Browsing Tag


The Pocket Watch

Photo by Niklas Rhöse on Unsplash

Hailey had a magic pocket watch. The thing was, she didn’t know it was magic. She only knew it was old, and it felt nice in her hands.

“Grandpa, can I get this?”

He was looking through a stack of records.

He looked up, eyes blurry through his thick glasses. “Hmm?”

“This watch. Can I get it?” She held it out.

He came over to her, tucked the album he held under his arm, adjusted his glasses, and looked.

He had wavy white hair (not bald like so many other grandpas, which made Hailey feel proud, even though she knew it was unfair)— and he moved slowly through the world. She had asked her mom about that once.

“Is it because he’s old? Is that why he’s forgetful?”

Her mom had laughed. “No, your grandpa is just always somewhere else, and it takes him a while to get back.”

Hailey had been puzzled.

“He’s some other place in his mind— he’s a great thinker, your grandpa, and he travels far away without going anywhere at all.”

“Oh! Like Narnia,” Hailey had said. And after that she always liked to watch him come back to this world. It reminded her of a video she saw on the Discovery Channel once about a whale coming up from deep water.

Grandpa gave the little knob on top of the pocket watch a turn and held it up to his ear, cocking his head to one side.

“Does it work?” Hailey asked. She knew it wouldn’t’ matter— he’d let her get it anyway, not like if she was out with Nana and Papa, her other grandparents. They were practical. They had been farmers all their lives, and Hailey figured you couldn’t go traveling to Narnia if you had to plant corn and milk cows. She knew Grandpa would be able to tell the pocket watch was special.

“Hmm,” he mumbled. (He always mumbled— unless he was reciting Shakespeare or Longfellow or one of the other poets he liked so much— then he was “a great orator,” as Mom said.)

“Something’s loose inside— hear that rattle?” He held it out to her. In the stillness of the dusty old shop, she could hear some small piece sliding against the casing. She nodded.

“But you can fix it,” she said. It wasn’t really a question. Grandpa was an engineer. He had worked on building rocket engines for NASA long ago. Mom agreed that Grandpa’s Narnia was probably full of gears and gadgets and inventions.

He shrugged and handed it back to her, which was Grandpa-speak for “yes.”

Hailey held it close and turned the dials, feeling the now-smooth filigreed case, enjoying the click of the hidden gears as she adjusted the time.

Half an hour later, Grandpa said, “Now, then,” and Hailey knew that meant he was done looking. He gave the man at the register some cash and they left the store, treasures in hand.

First draft, timed writing, Stories for Dreamers

Moana for the Win

I know I’m late to this party– I’m late to a lot of them.

I finally watched “Moana” after catering to my 7-year-old son’s repeated soundtrack requests.

I was blown away.

Not so much by the story as by the kind of story: it’s so female-focused. Not only is there no romance, there are some other big notables:


Moana’s mom is not an overprotective bear

I liked elements of “Brave,” but was irritated that the mom was the one who enforced societal oppression. I appreciated that Moana didn’t have to fight her mom in order to find herself.


The ocean is a main character

What’s more feminine than the water that birthed all life… and which ebbs and flows and follows the moon?


Grandmother safeguards Moana’s purpose

The three feminine stages of life are maiden, mother, crone. I loved the symbolism of the crone using her wisdom, experience, patience and irreverence to affirm the maiden.

The mission is to save the Creation Goddess

To restore the heart!! This is exactly what’s next in our culture: restoring the power and honor of the Divine Feminine.

Moana doesn’t set out to fight Maui. She doesn’t go out to slay monsters. She goes out to heal the wound that is birthing the monsters and destruction. Imagine what our world will look like when we make decisions that aren’t about conquering but about healing.


‘You’re a princess, not a wayfinder’

Maui explicitly calls out the elephant in the room: ‘you wear a skirt, you have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess, you’re not a wayfinder.’ THANK YOU, Disney, for finally getting past the damsel nonsense.

In “Brave” the heroine is fighting against being a damsel. In “Moana” the heroine (and the ocean) squash the damsel limitations in about two minutes of screen time– and we get to go on with the adventure, not questioning our heroine’s legitimacy.


The dark side of the Divine Feminine

Te Ka spews lava, rage, destruction. You know those hypercritical mothers-in-law in sitcoms? That’s the same thing. That’s the Divine Feminine devalued, powerless. That’s how I feel when I bump up against sexism and division of labor.

This might actually be the most powerful element of the story: the acknowledgement that what seems evil, what we think we must conquer (or at least avoid), is actually wounded and needs our help to become whole again.

She’s not a waif

Wll, at least not by Disney standards. Pretty cool to compare Moana and Ariel dolls:

The Leftovers:

A few irritating old Disney standards were still present.

Male/Female body ratio

I know Maui is a demigod, but he (and the chief) are four times the size of most of the female characters.

This is still drawing pretty hard on the old Atlas Bodybuilding standard:


Doe eyes

Although Moana isn’t quite as doe-eyed as other Disney girls, the cute-baby-animal thing is still going strong.

Why is this a problem? Because babies (animal and human) have extra big eyes for their head-size, which is why we think they’re so cute. But babyish cuteness is one thing that reinforces the attitude that females are small, weak, in need of protection, etc. Not helping the revolution.

Read more about “Baby Schema” here.


Sassy hips

She’s nowhere near as sexualized as Elsa from “Frozen,” but I think we could get rid of the little hip pop without losing any of her spunk.


That said, this is the first time in my life I’ve ever told people that they really should watch a Disney animated movie.

And the best bonus of all is hearing my son sing not only “You’re Welcome,” but walk around the house belting out “I am Moana!”

Moana for the win.