Songs for the Struggling Artist

Excuse me, Ma’am

The man in an oxford shirt came up behind me at the narrow passage of the café and did not stop moving as he said, “Excuse me, ma’am” and walked on, scrolling through his phone.

I muttered, “Don’t you ma’am me,” after he passed but what I really wanted to do was set him on fire with my magical fire-shooting ability.

I know the offense was minor and he probably only called me ma’am because there’s no feminine equivalent to sir and even though it sounds like “Outta my way, old lady” to me, he thinks he’s being respectful and at least he didn’t say, “Move, bitch,” and I should be grateful for even an attempt at politeness. But maybe if I combusted enough people for calling me ma’am, we could finally find a respectful word for women instead of limping by with miss and ma’am and madam since forever. Sometimes it takes a little fire.

I want a fire shooting power or a spontaneous combustion ability or to just truly access my dragon self and be able to gobble up those that displease me. I am so weary of conceding and getting out of the way and I don’t want to make a mess but I do want to obliterate my enemies.

The thing is, though, even if I woke up with such a superpower tomorrow, I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t use it. If I got a skein, like the women in Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary book, The Power, I don’t think I’d go on a mad electrocuting spree. I think I would probably keep it to myself – but I sure would feel a lot better knowing I could do it.

If I had, in my back pocket, the power to vanquish a world of enemies, I might be a little more apt to speak my mind at a meeting or on the street or in the passageways of small cafes where boys feel they own the throughways. I might not mutter, “Don’t you ma’am me.” I might say it loud. I might let it resonate and hang dangerously over the air, as the power danced around my fingertips. And we could all feel the electricity I was keeping in store, what energy I was using to NOT combust someone.

My anger had abated somewhat after the fetid air of the Kavanaugh hearings cleared a little – or maybe my anger just went underground these last few months. Eventually, it seemed, I did not long to combust every man I saw. But the recent spate of attacks on reproductive justice have begun to once again stir the dragon I have within and I am longing to actually be as dangerous as I feel. Don’t ma’am me. You might not mean anything by it. But I’m not sure what I’ll do. You just better hope my magic hasn’t grown in yet.

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If She’s Not Shooting Fire From Her Fingers, I Don’t Want to See It

I was once a voracious watcher of movies and TV. When I was a pre-teen I would go to films even if I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like them. I saw whatever I could get my eyes on. TV, too. I’d watch any old thing. There was always something to learn.

As time has gone by, I am much more discerning in what I put in front of my eyeballs. I am picky about what I watch and will abandon anything that isn’t doing the job. I think that may have something to do with age and a desire not to waste my increasingly precious time.

But in the last few weeks, I have become even pickier. I need my viewing to be medicinal, in some way. I want it to help me through the current moment. And there’s not a whole lot that will do that.

What’s interesting to me, though, is how clear it is what WILL do the job.

I need it to star women, preferably with magical powers, in positions of authority. I want witch stories. I want women in charge with men at their mercy.

What I’ve run into, though, is how little of this sort of story there is. In fact, I’ve already seen most of the things that would fit the bill. I’m exploring a wider and wider range of what will satisfy me. Why oh why is it so hard to find a show where a lady sets people on fire? Won’t anyone give me what I need?

In my search, though, I have found some things I didn’t know I needed. The Worst Witch is a show for young people and while so far no one’s been set on fire, I’m finding that seeing a witch school for girls with an all female staff means, after watching three episodes, there was only one man onscreen for less than 20 seconds. I did not know I needed this. But I did. It is an all girl world and, in it, the girls are learning to become authoritative.

“Do you know what a witch does?”” asks one teacher.
“Spells?” guesses the struggling student. “Broom stick flying. Wears a pointy hat?”
“She bends the world to her will.”

Oh my god I need to learn how to do this. Someone sign me up for witch school immediately.

But what’s funny is – the actual line was not “She bends the world to her will.” In trying to remember this scene for this blog, I made that up. Because that is what I want witching to be. Because it is what I want.

Actual line: “A witch makes things go her way.”
Nice. But not quite as powerful as I need, apparently.

I need to watch women bending the world to their wills – whether it is through magic or some other means. Oh, what other means are there? My needs are so specific right now and so underserved. I want a world full of women but I stopped watching Orange Is the New Black because I cannot watch all those women completely disenfranchised, trapped and unable to exercise real power.

I want women with magic powers because I want women with power. Will the Charmed reboot serve me as well as the old one did? I think so. I’ve seen two episodes so far and before they even discovered their magical powers, one of the Charmed Ones punched an MRA dude in the face, so this show won me over quickly. However, so far, the new Charmed Ones have not set anyone on fire the way the old ones did and this will need to change. Pronto.

I got to see a few episodes of the TV adaptation of A Discovery of Witches and while there is one very satisfying fire circle, one deadly circle of fire is not enough circles of fire for me. I need 99% more fire circles.

I have never been that interested in violence in film and TV. I generally look away and plug my ears but I suddenly understand the desire for it. Why are these characters TALKING when they could be shooting fire out of their fingers?!

So – if you have any shows to recommend that fit this very specific bill, I would very much appreciate it. I imagine someday I’ll be ready to watch something besides women shooting fire again, but that moment has not yet arrived. So send me your pyrokinetic witches, please.

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