these wonderful works of literature. Primarily because this novel is life without its favoured euphemisms, or the larger than life issues that exist in the average literary masterpiece. It portrays life in the disillusionment which comes from having your greatest wish fulfilled. It walks upon the edge of life’s inevitability with the very real presence of death’s weight. The story trudges determinedly through mortifying humiliation, and children who are more adult than adults. Adult not in the sense of love, or responsibility, but rather with their lens of clarity which long-term suffering, that sets one apart from the rest of the healthy child to young adult population, creates. These characters, a small circle of cancer-ridden adolescents, are so beautifully involved in their love, that one cannot help, but dream with them. Unfortunately, neither they, nor we, are allowed to dream. Why is that?

Even at the very beginning of their developing affections for each other, I was left thinking that they had fallen in love too soon. Grown too fond too quickly. Skipped far too many stages of adolescent “love”, for me to take them seriously. And then, it hit me. These were not people with time. These were individuals who had seen mortality virtually every day of their diagnosed lives. Hazel Grace, and Augustus Waters could die that day, or three weeks later. Therefore, why in God’s name would they waste time with the usual overtures of adolescent dating? Where could they find the precious time to send coy text messages, or meet “accidentally” at a place they’d never heard of, much less seen? How could they sneak out after curfews to enjoy some time at a mutual friend’s party? How could they randomly bump into each other in the hallways at school, when the very idea of attending school carried so much weight? I’d say the words of Augustus Waters sums up the entire situation:

“I enjoy looking at beautiful people, and I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence.”

Certainly not the most profound thing to have been said in this novel, but Augustus leaves a few words unspoken:

“I decided a while ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of existence [because there is no guarantee of extended time. There is no certainty that tomorrow, you, or I will be there to enjoy the little things that so many others take for granted.]”

When viewed in the context of their lives, it weighs as heavily as a live grenade in the hand. The grenade Hazel Grace fears she will be to those that love her. The grenade a certain someone turned out to be upon an inevitable surrender to death. Except, it wasn’t a destructive explosion which that someone left behind in the wake of loss; rather, it was an explosive revelation. The revelation that physical pain does not transcend love. That even the most torturous moments leave room for the gallows humour that can make one more day easier. That even death can bring a gift for the living.

In short, I understood it. Their rapid fall into a pure, less-infantile love than most display today made sense. We were given just enough to dream of love, but even in the act of loving, it was impossible not to see how little this was a dream. This was the raw courage of knowing that there could be loss at any moment. It was the contrasting vision of an oasis, woefully surrounded by the sands of the desert.

One could say that I fell in love with this book the way Hazel Grace fell for Augustus Waters, and his beautiful blue eyes:

“I fell in love with [it], the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.”

There are so many things I can say about this book, so many quotes I could post. I could rave about John Green’s sense of humour which runs rampantly throughout this book, both intentionally, and unintentionally (to be honest, I can’t say there are many ways that an illness like this can make anyone laugh, especially for people like me who have seen its effects on loved ones first hand, but by Jove, I laughed at so many places). Green’s stark contrasts of health, and illness; the varying degrees of being healthy we all take for granted; and his habit of prodding all the right places, do so much for the overall story. I can’t think of another novel about death, dying, illness, heartbreak, and the very real struggles of being both the “leaver” and the impending “leavee”, that offers such a balanced dose of moroseness, and sweet gratification.

This novel has “An Imperial Affliction“, and it is that you will fall prey to its hamartia. You will think, and you will muse. You’ll find yourself unable to fall asleep because you either can’t stop thinking about the book’s characters, or can’t stop musing over how any of the wonderful lines in there simply keep coming back to you over, and over again. Although you might think, “Well, this was a royal load of horseshit.”, you’ll remember the quiet wonder that comes from having that little “space” on the phone where only you, and the one you’re speaking to exists. You’ll notice things about death that you hadn’t noticed before. Though you’ll say, “None of this nonsense would ever happen in real life”, you’ll constantly remember that there was at least one part of this book, where you had “it”: that epiphany. That grandiose moment that returns over, and over again to haunt you, and remind you why you adore reading so much. I’ll simply end here, with one very teenage moment; nothing profound, or great, just two kids being kids:

“Do you have a Wish?’ he asked, referring to this organization, The Genie Foundation, which is in the business of granting sick kids one wish.

‘No’ I said. ‘I used my Wish pre-Miracle.’

‘What’d you do?’

I sighed loudly. ‘I was thirteen,’ I said.

‘Not Disney,’ he said.

I said nothing.

‘You did not go to Disney World.’

I said nothing.

‘HAZEL GRACE!’ he shouted. ‘You did not use your one dying Wish to go to Disney World with your parents.’

‘Also Epcot Center,’ I mumbled.

‘Oh, my God,’ Augustus said. ‘I can’t believe I had a crush on a girl with such cliché wishes.”

**Author’s Note: I tried to be as spoiler-free as possible. Forgive me if I wasn’t.

Perplexed Youth

In a world where everyone is striving to be politically correct, where the abnormal is now viewed as normal and normal is viewed as abnormal; in a world where having morals can make one a social pariah, or being from another culture  may make you an outsider, how does any youth learn moral good and/or break away from the pressures? Not just those pressures from peers, but the very covert ones, (and sometimes overt pressures) that come from “well-meaning adults”. It is no longer simple  for any individual to mention the name of any god, proclaim his/her beliefs, or simply mention their point of view about the very natural aspects of the human family life, without that poor individual being labelled as an uncaring, intolerant, or fanatical, moralistic human. It is not always safe anymore to proudly proclaim your homeland or heritage. Though, the question should be, ” Was there ever a time when these aspects of life co-habited lovingly? Will there ever be such a time?” Let me slow down, it seems I’m getting ahead of myself.

It was just a few days ago that I ran across an article that forced me to stop and think. A 17 year old student had painted a mural showing the progression,the growth of a male, from babe to adulthood. Her perspective of  the traditional male’s life included the male maturing into a centered individual with a wife and child. Does that sound very controversial to you? Well apparently to some, it was. This young lady, Liz Bierenday, was sharing her perspective of the traditional family, unfortunately its meaning was misconstrued. There were some who saw it as an offence to the LGBT community. A community that was once a minority, is now just as strongly in the forefront as the heterosexual community. With this increased presence, the world seems to be moving from one extreme to the other. Maddeningly searching for any little detail that can be seen as offensive because they fear that the rights of these individuals will once again be trampled upon. In their zeal for impartiality, tolerance, and understanding, they are quickly forcing the once traditional aspects of society to quiver in fear.  How you ask? By becoming the very forces they are trying to correct, hypocritical, intolerant, biased individuals. Unfortunately, this is not the only area of life in which over-zealous, well-meaning individuals are doing more harm than good. Even religion is quickly becoming taboo.

If one even slips out with a warm “Salaam alaikum“, “Namaste“, “May God be with you”, or “Shalom“, eyes glance accusingly in the direction of that daring religious fanatic. How dare that individual mention the name of any god? Can you believe that news anchor just used religious phrasing? Can’t he/she see that I am an atheist? Doesn’t that idiot know that I’m an agnostic? The “universe” forbid that any god’s name be mentioned in the public forum, after all, this must mean that the Crusades are returning, or that Islamic extremists are once more planning a historic attack against some unsuspecting nation.

Unfortunately, this is now a regular occurrence in most societies that we interact with. Suspicion is strong against anyone who is a little too vocal about any opinion, persons who barely understand the culture of various nations proclaim themselves experts of their every move. No one has the right to belittle an individual for being different, or for willingly accepting that they are part of a particular religion. As a Christian, independent-minded individual, I expect that my rights to believe in God and talk about him are respected just as well as my bestfriend’s right to be an agnostic and ignore my ramblings. As a heterosexual, I would hope that my children (the ones I’ll have when I’m old enough) won’t have to be afraid to mention that they’re from a family with opposite sex parents.

Along with these current issues, is the fact that many persons are still fearful of cultures that they do not belong to. Ignorance, fear of the unknown, and in some cases, a stubborn desire to not co-habit with “outsiders” or interact with them has created many misunderstandings. The awful thing, is that all societies seem to embrace one common excuse, “Humans are supposed to fear anything that is different, we are biologically wired to do so, just like any other species of animal.” How can that be a valid excuse? As it stands, while all other species have some form of brain or instinct, there are none that can function as intelligently as humans. We have the ability to create remarkable innovations, discover or create cures for illnesses that have long plagued humanity. Other species, while similar to us homo sapiens (hope I spelt it correctly), viz. our monkey and chimpanzee friends, and man’s beloved bestfriend–dogs, don’t have those mental capacities; yet they are still capable of integrating into our human world. They have proven themselves capable of adaptation, tolerance, and unconditional love for creatures which are obviously different from them. If these animals are capable of such actions, what excuse does humanity have for ostracising, stigmatising, and/or discriminating against people who are all part of the human race? They all have the same biological make-up, with a few minor obvious tweaks here and there. True, they have different cultures, religions, practices, heritages, but they are as normal as the person you sit next to on the train, or that co-worker you talk with at work, or the friend you grew up with from the cradle.

As a youth in my teenage years, I shouldn’t have to fear whether my discourses on Facebook, or my vocal discussions with my friends will leave me attached with any form of stigma. There should be a limit to how far an individual can express his/ her perspective, I agree. After all, having one’s own perspective does not give you the right to force others to see it, neither should one express an opinion in such a way that it is considered overly offensive. However, the right to an opinion, to a differing point of view is universal, and no one has the right to refuse that. The opinion can be questioned or refuted respectfully, but not beaten down, trodden, or thrown into the proverbial gutter because it suits an individual in authority. Not every Christian wants to start a new Dark Age, not every Muslim wants to become a terrorist, not every teen drinks or has sex, and no person has the same opinion on everything.

Each individual is different. We sing different songs, enjoy different genres of  music, I may say football, you may say soccer, I may like roti or pepper-pot, you might love pumpkin pie. These  differences give us a “cook-up pot” full of flavour. They help us to create societies that are not  monotonous, not one-dimensional, but filled with colours, emotions, everything that makes life great.

**DISCLAIMER:- This was not meant to offend any particular individual or group of persons. It is simply my perspective.**

Kadeen Nichelle Oksana Waldron

April 15-18, 2012.

Thoughts On Faith

**This was not an article, but  a brief contemplation on something for church.**

Faith is the ability to believe. It is an action word, and a concept. Faith is the willingness to hold firm to an idea, to a belief, even if logically and scientifically it cannot be proven. Faith in action, is performing the task to the best that you can. Full completion. Wholeheartedly working on your end of a deal. Why? Because we have the faith, the belief, that someone else will also do his/her best to make the deal successful. Without this faith, there can be no success.

An excellent example is our faith in modern medicine to cure our illnesses. This is because no cure will be 100% successful without the patient’s faith in its strength, and the patient’s belief in the doctor.

The same way with our faith in God. Nothing can be done by Him, FOR us, unless we truly believe in Him (please note I’m not saying that He will let you suffer, but that for the best effects, faith is necessary)*. This is why it’s important to accept and believe Christ‘s resurrection before we can proclaim ourselves Christians. This is also why we can do nothing without God’s blessings (note, I am not saying that He will literally come down and dump your thesis in a pile of water, or send a massive virus to screw up your hard drive. I’m saying that God allows certain things to happen, but that His interference makes the outcome even better)*.

Work without faith is useless. A fact that is made quite evident in so many well-known Bible stories. In particular, one incident among Jesus’ disciples.The disciples had seen Jesus casting demons out of various persons. Without fully understanding that faith in God was the key, they also tried to perform this miracle. The consequences were embarrassing and scary. These proclaimed men of God were mocked, and beaten by the demons. This was due to both their pride, and their lack of adequate faith in the power of God. Their faith resided in their own abilities only, and human abilities can never compare to the omnipotence of God.

On the other extreme, we have Jairus‘ story. His daughter was sick to the point of death. In fact, she did die. However, Christ resurrected her because of Jairus’ faith, that is, his willingness to believe that Jesus could heal her, dead or alive. Or how about the centurion whose servant was sick. This man, who had only heard of the wonders performed by Jesus, rushed to meet this Christ-person. He, who probably worshipped all those idols that were the focus of the Roman Empire, came before a Jewish carpenter that proclaimed the Jewish Yahweh. His simple request from Jesus to heal his dying servant, was met with a profound exchange of words, that left all in the audience pondering. Then without finesse, Jesus told the centurion that his servant was healed. His servant who was nowhere near them. How? The centurion’s faith in Christ’s ability.This centurion had no way of knowing before he got home, whether or not Jesus had healed his servant; yet he and Jairus exhibited faith in Christ’s power to provide healing for the people they cared about.

Perhaps, one of the best examples of faith in action, will forever remain “the woman with the issue of blood”. She bled for 12 years. Can you imagine bleeding for 12 long years? For those of us who experience a period, even one day feels like too much. The thought of bleeding everyday, for 12 years would make us go insane! All the physicians she met were unable to help her. Then she heard of Jesus. Just from hearing what He had done for others, she developed the belief/faith that Jesus could heal her. The crowd was thick. The streets were packed. People were pressing closer to Him from all sides. Jesus was completely surrounded by disciples, well-wishers, curious spectators, and the usual haters. She knew there was no way for Him to touch her. She was so close, yet it felt like a distance of miles. Then, another option popped into her mind. She decided that all she would need to do was touch the EDGE of His clothing. THAT was her belief. Her faith convinced her, that something many of us would consider simple and pointless, WOULD have power. Now that is FAITH.

Kadeen Nichelle Oksana Waldron

January 28, 2012.

*some adjustments were made March 9, 2012.