Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘girl’

They Live in the Sea

CryOfTheSeaCry of the Sea by D. G. Driver
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

I don’t usually use personal pronouns in a review, but I love this book. With little preamble, I was running along the beach with Juniper Sawfeather, and her American Indian father, Peter, as they document an oil spill on there local beach. What they discover is surreal, and fighting for every breath. After making sure they aren’t seeing things, they try to save the mermaids.

One of the wonderful things about this tale is that it is completely believable. When 17-year-old June (Juniper) describes the mermaids, you can see them before your eyes. Unlike Disney versions, these creatures are silver-scaled, have gills, webbed hands, bald heads, and tails. Somewhat like a seal, but with human-like arms, hands, and eyes. It seems reasonable that they could have evolved without ever having been caught before, thus the countless stories, fables and history surrounding mermaids.

It turns out that June’s father is the head of an emergency environmental organization, and her mother, Natalie, is an environmental lawyer. Over the next few days, the mermaids existence becomes public, with resulting dismissals, and believers. A large oil company, Affron, hijacks the remaining mermaid from the marine mammal rescue center June and her father have taken it to. Over the next few days all hell breaks loose, within there family, community, internet, and national news.

Cry of the Sea never lags, or stops for a breather. It is a splendid ride exploring friendship, family dynamics, teen friendships, first romance, earth concerns, ethics, and public opinion. If either of the other two books in Ms. Driver’s series (Whisper of the Woods, Echoes of the Cliffs) are half as good as this one , they should be read immediately.

 

Coming Into Her Own

The Buddha of Lightning Peak: Cycle of the Sky
By Yudron Wangmo
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

A lot of authors, agents and publishers say their story is “unique”, but rarely does the tale turn out to be that different or “special”. The Buddha of Lightning Peak is an exception. The characters in the story are like many people I know, and experiences they have lived, but I’ve never read something that combined them all into one tight, believable and well-crafted novel such as this.

Denise “Dee” is a teenager who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also black, lesbian and part of a meditation group. She has a variety of friends, including Leslie and her BFF, Shanti, as well as her mentor/teacher, Sandy. She isn’t a strong environmental advocate, until she learns of a mining operation about to start up next to her beloved summer camp and mountain.

The author reveals life through Dee’s eyes and perspective, and reveals the thoughts, emotions and experiences that many teens go through, especially teenage girls. The Buddha of Lightning Peak is an insightful and entertaining story that reveals Dee coming into her own strength, realizations, and sense of connection and community. I rarely read stories twice, even good ones. This will be the exception.

(The author provided me with a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.)

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Cinderella’s Question

From the wily Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

Master Tarantino Toshiba always believed in equality and freedom for all. She freely taught to one and all — young, old, men, women, children, smart, stupid, rich, poor, and even the middle-class. There was a little girl named Cinderella who had been taken in at the monastery after her parents had died. By the time she was of age, she started noticing that all the nuns would visit their master daily for a private session. She was told that these sessions were called nodzen and were designed for each student to be given a special koan (or mind problem) for them to solve and reach enlightenment. Cinderella said she “reeeeally” wanted to participate in nodzen as well, and asked for permission to do so. She was now of age, so her Master could not refuse.

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Cinderella approached Master Tarantino Toshiba’s room the next morning and banged loudly on the door (as she had been instructed). She was invited in and asked to squat in the middle of the room.

“Tell me,” asked the Abbess. “Why are you here?”

“I have come to receive my koan Master.”

“Why are you here?”

“Because I want to be enlightened and find peace.”

“Why are you here?”

“I told you before,” Cinderella replied, somewhat annoyed. “I’m here…”

“Why . . . are . . . you . . . here?”

“How many times do I have to say it? I’m . . .”

“Stop!” exclaimed The Master. “This IS your koan. Why are you here? Not here in this room, but here on the planet. Why are you alive? What’s your purpose? What does it all mean? Why are you here?”

Cinderella rolled her eyes. “Oh. Now I see.”

“Not sure about that,” the Abbess whispered quietly.

“Thank you,” Cinderella said. She stood and bowed several times and then departed.

Cinderella pondered her koan deeply night and day. She watched the water in the stream flowing by and contemplated upon its existence. When her time for nodzen was upon her the following week, she entered The Master’s room with great excitement, certain that she’d solved the problem.

“Why are you here?” asked the Abbess.

“My existence is temporary. Like water, we come and go.”

“That is not the question. Yes, we are all transient, but why are we here?”

Making sure to avoid water the following week (and getting quite smelly as a result), Cinderella sat in the town square and watched and listened to the people living their lives. One afternoon, after seeing a farmer receive some turmeric in exchange for her chicken’s eggs, she knew she had discovered life’s purpose. She could hardly wait until it was her turn to visit the Abbess.

“I am here . . . we are all here,” Cinderella bubbled, when she next saw The Master, “to share what we have and help one another with what we need.”

The Master rolled her eyes and then smiled. “You think you’re hot, but you’re getting colder by the minute. The tinniest forms of life make exchanges for their existence, but why are they here? Why are you here?”

Cinderella was crestfallen. She had been certain that she’d had the answer. The following week she spent in isolation in a dark cave. There was no water or people to disturb her meditation. In the darkness, her sense of hearing was amplified. She became aware of her breath as it moved in and out. After hours of sitting it seemed as if the air going in and out of her lungs was a title wave of energy and her body a receptacle of its life force. Upon this discovery, she made her way out of the cave (after running into a few walls) and went straight to see The Master without waiting for her appointment. She pounded loudly on the door, entered, and called out.

“Master! Master!” Master Toshiba stepped aside just in time, as the door swung her way. “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!”

Master Toshiba stepped out from behind the door.

Cinderella looked around. “Oh, there you are. Master, I’ve got it!”

“I was just going out for some fresh air,” Master Toshiba replied. “Come with me.” Cinderella followed like an adoring puppy. “What is it you think you have?”

“Why I’m here. Why we’re here.”

“And why is that?”

“Because energy cannot exist in a vacuum. We are all interdependent.”

The Master stopped, put her hand on Cinderella’s shoulder and calmly said, “This is true, but you still do not understand why you are here.”

“Help me. I don’t know what to do.”

“Go,” the Abbott replied. “Go help yourself and don’t come back until you can answer the question.”

Cinderella’s head dropped and she started crying. “I give up.”

“That’s not why we are here, to give up.”

Four months later, while reading a children’s story, Cinderella asked, for the millionth time, why she was here. She realized that she would never know the answer and decided to tell the Abbess.

“There are so many stories Mistress and none of them can tell us why we are here or what our purpose is. I will never be able to answer your question. I’ll just live my life and do what I have to do to get by. I don’t need to know why in order to live.”

Mistress Toshiba smiled and kissed Cinderella on the forehead. “My dear little pumpkin. You got it.”

More questions at: Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

What A Day For A Daydream

586613838e010d433bacb209ce65ea56c69e859e-thumbAn excerpt from the hot and cold Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

A mother of one of Mistress Tova’s students missed her daughter and came to see what she was learning at the monastery. She found her daughter sleeping in the large bedroom she shared with ten other students who were also asleep. Quietly, she approached her daughter and gently shook her shoulder. Turning over slowly and rubbing her eyes, the girl awoke to see her mother sitting on her cot.

“Mother,” the girl whispered. “What a wonderful surprise.”

“I’ve missed you so much,” her mother replied. They embraced. “Are you eating okay? How’s your health?”

“Shhh,” the girl whispered to her mother. “I’m fine, but can’t you see we’re meditating?”

“Meditating?” The mother looked around at all the sleeping students. “You’re all napping. It’s the middle of the day.”

“It may look that way Mom, but we are in deep meditation.” Several snores arose above their whispers.

“When we’ll you be done, so we can visit?” her mother asked.

The girl looked outside to gauge the sun. “Another four or five hours, not much longer.”

“You’re going to sleep your entire day away.”

“Oh no, Mom,” the daughter said, her eyes shining brightly. “Mistress Tova says that it is best to sleep in, take long naps, and relax as often as possible, day or night. She says that it wakes us up to the reality of what is real.”

“You’re kidding?” Her mother said.

“Kidding? I’m not a kid Mom.”

Her mother rolled her eyes. “You left home to live like a sloth and sleep all day?”

“It’s not like that. You don’t understand. Mistress Tova says this is the surest path to enlightenment.”

“Then Mistress Tova is . . . never mind.” She kissed her daughter on the cheek, and stood. “Let me know when you’re done. I’ll be outside. I think we need to talk.”

More devious koans, stories, & tales, at Zen Master Tova Tarantino Toshiba: The Illustrious and Delusional Abbess of Satire.

No Means No – Not “I do.”

W1403EAWMN1This month, lawmakers in Mozambique will debate revisions to the Criminal Code that would allow a rapist to escape punishment – by marrying the woman he attacked.

No means no – not “I do.” It forces survivors to endure the unthinkable.

If you were a woman or girl in Mozambique, not only could this law greatly increase social pressure to marry your rapist, it would actually prevent police from launching an investigation unless you (or a parent or guardian if you are a minor) made an official complaint.

It’s a gross violation of women’s rights.

Shine a light on this draconian bill and help Amnesty stop it before it becomes law.

Morocco had a law like this. It was repealed in January.

Why? How?

Because of outrage over the case of Amina Filali. She was forced to marry a man whom she said had raped her. In 2012, Amina lost all hope and swallowed rat poison and died shortly afterward.

She was just 16 years old.

When we raise our voices together, we can make a difference. Raise a furor over this bill – take action with Amnesty.

Thank you for standing with women and girls in Mozambique.

In solidarity,

Cristina M. Finch
Managing Director, Women’s Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

Children In Peru

Our Recent Visit to Peru,

Antonio, on the left is six years old and has Down Syndrome. I met him and his mom three years ago when he began attending our rehabilitation center in Chincha. Antonio was three then and delayed in walking. Thanks to the aide of the centers therapists I then saw his early steps. It has been a pleasure for me to witness several other children with much more severe motor problems accomplish what seemed to be an unsurmountable feat. One of these children was Maria Pilar, who had cerebral palsy and this visit it was a young boy named Eddy. Eddy was born with a deformed urinary tract and has undergone several surgeries. He also had motor and balance problems. I was pleased to be able to video Eddy as he held his arms out to balance and walked across the room for US! Thank you for the hand up, that made this possible!

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Cory
Building for Generations

Eve Ensler – Personal Is Global

A brief review of another intimate and vital work by Eve Ensler.

In the Body of the World
by Eve Ensler. Metropolitan.
Reviewed on 3/11/2013 Publisher’s Weekly

In this extraordinarily riveting, graphic story of survival, Ensler, an accomplished playwright (The Vagina Monologues) and activist in international groups such as V-Day, which works to end violence against women, depicts her shattering battle with uterine cancer. Having felt estranged from her body for a lifetime, and 9780805095180been molested as a girl by her father and enthralled by alcohol and promiscuity early on, Ensler as a playwright was seized with a political awareness of the dire violence committed against women across the globe. At the age of 57, she was blindsided when she discovered that her own health emergency mimicked the ones that women were enduring in the developing countries she had visited: “the cancer of cruelty, the cancer of greed… the cancer of buried trauma.” Her narrative, she writes, is like a CAT scan, “a roving examination—capturing images,” recording in minute, raw detail the ordeals she underwent over seven months. These include her crazed, “hysterical” response to the diagnosis and her treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as well as extensive surgery, chemo, radiation, and caring by a “posse” of companions in misery, like her estranged sister, Lu, and far-flung friends such as Mama C, the head of the City of Joy women’s center in the Congo.

Read entire review and others at Publisher’s Weekly.

Eve Ensler’s other books include:

Necessary Targets: A Story of Women and War
Insecure at Last: Losing It in Our Security-Obsessed World
Vagina Warriors
The Vagina Monologues
I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World

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