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Archive for April, 2009

tina turnerI am a warrior.  Er, actually, I’m a pilgrim on the way to becoming a warrior.  In the recent past, life has been an ongoing search for truth, for self, for some greater purpose to commit myself to.  People, jobs, even cities have come and gone, but I have moved forward with the conviction that the route leads toward a life rich with meaning and existential bliss. 

 

 And now, I am on the warrior’s path.  After having found the purpose and the people to devote myself, I will find the courage to fight, even my own worst fears, to keep safe that which I hold dear. 

 

 If this all sounds like a load of pseudo-spirituality hooey, it ain’t.  Not one to buy into the latest new-age fad, I come to these concepts with the most skeptical of eyes.  But while reading The Six Archetypes of Love by Dr. Allan Hunter, I couldn’t help but find truth in his theories.  And not just because I get to be a Warrior. 

 

Thus, I was elated when Dr. Hunter agreed to be a guest on the April Man Panel.  The goal of the evening was to distinguish between the six archetypes and discover how to bring love into our lives within the paradigm.  The discussion was filled with lots of philosophical questioning but came down to this: love, like life, is a journey of the soul.

 

The Innocent starts things off with her idealism, as new love infuses her with a sense of hope and possibility. The Orphan, desperate to “belong,” will settle for anything and anyone, as long as she’s attached.  Next, the Pilgrim strikes out on her own, searching for the right life path and partner on which to stake a claim.  In love, pilgrims aren’t looking for someone to complete them, but someone with whom they can evolve.

 

The Pilgrim becomes the Warrior when she’s found both her path and the courage to follow it.  This is the moment of commitment.  The Monarch emerges when the lover finds herself in a committed partnership based on trust, loyalty and combined efforts.  Finally, the Magician transcends all of this by focusing her love on humanity.

 

Think Princess Diana, as Dr. Hunter asked us to think.  Nineteen, a virgin, she falls in love with Prince Charming.  Innocent as they come.  She marries the dude then suppresses her identity to “belong” to the royal family and meet the world’s expectations.  Orphan like nobody’s business.

 

Marriage blows, Prince cheats on her and the princess role she’s supposed to fill doesn’t fit.  So she kicks the chump to the curb, takes lovers and becomes the Pilgrim on a search for self.  Diana became a Warrior when she devoted her time to charity and a Monarch when she started non-profits to carry out her work.  As a Magician, her legacy lives on after her death.

 

Though Princess Diana helped make the archetypes clearer, confusion still lingered at the panel. 

  

“Fine, I’m a Pilgrim,” one audience member asked.  “So, who should I date?”

 

Unfortunately, love isn’t that straighforward.  Our culture tries so hard to simplify our lives, emotions and identities that we really believe beings as complicated as humans can be reduced to easily manipulated categories.  The archetypes simply demonstrate the possibilities in life and love, and challenge us to make the most out of existence.  But the types are fluid.  You could be an Orphan in relationships but a Monarch at work.  One day, you’re a Warrior until someone comments on your fat ass and you’re a whiny Orphan all over again. 

 

So, who should you go after?  The person who scares you, said Dr. Hunter.  Someone who makes you feel at ease may be lovely, but he or she may not help you grow.  And isn’t life about growth?  Leaving the planet a different person than when you arrived?  The situations and people who put us on edge are the ones we probably need to evolve.  The point of existence should not be to find a job and a person to stick a fork into and say, “I’m done.”  The point should be to become a more interesting person, lover and resident of the planet. So perhaps we should always move toward what scares us.  Unless, of course, it’s wielding a knife.  Or it’s a spider. 

 

Personally, I look forward to embarking on the Warrior’s path.  But I won’t be one of those war-mongering types.  I plan to be one of those peaceful warriors who show courage in the face of challenge.

 

Though I do hope they give me a cool sword. 

 

 

*Thanks to Allan Hunter.  Check out Dr. Hunter and his book at http://allanhunter.net/about-the-archetypes/

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nicknameMy friends and I have recently noticed most of the men in our lives are nameless.  Undoubtedly, they have names, we just refuse to use them.  Melissa’s current crush we call Mr. Arm Toucher because their romance thus far consists mainly of his touching her arm when they pass in the cafeteria at work.  Janine’s last couple dates were with Annoying Tea Sipper, while I keep complaining about running into The Lip Smacker on the street. 

 

What a hoot it’s been to find the most salient feature of our love interests’ characters and slap on a nickname.  “How’s Expensive Watch Collection?”  We’ll ask each other.  “Any word from Drinks Milk With Straw?”

 

But then our friend Kim had to ruin it all when she started dating a man she called Doug.

 

“What, like Dig Dug?”  Melissa asked.  “I loved that video game.”

 

“Or like Dug a Hole?”  Janine asked.  “Is he a ditch digger?”

 

“No,” Kim said, sanctimoniously.  “Doug, as in his name is Doug.  Grow up, will you?”

 

Seeing as how Melissa had just ended things with Quotes ‘80s Lyrics, and Janine was awaiting a call from The Peruvian, this whole first-name-basis thing was not computing.

 

Kim was being a bit persnickety, but she did have a point.  The women I know in relationships are in them with men named Dave, Shawn or the occasional Phillip.  Most single women I know are in and out of flings with guys called Anchorman Haircut or The Rash.  Single gals like to tell themselves nicknames help distinguish between the endless succession of suitors coming through their doors.  But the truth is we’re all just afraid of death.

 

Not literal death.  I’m talking about the tiny deaths a single woman suffers each time some potentially fabulous fellow strolls into her life only to be escorted back out by some powerful external force – his hang-ups, his lack of interest, his wife.  What dies is the dream our fair lady has already woven around her suitor, the spot in her heart which houses a place that great lover of the twentieth century Bill Clinton once called…hope.

 

Single women who have been solo long enough fight a constant battle against the belief that their romantic circumstances are unalterable.  Nowadays, potential mates come and go so quickly, most women are near militaristic in their attempts to stay on their guard.  Why get attached to someone you know won’t stick around?  So single women do what farmer kids do when they get a new goat: call it The Goat.  Name it, and you’re toast come slaughter time.

 

Kim claimed to be calling Doug by his real name because she didn’t want to be reminded of the ridiculousness of her previous choices.  To her, a quick perusal of the nicknames given her conquests – The Hot DJ, The Hot Bartender, The Hot 22-year old – made clear why she was still single.  The only salient feature she could come up with to describe Doug was Just Plain Awesome, which was the reason she wanted to let down her guard and give the guy a chance. 

 

Referring to a crush by name feels like a risk, like a commitment.  We’re committing to officially wanting the guy and putting our trust in love and in our chances of actually getting it.  Naming a crush is an act of faith.  Dag nab it, we’re saying, I wanna believe in this one.

 

Of course, if it doesn’t work out, a gal can always go back to calling her crush by his obvious nickname: Please Don’t Break My Heart.

 

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bride-and-groom1This week, my friend Adam got an ultimatum from his girl: marry me or I’m out.  I’m on Adam’s side on this one and not just because he’s my friend.  Adam isn’t ready.  After years of navigating the peaks and valleys of romance, I finally get what this means.

 

“I’m not ready.”  One of the most mystifying sentences in the English language.  If you’re about to jump out of an airplane with a busted parachute, or you’re a scallop that hasn’t been cooked all the way through, then by all means, you’re not ready.  But not ready for love?  Not ready for the comforting bonds of relationship?  What kind of horse poo is that? 

 

For most women, love is not something which requires preparedness.  Love pours down from the heavens out of the blue, nullifying anything else in life that holds meaning and merging the lovers in the highest state of existential bliss, of which a committed relationship is the ultimate expression.  Who wouldn’t want this? 

 

But guys have to be “ready.”  I finally understood this last year, when Matt the Moody Chef hit me with an unexpected “I’m Not Ready” after a prolonged period of becoming intimately enmeshed.

 

“Relationships don’t work out for me,” he said the night of our romantic demise.  “This is too intense.  I can’t do it right now.”

 

Later, after chugging an entire bottle of Chianti, I got to thinking.  Matt had signed his divorce papers less than six months before we met.  His apartment was a barren crypt, stripped by his ex-wife of any furnishing that might make it seem like a home.  Entering into another relationship then would’ve been like sticking his tongue back on an icy flag pole ten seconds after he’d yanked it off.

 

A few months after separating from my own ex, I dated a sexy lawyer who in every way was a super catch.  But once he started asking how my day had been and stroking my cheek, I recoiled as if he were a slobbering bulldog licking my face.  A relationship was not something I could handle.  I needed to heal, needed space, needed my life to become mine again after giving it over to the entity that was my marriage. 

 

I wasn’t ready.

 

Indeed, love comes whether we have braced ourselves for it or not.  But commitment offers a choice, tapping us on the shoulder to say, “sorry to bother you.  Is this a good time?” 

 

Adam has never been married but wants to be one day.  And he loves his gal.  But his finances are in the crapper, his job is shit, life isn’t matching up with his goals and he just wants to flush the whole thing.  Wherever he ends up, Adam wants this woman there with him.  He’s just not sure where “there” is. 

 

We gals always make men the nucleus around which the rest of our lives float.  But a man wants to invite a woman into a life that has already been made whole without her, perhaps even, in anticipation of her arrival.  “I’m not ready” doesn’t always mean, “I’m not ready to stop chasing tail and playing beer pong with my buddies.”  Often it means, “this table has not yet been set for two.”

 

And sometimes it means bigger questions are being asked.  Am I ready to drop my defenses and let this other person see me warts and all?  To feel so profoundly concerned about someone else’s well-being and allow this person’s presence to become necessary to my happiness?  To surrender to love and risk losing it?  

 

While Adam considers this ultimatum, I hope his girlfriend sees how his mulling it over demonstrates the depth of his feelings.  I hope she understands she’s not only asking for a wedding ceremony, she’s asking for a lifetime.  And mostly, I hope she doesn’t push.  Like jumping out of an airplane or eating seafood, if you act before the time is right, you’re only going to puke. 

 

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“Hello, my name is Katarina and I am a model from the Czech Republic.  One day, I hope to become a supermodel, so that I can inspire little girls and have the admiration of all the world.  As you can see from the photo above, I am well on my way! 

 

My story is similar to many models.  One day, I was with friends in a discotheque in Prague when a man came to me and asked, ‘would you like to come to America?  You are so beautiful, I can make you rich and famous.’  Wowwee, I was excited!  In my home country, I was a student of biology and my dream was to become a doctor who can cure cancer because my grandmother had the illness.  But as you can see, my life as a model is much more rewarding.

 

When I first came to New York, I was frightened because the city is very big.  But soon, I had my first job making the photographs you see here for the March edition of Details magazine.  My photos were made to show men the pretty accessories they can buy. 

 

First, the photographer told me I must take off my clothes.  This made me very nervous because I am a shy person and my mother always said my body was only to be shared with a man who will cherish it like a jewel.

 

The photographer was angry with my shyness.  ‘You think you have something we haven’t seen before?’  He asked.

 

Of course, this was true.  Of course, there is nothing special about my body.  Oh, I felt very silly!  Also I want to be a famous model so I can be important to people and happy like Naomi Campbell.  And so, I removed my clothes. 

 

Next, the photographer asked me to go to my hands and knees on the floor.  Then several men began to pile shoes, bags and watches on different parts of my body.  At first, this made me feel like a mule, especially because the men were not very gentle.  But when the photographer began to take photographs, I was happy again.  Now, I was a real model!  I looked at the photographer and smiled.

 

‘Don’t show us your face,’ he said.  ‘That makes you seem human.  And don’t think about anything either.  It gives you too much character.’ 

 

For me, it was difficult not to think as I know many things because I have an education and many experiences in my life.  Also, I was missing my family very much and thinking of my baby sister who would be so happy to see me for the first time in an American magazine.    

 

‘But I am a person,’ I told him.  ‘How can a person feel or think nothing?’

 

‘Today, you’re not a person,’ the photographer said.  ‘Today, you’re a coffee table.’

 

Finally, the session was finished and I thanked the photographer for giving me this great opportunity. 

 

When the photographs came out, my mother was not happy at all because she is a feministic person.

 

‘Katarina,’ she said.  ‘Your father and I fought in our country for all men and women to be free of everything that steals their power and dignity.  And for what?  So you can take photographs with a man’s shoe up your hooha?’

 

My poor mother.  She does not understand what it means to have dreams.

 

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My next assignment will be in a photo spread for men’s cosmetics.  They will pour shaving cream and shampoo all over my body as if I was a sundae in an ice cream shop.  They even say there will be something called a ‘money shot’ with body lotion sprayed on my chin.  How fantastic that there is a special photograph in which you can receive extra money! 

 

My mother begs me from Prague to come home so that I do not continue to lose my ‘dignity.’  But really, who needs dignity when you are so beautiful?”

 

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