Monday, June 27, 2016

Marschallin Monday: Swooning Edition

So yes, I've posted this photo before, and I do so again with good reason!

Guess who has tickets to this production, the day before her birthday, 2017?  That would be ME.  Saved up some birthday money (my parents are amazing and are now responsible for me seeing Renee Fleming live, singing Strauss, TWICE) and I'm SO EXCITED.  This will also be our first Met experience.  I'll just be here swooning from now until then.  So excited.  SO EXCITED.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Marschallin Monday: Farmyard Edition

It's not all about the fancy gowns, you know.  I love a Marschallin who's willing to get her hands dirty.

 The only thing that would make this better would be if it were goats instead of cows.  What better way to ease the heartache of stupid choices of young Octavians?

Thursday, June 16, 2016



Friends, I'm really proud to introduce to you my new website, FierceRev Remedies, where I'll be writing about herbalism, freedom movement work, and where those intersect for me.  This is an outgrowth of my vocational journey these last couple of years, including herbal studies, deepening pastoral justice work, farmwork, vocational discernment, and the project of healing and reclaiming my voice.

My first post is about my first herbal love.

I’ve been drinking herbal  infusion teas almost every day since then, and have felt the herbs’ slow, deep, transformational work in my being.  But Rose was the first, the first to teach me that the herbs so want to help us heal, help us be fierce for the work of liberation, help us love on this earth and its creatures and each other.  Rose was the first who made me feel I might be a healer, along with being a pastor and an activist.
Towanda's Window isn't going anywhere!  (Although I may shift it to WordPress because Blogger is getting annoying). I'll still post more personal reflections (and white shirt fangirling!) here.

Maybe I'll write more about this sometime, but I went through a time where somebody worked *really* hard to silence my voice.  That person almost succeeded.  You can see that reflected in this blog by how my personal writing goes from fairly prolific to veryvery quiet, almost non-existent, as this person influenced my life (you can see that same prolific/outspoken to silent pattern in my personal Facebook posts as well).  Maybe you noticed, if you've been reading here a long time. 

Long story short:  thank God I walked away from that!  I'm so thankful for my cielo, my friends, my church, my healers, all of whom have walked through this with me and loved on me hard.  The journey to healing has been deep, and long, at least long as it feels to me, which I guess what I want to really say is that you don't just recover from that, heal from that overnight.  I've gradually come to write more here -- that tri-partite Carol posting was a huge step! -- and now this new website feels enormous and important as I continue to heal.

I have stuff to say, y'all.  And there is stuff that wants to be said through me.  So, thanks for being here, and I hope you'll join me at my other hangout too.  Peace.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Marschallin Monday: Ja Ja

I was trying to read a detailed synopsis with annotated thematic references (in this book) while flying to New Jersey today, which was amazingly fascinating (the reading, not the flying).  Until we hit nasty turbulence that made it impossible to do anything but try to breathe and not, well, you know.

So I breathed deeply, hummed overture/Act 1 opening scene themes in my head, because that's as far as I had gotten (which isn't really a bad place to pause...) and thought of this.

Travel messes with my perception of time (die Zeit, die ist ein Sonderbar ding...) and I think it's already Monday, even though it's late Sunday night, and so I'm posting this early.  At any rate I'm at a conference all week so what not have a little early Marschallin?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Marschallin Monday

Back again with Joyce DiDonato and her Marschallin, Anne Schwanewilms.  Joyce looks like she's having fun, no?

Turning Tables

Every time I hear this song I want to send it to the very ex-friend *who needed it most* the day I walked, but refrain because if I never see them again it would be too soon.  So there.

Next time, I'll be braver, I'll be my own savior (and already am).

(somewhere deep inside me, on good days, I hope this person is finding their way to healing. I do.  But this human place in me is just as real.)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Tierra de Olvido

This is beautiful. I was crying by the end.  Humans can be capable of such goodness, it can be hard to remember.  This helped me to remember.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Marschallin Monday

Though this one is really about the mezzo.  Also, again with the red. Also, exquisite white-shirt-ness.

Worth clicking on to enlarge.

Joyce Didonato as Octavian, Anne Schwanewilms as the Marschallin.  La Scala, 2011, via Joyce's Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Marschallin Monday on Tuesday

I was traveling yesterday, but the Marschallin is never far from my heart. Here are a few clips from the Met HD broadcast in 2010 that started it all for me.  Fleming, Graham, Schafer.

Giggling women in bed behind Placido, overture, and opening scene:

I remember so clearly:  Wait, what?  There are WOMEN IN BED TOGETHER ON MY SCREEN.  How is this happening?  Also:  Renee Fleming captures my heart.

Are there any men in this?  Don't care.

The infamous trio made me weep: 

How can anything be so beautiful, so full of yearning and grief and joy?

Also:  Marschallin, dearest, I'm happy to offer you some comfort.

And also:  I maintain that Octavian is a fool. #ChooseTheMarschallin

Monday, May 16, 2016

Marschallin Monday

My third Marschallin Monday post, and there seems to be a common theme arising:  RED.

Renee Fleming in red? Works for me.  Here's the end of that act (Act 1), which to me has to be one of the most exquisite things ever written:

And in looking for that, I discovered this new promo video for the upcoming Rosenkavalier at the Met in 2017.

I could do without the "it's tricky playing a woman playing a boy" trope but my I'm looking forward to this.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Marschallin Monday

A new feature here at the Window:  Marschallin Mondays! 

To wit:
Magdalena Kožená & Anja Harteros Photo: © Monika Rittershaus   
I am here all day for the Marschallin in red.

Photo from this post about the production.  Hunted for YouTube clips but came up empty.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Marschallin Monday

I went to see "Elektra" via the Met HD Broadcast on Saturday, which was SPECTACULARLY amazing.  Nina Stemme, Waltraud Meier, and Adrianne Pieczonka held me on the edge of my seat, wrenched in their anguish.  "OH MY GOODNESS," I exclaimed after the last note went silent.  I wasn't in alone, either.  That has to be one of the most astounding things I've ever experienced.

Um and also this, which popped up in the 2016-17 Season preview video that showed before the opera.  I also nearly came out of my seat, and texted my cielo immediately, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD.

Where is her other hand?

Fleming. Garanca. All the red.

I'm not sure my heart can take it.  Thankfully (or not?) I have a year to get ready.  Oh my.

Monday, April 18, 2016

On "Carol," Representation, and Whiteness - Part 3

Part 3 of 3.  Part 1, and Part 2.

When I say that “Carol” is incredibly white, I don’t mean (only) that there are only 3 whole entire people of color in it (a domestic worker, and a couple walking down the street). 

I mean, that this story can only exist within the realm and construct of whiteness.  That is to say, it is not a universal love story, as much as the cast and filmmakers and some reviewers want to think it so. 

What I mean is, you change the race of either or both of the two women, and you cannot tell this story.  If either or both of these women are Black, for example, you cannot tell this story.  You cannot tell this story of 2 women, one of them of massive and clearly inherited wealth (at least on her husband’s side), going road-tripping west on a whim and falling in love.  (The falling in love bit, sure, of course, that’s not what I’m talking about).

Somewhere around the 3rd time I saw “Carol,” I ran across this article about“Green Books,” guides of safe places for Black folk to eat, sleep, get gas, etc. while traveling across the US, and to avoid unsafe places including “sundown towns.”  The “Green Books” started in the 1930s, and were published through the 60s.  You can play around with the interactive map and discover, as I did, that in the early 50s, there were very few places to stay on a trip from New York to Chicago to Waterloo.  The article also mentions Indiana being full of “sundown towns.”

You kind of have to drive through Indiana to get to Chicago from New York, right?

1956.  Map a trip here.

Carol and Therese don’t have to think about this.  They don’t need “Green Books.”  They can just go.  Carol can even carry a gun and nobody is really going to think much about that.  So even though in one way – being queer – their freedom is impacted, in another way – being white – their freedom is privileged.  There is a freedom of movement, and a lack of worry about their movement, that would not be the same (and still is not) for Black folk.

This is one way I see whiteness functioning in the story.  I also wonder about the lack of people of color just on the streets of New York.  Surely New York was more diverse? Or is what we are seeing actually segregation of the time?  I wonder about my own desire, and how I was taught, via these same movies I love, what kind of woman is most desirable in the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy (because, let’s face it:  Jessica, Grace, Renée (opera but still), Cate…). 

And I think about how whiteness claims universality for itself, claims that white is the universal way to be human, the universal story – when in fact this is a very particular story about a very particular time that could only exist because of whiteness and wealth (which exists because of whiteness).  This is not a universal love story.

(And also, yes, it’s not a universal story in that it’s queer.  You can’t replace Carol and Therese with two straight people and have this be the same story. Nope. I get that, too, see that whole long section about representation.)

So as a white person, I’m uncomfortable with claims about “Carol” being a universal love story, that it’s “the movie we [lesbians] have all been waiting for.”  I was uncomfortable with efforts to rally a #CarolWasRobbed campaign or #OscarsSoStraight/Male because when it comes down to it, we may not get many exquisite queer stories told and celebrated, but at the end of the day, white people, and white stories, won their awards.  “Carol” could have (and should have!) won All.The.Things and still, white people would have won.

So I love “Carol” for the queer anti-patriarchy representation it offers, all the things I wrote about in Parts 1 and 2, AND I also hold it with an eye towards disrupting whiteness.  It’s all those things.   

Messy, and unresolved.

* * * * * * *

We need so many kinds of stories.  We SO need stories that don’t center cis white men.  “Carol” is a step that direction but not enough.  We need stories that center Black life – and not just slavery and suffering, but resistance and celebration and thriving. We need stories that center trans life (with trans characters being played by trans people, thank you). We need stories that center poor and working class folk, and undocumented folk, and Black and brown queers and stories that empower us and embolden us to disrupt and dismantle the white supremacistcapitalist heteropatriarchy, which tries to fool us into thinking there is only one, universal, white cis heteropatriarchal capitalist story – which is a lie.

I want all those stories.  We need all those stories.

In the movie’s canon, Therese works at The New York Times.  And neither of them are completely disconnected from what’s happening in the world – it’s just that in the window of time we see them, their world is reduced to each other, and Carol fighting for her daughter.  But there are hints that they are aware – the McCarthy hearings for example, news on the radio and TV.

In my headcanon, after where the book/movie story leaves us, Therese and Carol mostly live at Therese’s more working class neighborhood apartment. They talk about their class differences, and why they exist.  They aren’t easy conversations but they make it through. 

Then Therese comes home one day with news about the murder of Emmett Till.  Carol thinks about her own child, and something breaks open in her.  Children should be safe. Children should not be murdered, ever. When the Montgomery Bus Boycott begins to make the news, they send money.  Therese and Carol talk about what is happening in the freedom movement around the south, and how they can help.  They’re appalled at Orval Faubus, and the abuse of sit-in activists.  They keep sending money.

When the Freedom Rides begin in 1961, Carol and Therese talk about their own “freedom ride” of sorts back in 1952 and decide to drive the Packard to Louisville, KY, where they leave it with Anne Braden to get it to whoever might need it, or to be sold, or whatever will be most helpful.

Meeting Anne Braden emboldens them. Carol picks up the furniture refurbishing business with Abby again, and they quietly overcharge their wealthy customers and send the extra money south.  Carol sells her Madison Avenue apartment, sending the money to Birmingham after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.  They take risks by talking to their friends, convincing them to support freedom work with time and money, which sometimes works, and sometimes costs them friends.  

Therese makes connections via The Times to local efforts in New York, and they support again with money, and begin meeting activists and white allies.  They continue trying to shift money, shift wealth into the movement – to SNCC, to Selma, to the SCLC.  They argue about Malcolm X and the Black Panthers and the Young Lords and end up sending money there too. They figure out ways to put their bodies on the line – Carol, her heart rooted in the mutual interest of protecting children, gets arrested at the 1968 Democratic Convention protesting racism and the Vietnam War, while Therese provides jail support. 

And over time, they become more radicalized.  Over time, they become accomplices. 

Over time, they realize that until everyone is free, they are not free.