Nancy Segal's Fun with Phoetics welcomes Joetta McCrueter-Polk!
Nancy Segal's, Fun with Phoetics...'Where every guest is a treasure and every childhood photo is sacred.'
It was old, we were new. It was older than old, we were newer than new and some of us, very old indeed. It was a time for new beginnings and finding our way back. We all came from families of diverse backgrounds, yet it was the classrooms and teachers that threw the spotlight on or truest selves. Fall, ushered in by the hot breaths of Madame Santa Ana kept us in a whirlwind of bougainvillea whirlpools from Mission San Gabriel and in a maelstrom of Halloween burnt offerings, Thanksgiving hand-turkey cutouts, lanyards put away from last summer’s campgrounds and the profound sense that all these grownups cared about the seasonal times and tides and that they truly wanted to bequeath all this abundance to us.
I cried every time the ending bell rang and kept living for the next time we’d assemble for The Christmas Program and its calendar counterpart, The May Festival. We had a cornucopia of teachers at our fingertips and they in turn, taught our fingertips what came next. In first grade, it was gray mats and nap times and just noticing who did not flush the toilet that occupied one’s sense of order, cleanliness and consistency. In second grade, the soft, felt cutouts on Mrs. Hewlett’s scrap board gave us the first opportunity to touch a wondrous, nouvelle pointer-finger onto the two apples that made three, when you were called up to press one next to hers. In Fall, pumpkins and maple leafs joined the apple family and before we were released for Christmas Break, green wreathes and silvery garlands of Walt Disney styled cartoon scarlet bows graced the black background. It was a time for me when math was not capitalized yet, meant only addition and did not tax my troubled head. I had only to learn to count to ten and that was enough.
Phoetics & Femality (Female Consciousness)
Women are built to create. Our bodies are made for it. We create from the day we're here and have an innate need to preserve beauty. Why else would there be such a sudden surge for archiving and scrapbooking? Women are showing up in droves to preserve, protect, beautify, elevate, celebrate and venerate the events, people, places and moments of their private lives and perhaps unwittingly, themselves.
Female = image. This is why women are so passionate for image, we revel in and about it. We communicate with our body via gestures, facial nuances, hands, lips, eyes, hair in symbolic female language. In the material world we create photos, art, portraits, sketches, paintings, poetry, story, lyrics, and pastiches, soul collages and more. Our brains are wired to read, speak, intuit, convey and connect "image-matically." (My word) And we do all of this via the female energies from our inner-body wisdom.
Lest you doubt the power of image, of its sheer female presence, consider what happened six months to the day before 9/11, though it is seldom reported. The same terrorist group that took down The World Trade Center (another very female image) blew up a 3,000 year old sacred statue, the last and oldest image in the world, an ancient of what else, the female, the goddess. And when the early Hebrews wanted to control women's bodies & minds, the first thing they did was destroy every image--especially female ones--and then replace it with words they invented and branded as 'God's Law.' Why? Because words control thoughts. Image is unique, subjective, is in the eye of the beholder. Even when image is used for propoganda, remember there are always words to back up the image, "The better to control you with, my dear...". .Image is the Female Axiom & Principle
Image is the female axiom, province, principle, our birthright and we know it. So why then isn't the world crammed full of female creations? The answer is: We have become disconnected from our great power source, our sacred body--at just about every level.
From the day we enter the culture we are taught to abandon our sacred body in all it's female wisdom, our best friend, companion and lover. The messages are overt and covert. Our body is never 'enough.' Good enough, thin enough, pretty, light, dark, hairless, tall, short, graceful enough. It is drummed into our heads from the cradle that we are different, damaged, dirty, and most of all--dangerous--to ourselves and to others. Why would any woman turn to her body for any good creative reason given that brainwashing tripe? So we disconnect from our body, little by little, depth by depth. Only we don't know it and we go on to live our lives in ignorance of all our Original Potential.
Most women are not in their bodies. That is a psychological fact--ask any practicing female therapist.
Oh yes, we paint, sculpt, photograph, compose, write, dance, play, perform, yet the tragic truth is, we do it connected to/at the most superficial of body levels. Most of us are not fully and deep in our bodies.. And we just don't know how to return. Hey, we don't know we ever left! Phoetics changes that. Phoetics says your body is not only your instrument for creation, it carries conductors for truth, beauty and sacred mysteries. Phoetics knows: Your story is not your family, your story is you.
Phoetics uses biological, chemical, physical and intutitve energies that combine to bring a woman's living archival truths into the light. Those truths are preserved in her childhood photographs and her sacred inner body. Like the Hidden Pictures in Highlights, our childhood photos carry, preserve and convey hidden images, truths that peek from trees, linger in shadows, flowers, skies, buildings, people, animals and the girl you once: All captured in that 'phoetic moment.'
What's a Phoetic Moment?
Phoetics means, 'the poetry (poetic truth) in every photograph.'
A phoetic moment is captured every time a lens clicks, that sacred nanosecond that preserves the Beauty that is Truth. It is the magic and mystery our psyches 'get' subconsciously but seldom bring to full awareness and is where we enter our story, enter 'the picture' literally and figuatively. Your phoetic moments may slumber deeply in dusty drawers, disintegrate in corrrugated boxes, or just 'rest in peace' under the somber cover of a long lost album, but they don't leave and they don't go quietly. They cry out, come back! We are your staunchest allies, guardians of your original truths! We are myth. Return, only return. We love you.
In the process of Phoetics, I teach how to use your female body a new way, effortlessly, selflessly, naturally. You use both your non-dominanant and dominant hands, your sacred photo and magical rhymes that unlock any blocks to the past. And because your psyche always knows how what you're ready to receive and when, Phoetics is a wonderful adjunct to therapy, writing your journal and creative biography (I call it mythobiography). Phoetics is that magical 'open sesame.'
What does Phoetics open?
The dark vault to let the light of your story's truths pour in any project you are stuck on. Phoetics bequeaths what is every woman's birthright: to return, retrieve and revitalize her authentic self. Your original being, soul, spirit you were born as and with. Your story, purpose and calling.
We have been driven out of our home truths (psychic bodies) long enough. Women are re-awakening. The 3rd wave of female consciousness rolled in the last part of the 20th century and is now a tsunami. Time to give it a name we can easily toss and banter about with. I call it, 'Femality.'
[See poem: Who Am I?]
Whenever women ask, " How? How did you survive let alone want to live after a childhood as horrendous as that?" I tell them that the answer is both a 'how' and a 'why.' The How were the gifts I came packed with, gifts of female consciousness and the Why were the girls and women outside the family both real and fictional, of magic and myth who reflected back to me the Beauty I brought with me, the truths that comprise that Beauty.
Girls and women gave me all I needed to keep staying alive. From school, guitar and dance classes, their mothers, special teachers, and those powerful characters from books, film, TV and of course, the women who authored them. In my world, in my imagination they intermingled, crossed into each other's zones, fictional characters became real, and real females transcended into pure Otherworld back and forth. And that kept me going as best as possible.
Still, I fought a death wish. And it wasn't the abuse per se that made me want to leave this world, it never really is. It was the absence of a greater female image, a communal presence, with sacred gatherings, answers, child reverence that could reflect back to me that yes, there was a place for us.
Instead, the very substitute offered was what tipped me over the edge. Self naming 'houses of worship, ' pitching, proselitizing, pushing words like 'sacred, holy, serene', while what they really did was wipe out the female image, both baby girl and woman forever or disguise her to fit their own agenda. Not one taught let alone practiced what is the number one female commandment: Honor thy child. I was in a mythical, spiritual nightmare, a dead zone. At nine I want OUT. But how? I couldn't harm my sacred being. there was no way to just gradually fade out like The Invisible Girl. So why and how did I stay?
Well, I was blessed twice over. First with the rare gift of reading archetypal truths in people, places and things. Second, using this vision with real and fictional females, places and things that helped me see what was missing, what had to be restored. They showed me the Why of coming here. That sheer sacred femaleness comprises Nancy's Truth. My story is the story of Us, the image, female consciousness; I call it Femality.
Femality is how I survived, thrive and what I teach via Nancy's Truth and the art of Phoetics.
Mrs. Vischer was right out of a Victorian novella, a Nancy Drew mystery. She could have been cast in a Shirley temple movie yet she was less cliché and far more real. In fact seldom have I seen her portrayal in film. It would have to be foreign, perhaps a young Margaret Tyzack for Maude Vischer was as Teutonic as her name dictated; tympani, brass, a little strings thrown in (for good measure?), all minor and then some major to minor chords with a goodly assortment of B and F flats.
She was no symphony, not even a pretty scherzo but she was a good steady beat, a little too forte at times and always running up and down the pizzicato scales of life. Her teachings were one long crescendo after another.
She was I suppose a good Bach fugue, a cantata.
By nature she was drawn to music but by calling, to impart, imbue and infuse it into as many children she could find who were pliable, talented and with backbone enough to roll with her baton punches—aimed not at us but stabbing the air, commanding attention and all before snack time, no mean feat for any grammar school music teacher.
Marilyn remembers her always with her ‘basket’ in tow; the deeply curved dark woven giant seashell stuffed with maracas, sandpaper blocks, tambourine, mini cymbalines and orange, blue and green pegs to whack to the beat of La Cucaracha. I was too fixated upon her personae to remember her paraphernalia. She cut a lasting impression, one long Kodachrome slide show. I remember her always in vivid rose tones.
She attempted a perm or had hair with a slight frizz to the ends. It was ‘dressed’ like Ethel Mertz’s or Spring Byington’s on December Bride and though she was no more than in her thirties gave the distinct impression of a matron, a womanly woman like Hildegard of Bingham.
Maude Vischer, whom the non-musical kids dubbed ‘vicious’ was known for flare-ups, not hurtful or abusive, she merely boiled over from her desperate attempts at Beauty. How to get thirty ten-year-olds to sound like Christian madrigals piping “When Alan-a-dale Went a Hunting” ? And oh, those Francophile moments she went over the pronunciation of, “On the Bridge at
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond
She never let you slide. Heard every nuance and heart the nuance you forgot to remember. Even used a metronome to no avail to tick-tock home just how to stay in accord. One and two and three and four! Baton raised, dress sleeve stuffed with under the cuff with starched hanky all a tremble, pagan nostrils all a-flare with red spider veins like a map to some rare land and off we would follow. Deep breath and...
Here we come a wassailing
among the leaves so green
and we are little children
who n’er been seen….
Parents tittered, younger siblings wriggled, older siblings paced whilst Mrs. Metz took her rightful place in the center of the modest auditorium to bring forth the maven who made it all possible. It was like a whole other dimension took over, the world stopped and it was only our school, our auditorium that was lit up just like on the GE commercial, where the entire village below glittered in an animated fly-by.
My parents seldom showed but the ones I loved did and all our hard work before those starving recess practices paid off. It was her finest hour; she was electrified with pride and excitement. You would have thought we were at The Met or Carnegie Hall and she was presenting The Master Chorale. In our red choir robes on the risers we sang and followed her lead to the letter.
She wore customary holiday corsages, red and green bells holly and ivy and crimson berried hawthorn things. Even her legs tapered like a Steinway baby grand’s in black pumps with the old seams down the back. Her lipstick; red. Her silver rimmed glasses; sometimes. Her spirit stalwart.
Maude Vischer gave to me the truth of a mage, a sorceress, a Morgan Le Fey for she could conjure up the best in all of us. And I and Marilyn and Chris were the ones she expected the most from. And we gave it. We delivered.
We didn’t dare not.
Mine was a most unusual family. Unique. Strange. Bizarre. Black and white and sepia. Lurid LA Confidential torch flame colors. Bird of paradise patterns. Truly a complex kaleidoscope of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and the cronies who came and went.
They seemed to exist in a world that did not match anywhere, anyone nor anything. When it came to characters larger than life etched from the most somber ochres, bowel browns and muddied charcoals, The Levensons had no parallel. The Segals were equally smudge-worthy, but then again, I did not live with them, only my father who certainly deserved his rightful place along side The Hall of Felons who married into that clan.
Isn’t that the way it always seems to etch out?
Like to like. Tolstoy may have been right. All unhappy families are different. He just never wrote the darkest truths. He couldn't.
He wasn’t a woman.
Who Am I?
I am the crack of a Spanish fan
the black echo of a castanet
and the shadow of a fringed shawl
I am the admiring glance
of a butch to a femme
and I am the femme’s sidelong glance
I come from a place
where violins begin
when sidewalk accordions fold up
and spider monkeys are tucked in
for the night
It is a tierra baja place
under Mother’s sacred space
where cave dances
the twist of a beribboned wrist
the cut of a French cuff
the pause before a tango
and the suspension after
I am the violet spectrum
a black satin pump
the spindle of a well-turned heel
I can take my femme to whatever ecstasy she desires
then turn around
and surrender to
her long lost moves
until I give her back
that tuxedoed moan
and get up and do it
otra vez, une fois de plus…
I come from a place
Where children come first
I come from English ivy
whiter than white Celtic sighs
blacker than black African sheen
and I give tartan its hue
Boadica tosses me in her tresses
Vita & Violet are my progeny
And I roll in on every wave of labor
Who am I?
I am female consciousness
Older than old,
I am no ‘ism’
I am an ‘ity’
© Nancy’s Truth
To understand my story you must know other stories, the characters I lived and the ones who live in me always. I lived every famous fairy tale. I lived versions no one knows about. I recreated moments from a children's animated film that recognized the being I am and the message I bring.
I knew archetypes better than family and my family less than myself.
To understand my story you must know Nancy Drew. You must know who she is and Bess and George and Hannah too, because they all live in me and were present as I lived my story from age .
To understand my story you must become well acquainted with Stephen Gordon, Angela Crossby and all the female characters in this 1928 banned English novel—for now you are treading on my most sacred ground. Only I know who Stephen is, what makes her immortal, why women must accept her truths—the good, bad, holy, indifferent, sacred and eternal because when you speak her name, you speak mine. When you speak mine you speak Hall's, Vita’s, Violet’s, Renee’s, Natalie’s, Daphne’s and yes, even Millicent’s.
To understand my story you must get down and dirty with Rebecca. You must be willing to gird yourself to the real Mrs. Danvers and to listen to the Mrs. Danvers in my life, for I lived under her evil spells and I broke them. My mother was her biggest fan. My mother was also Rebecca and so many archetypes it would set your head spinning. Her only rival in terms of archetypal abundance was my father. No one but no one could match him, archetype per archetype; but that is my Part Two.
To know my story is to know that women are always Part One. Women are the subject, the predicate. They are the first, middle and last word. To know me is to accept that men factor in—they are not what my story is really about.