Posts Tagged ‘superheroes’

Heart, Wonder(Woman), & Stained Glass Mandalas, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2009, all photos © 2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

It’s that awkward time between end-of-December Holidays and the New Year. And 2009 was a hard year for many. I personally know people who were (and are) unemployed, those who have lost much of their life savings due to illness and no health insurance, a family with a loved one who died unexpectedly in her 30’s from an enlarged heart. They checked on her when she didn’t show up at the family Christmas party; the funeral was Christmas Eve.

But I also saw a heartwarming story where a man in Youngstown, Ohio named Jason Evans donated a kidney to Kimberly Smith, a 58-year-old woman who has raised 28 foster and adopted children, and a stranger to him, so that she could live. (He heard the call at a church service; she calls the kidney LJ for Little Jason.) And a segment on a woman named Jennifer Williams who gives back to women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have been raped, tortured and mutilated in the Congolese civil war, by encouraging sponsors to pledge $27 a month and write letters in an exchange that transforms both women’s lives. Lisa Shannon, founder of Run for Congo Women, has a personal mission to sponsor 1000 Congolese women.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Was it something you really wanted as a child? Was it handmade, a piece of art or jewelry, a family recipe box, dinner with friends? Did it cost money or was it a gift from the heart? We didn’t have a lot of presents under the tree this year but life feels abundant. We and our cats Kiev and Mr. Stripeypants have our health (Chaco died mid-year); there was good food on the table, Christmas ham and Grandma Caroline’s Green Salad; the Wonder Woman stocking stuffer (made by Magnet Dude) and Mandalas Stained Glass Coloring Book brought big smiles to my face.

Liz’s sister has a tradition of sending her a rock from Heart Mountain in Wyoming each time her mother visits or another Holiday rolls around. We have bits of the Heart all over our garden and yard. Each time Liz opens a new heart, her face is filled with wonder. There are cards that line the bookcase, some with checks or gift certificates, not to mention the pajamas and slippers from a pre-Christmas sale. Life feels abundant.

Maybe the greatest Christmas gift was watching a family from up the street (who we had never met) stroll through the neighborhood with their snowblower, digging out driveways from the Holiday blizzard. How neighbors joined in and walked along with them, helping the next neighbor dig out.

Or the young sister/brother team who knocked on our door Christmas Eve and offered to snowblow the driveway for $10. They came from a blended family of 7 kids and were trying to earn a little extra money. These are the gifts that keep on giving.

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Yes, I’m a firstborn. With all the flaws, rights, privileges, and responsibilities that go with being a firstborn. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Hmmm. JFK? No, it was Peter Benjamin Parker. Spider-Man.

Maybe it should read, “With great responsibility comes great power.” Either way, there is an ethical piece, a balance between burden and privilege.

Firstborns can be overly responsible. And bossy. We’re also always looking out for others, and imagining the worst possible scenario. There are two reasons for this: 1) so that we’ve thought about how to handle the worst case when it comes along (and won’t be standing there humiliated); 2) we genuinely care about the fate of those around us (and we’ve been trained, from toddler age on, to take care of others).

A few months ago, I was at a poetry reading at my friend, Teri’s. A whole group of us were gathered in her living room, chatting and drinking tea. Two of us, decades apart in age, were firstborns. Late into the evening, someone leaned back in a rocking chair that was bumping against a standing brass lamp. It started to wobble and tip.

My eyes darted to the light. I noticed it right away. I had the thought, “I should go over and upright that lamp. It’s going to fall.”

I didn’t even get the chance. Within seconds, the other firstborn calmly walked over, grabbed the light, settled it into place, slid back to her seat, and didn’t miss a beat in the ensuing conversation. I simply beamed. Slick. I felt a solid kinship with the Lamp-Saver. Silent Superhero.

Later, I joked about it with the group, mentioning how both firstborns had spotted the lamp’s potential plunge to the floor, and rushed to save the day. Everyone else said, “What? What are you talking about? A lamp almost fell over?” No one else even noticed.

Firstborns operate behind the scenes, making sure things run smoothly. Unlike only borns, we sometimes don’t take the credit we are due. Flaw? Or humility.

Firstborns have a reputation for being valuable. Many 50’s families wanted their firstborn to be male. If they ended up with a female, well, you got names like Earline or Fredericka or Andrewzilla (just ask oliverowl). Isn’t there a story in the Bible where a faithful believer was asked to sacrifice his firstborn son? Maybe it was Isaac and Abraham. Or was it Ishmael? It depends on which religion. And I’m not good at names.

I do remember being a young kid and reading a thick tan Bible Story book, handed down to my by my Aunt Cassie. I recently ran into it in a box of memorabilia. It rekindled a fading image of me as a child, rocking in my bedroom, reading Bible Stories out loud to myself.

I don’t remember the names. But the concepts made an impression. Turn the other cheek. Give unto others. And you don’t really have to sacrifice your firstborn — setting an intention is enough to show your faith. The Bible is about stories and parables. We don’t have to cling to every literal word to live a spiritual life. Still, that story of sacrifice scared me.

My mother is a middle-born child. But her oldest brother died when she was a teenager, a few months before I was born. He drowned over the July 4th weekend, while swimming at Clark’s Hill Dam. He had been sick with something like pneumonia, too weak to make the shore. He was only 18. No one expected it. After that, my mother became an oldest child.

Last June, when Mom and I visited my Aunt Annette for the first time in 50 years, we talked about the drowning. She remembered it. And when Mom and I visited her brother’s grave, I asked if everyone was still sad a few weeks later when I was born. Were they still grieving?

She looked at me gently, surprised at the question. Then, without hesitation, she said, “No, Honey, everyone was so happy when you were born. You were a bundle of joy.” Firstborns worry about these things. (Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!)

What I have noticed over the last week, as I’ve been thinking about this Writing Topic, is that in my relationships, I have been attracted to responsible middle-borns. What is a responsible middle-born? One who is independent like a firstborn, but has a middle-born carefree Tiggerness. They like to have fun.

This has been a consistent theme in my relationships. I have not been with an oldest child. Or a youngest child. Only responsible, free-spirited middle children. And usually with women younger than I am, anywhere from a few years, up to a decade.

And when I ask them about their relationships, they tell me they’ve always been attracted to those who are older then they are. I didn’t ask them about the firstborn part. All I know is middle-borns keep me feeling young.

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, May 8th, 2008

-related to Topic post, WRITING TOPIC – BIRTH ORDER

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Wonder Woman Headgear - from ComicBloc.comI got a short, one page letter in the mail on Wonder Woman stationery from someone in last year’s Taos writing Intensive that inspired me to scour the world for Wonder Woman quotes.

It made me wonder if they actually remembered that writing practice I read about carrying the Golden Lasso of Truth through Missoula, Montana on Halloween, 1975, dressed in powder blue, unribbed long underwear, navy wrist bracelets, a fire red breast plate, and yellow domed headgear.

Or do they just love Wonder Woman as much as I do?

Here are the best quotes I found from DC comic books and the 1975 television series The New Original Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter. I also found The Wonder Woman Pages to be an incredible archive of information.

I’m reminded that TV, screen, and comic book scribes are writers, too.


[Oh, wait, that was Fried Green Tomatoes, one of my favorite films of all time. And, yes, I’ve even eaten them!]


“This is the Golden Lasso. Besides being made from an indestructible material, it also carries with it the power to compel people to tell the truth. Use it well, and with compassion.” – Queen Hippolyte (played by Cloris Leachman)

“Go in peace my daughter. And remember that, in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a Wonder Woman.” Queen Hippolyte

“Please take my hand. I give it to you as a gesture of friendship and love, and of faith freely given. I give you my hand and welcome you into my dream.” -Wonder Woman #167

“If it means interfering in an ensconced, outdated system, to help just one woman, man or child…I’m willing to accept the consequences.” -Wonder Woman #170

“What was it that John Lennon said? ‘Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.’ Let it grow already, and quit trying to legislate it!”  -Wonder Woman #200

“Of all people, you know who I am…who the world needs me to be. I’m Wonder Woman.” -Infinite Crisis #1


And, finally, my personal favorite:

” A new journey to be started.
A new promise to be fulfilled.
A new page to be written.
Go forth unto this waiting world with pen in hand, all you young scribes,
the open book awaits.
Be creative.
Be adventurous.
Be original.
And above all else, b
e young.
For youth is your greatest weapon, your greatest tool.
Use it wisely.”

–Wonder Woman # 62 by George Perez
the scene where Vanessa Kapatelis graduates and Diana is hugging her

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

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