Thursday, February 28, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
1936 - The Great Ziegfeld
In it Michael Moore asks a lot of questions about our violence toting culture and at one point contrasted it with Canada. Canada has 40 million people, the US has 400 million. Canada has 10 million households with about 7 million guns. The US has about 40 million households with about 28 million guns. So the gun to person ratio in both countries is about the same. In 2001 over 15,000 people were killed in the US by violent assault with a weapon, Canada had 7. Seven. Nation wide - Seven. That happens in a day in LA.
So Mr. Moore begged the question why? Why does no one shoot each other in Canada when we have 1st graders shooting other 1st graders here? Why does no one lock their doors in Canada even? Like people who had previously been broken into still didn't lock their doors and that mystified him. When he was in the local bar he formed a theory as to why that I agree with. He was watching the news and it was all positive. No "Murder in the Mall" or "Hostage Alerts!" The people weren't being pumped full of fear every night about their neighbors.
That stupefied me. They weren't being taught how to fear each other at all, but more how to relate to one another. Mr. Moore goes on to talk about the culture of fear we have churning here in the US and that got me thinking and I'm drafting a post specifically on that as we speak so I'll get to that later but today I wanted to talk about something else.
This little quip of Mr. Moore's helped me make a resolve. I wasn't going to be taught to fear anymore and I was going to start unlearning all of this by surrounding myself with positive news. So I was watching 60 minutes and this story came on and it filled me with joy. THIS is what things should be about. Can you imagine if there were more Gustavos in the world?
And what a story!! From the middle of impoverished Venezuela comes this musical genius that used music, simple music, as a refuge from fear. There was no fear in music, just therapy and a way to assert yourself and contribute constructively. And what a GENIUS that set up El Sestema. Whoever they are, the world owes them a massive "Thank You!". When Gustavo said that he has plans to implement similar programs here in LA I almost started crying with happiness. If I'm not in rural Peru working with the Peace Corps next year I am buying Phil Harmonic season tickets just to be in the same room with that kind of person of passion and excellence. What a gift. What a reason to hope instead of fear, and what a marvelous soundtrack to go with that kind of change. I get warm and fuzzy inside every time I think about it.
*disclaimer- I think Michael Moore is a slightly more talented and ballsy version of Jerry Springer. He makes relevant movies composed of a majority of valid points and they get people talking, which I'm grateful for. But on the whole I find his sensationalistic approaches insensitive, disturbing, and just a hair shy of invasive. I suppose that's what the majority of people need to actually feel something about something now-a-days but as the sensitive type, when I finish watching any of his films I feel like I went out to run through the sprinklers and come back red, bruised, and traumatized because they were all really fire hydrants.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Thursday, February 14, 2008
It's Valentines. It seems hard to acknowledge little else even if you try. Everywhere there are people in love and today is the day you're the most acutely aware of it whether you're one of them or not.
It's also my mission birthday. I got a plane in Dulles to come home 7 years ago today. So naturally it's a more than a little difficult to ignore today and all its implications in my life so I've decided to admit to all of them and embrace them, prickly or not.
I don't have a valentine. I have a beautiful circle of people who love me, but no valentine. This saddens me. Not down the levels of black lipstick and Mazzie Star, but no matter how loud my inner Oprah charged feminist screams "I don't need to love anyone or anyone to love me but me (which I do)" it doesn't change the fact that there aren't any flowers for me somewhere and it doesn't change the fact that it hurts. It hurts every year, every time I think about it. No matter how much I have willed that fact to go away it remains. My capacity to shoulder the pain has increased but the hurt still there. Every time. Every year. I've concluded that its because no amount of self help reading or paradigm surgery can change The Programming. I'm of the XX chromosomal persuasion. I'm a woman and it is not meet for me to be alone. Those are just the facts and I need to deal with them.
I heard this song the other day on the Hotel Cafe site that had a seemingly trite lyric but now comes to mind -
"girls need attention and boys need us"
So no matter how many cards from mom, or "True Love" conversation hearts from friends, a girl at a table by herself who isn't meeting anyone will still look up every time the door opens with just a little bit of hope, not matter what day it is.
I've cursed the fairy tales whose fault I've thought it is that I should have a happily ever after. Tori says they've poisoned me. If I didn't know of a Happily Ever After I wouldn't want one right? The logic seemed sound. So I shut off the Barbara Streisand movies, hugged my Jane Austen tight and busied myself with errands, chores, hobbies, work and school. But dissonant living is a terrible thing. To be about one thing but talk yourself into another is right out. I was an idealistic hypocrite because even then, I still looked up when the door opened. I was praying to be proved wrong. I desperately wanted to be wrong which meant that I was on the right track before. Because, in all actuality, the fairy tales don't lie. They're true. Life isn't nearly as well dressed and there aren't any FX personnel on the set, but people do fall in love and stay there. It’s possible. It’s real. It happens everywhere all the time and it’s the most beautiful thing this life has to offer. It’s the best part of us and a head-in-the sand stance on the issue isn't nearly as therapeutic as I once thought. I was painfully wrong because I've found that whether you love or hate the fairy tale, Valentines day still comes and I still look up when someone comes in the door.
I love today.
I love it because I love the fact that I get to tell people I love that I love them. I love the fact that we take a day to think about each other and what we mean to each other. I love the novel chocolate and acceptable frills. I love the fact that the more tulle and fake dew drops on the silk roses the more packed it is with accolades and devotion. I love how people sometimes screech the brakes of their lives and schedules and run to hug the person they might take for granted the rest of the year. I love all of that.
I just wish, a wee bit of it was mine to have instead to observe.
I'd love a single flower and a kitchen slow dance after work. I'd love an obnoxious cross-eyed stuffed bear from an off ramp vendor with a greasy hand print on it from my breathless fella.
I'd love to see that searching, love filled look he might have after giving over said cross eyed bear and being able to give him one in return.
And it’s OK to want that.
It doesn't make me weak or pathetic or needy.
It just makes me a woman.
A woman who needs to be needed.
A woman who still looks up every time the door opens, just for a second, hoping, just for a second, at a corner table by herself and deciding to stop resenting herself for it.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Yes - it can be a bit tedious, repetitive and has this nasty habit of taking all day to do.
Sort, iron, hang, match-fold, match-fold, match-fold. Sort, hang, sort, hang, fold fold fold.
But what I love about it is that it's something that only requires just a smidgen of focus, brain power, and physicality. It mobilizes all of the lower brain and motor functions just enough to loose to top of your head to go where it will so I find that it's marvelous pondering time for me.
I've had a few major "ah-ha!"s before during the laundry hour and this week was one of them.
In the face of uncertain Grad School opportunities and thinking about suitable Plan B's (ie: Peace Corps, making a go at the novel writing thing, doing freelance journalism, attempting freelance journalism, staying where I am and waiting out the recession with a cushy 401K and health insurance...) I found myself bemoaning the fact that I didn't feel very good at anything.
Like I've always wanted to be REALLY GOOD at something. Like so good it was undeniable and doing anything else with my life would be unthinkable. It would make Plan As and Plan Bs much much much easier. Also, after reading this article by one of my favorite LA Times columnists last week I felt even more inadequate.
How I'd love to have Mozart that melts hearts come pouring out of my fingertips or be such an amazing writer that "it was just a matter of time" instead of a "Hail-Mary shot in the dark" kind of operation. Like - why am I not singularly passionate about one thing - like cars, clothes, aerobics, water purification, shoveling or dinosaurs like so many are? Why am I just very interested in almost everything and know and have talent enough to hold my own in a cocktail party conversation or a road show?
I was feeling ordinary and undistinguished most of the week and pretty much just hoping for the best. It wasn't the best headspace I've ever been in, I'll admit. Later in the week I was listening to my BYU Talks Podcast. I was on one President Hinkley gave in September last year called True to the Faith. In it he quotes the Fortune article "What it takes to be Great" by Geoffrey Colvin and turned my whole previously constructed paradigm upside down.
"An article in a recent issue of Fortune magazine indicated that we will achieve greatness only through an enormous amount of hard work over many years. . . . The good news is that [our] lack of a natural gift is irrelevant—talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. . . Nobody is great without work."
"the good news is [our] lack of natural gift is irrelevant - talent has little or nothing to do with greatness"
Well that was the best news I've heard all week. My problem isn't the fact that I'm not talented, just lazy, and that is entirely within my control. It may seem like a censuring comment but I can't tell you how strangely liberated I felt. Stuff Calvin and his Calvinism. I had just heard it, from the mouth of a Prophet, it’s about the time and effort, not the talent.
This wasn't something that I hadn't heard before or once believed not to be true. I've been intimately acquainted with the virtues of hard work. But this week, with the ideas that were taking root with melancholy and defeat, these ideas shattered them all like ice on a rosebush.
My mediocrity is my own fault only because I would not take the time, efforts, pains or make the sacrifices to be great and when I went back and reread that article about Robert Gupta I realized he was just a bundle of hard work too. There was talent in there as well, but it was mostly his heart never giving up.
So there I was, hangers in hand, realizing (without self deprecation) that my life is totally and completely within the grasp of greatness. I just have to claim it, and the only currency they take at the entrance is grueling hard work.
I'm still mulling over the different avenues in life that I feel are worthy of the kind of sacrifice and commitment Mr. Colvin and President Hinkley are talking about, but I feel much more confident and empowered this week. Hard work doesn't scare me, it never has, and I have had tastes of what 100% passionate commitment to something can bring. Missions are very useful in that facet.
I may never end up on Oprah, but I'll sure as heck deserve to be by the time I'm done. Just you see.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"I had Friends on that Death Star"
Hooray for Valentines Day!
Seasame gone Street
New levels of weird. Perhaps a possible departing gift for convicted Priests?
And last but far from least -
I'm sure my name twin would approve (turn up your speakers for this one).
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Now - for those who know me, I am no fashionista. I principally wear the same 4 colors and variations of the same 5 outfits in a mix of those 4 colors. If I were more of a suitable canvas for fashion I might be more proactive, but taste and common sense are far more important to me than trend, and I honestly don't want to frighten anyone. Kate Hudson can pull off feathers-
I cannot. I know this and I don't tempt the fates by trying. In fact, I think all three would thank me for not. I consider it an act of charity to those around me as well (even though I think I look well in gray).
However, as an art lover and Audrey Hepburn fan
I continually find myself drawn to fashion. Its something that can be every lady's art ya know? Expression and self expression are rarely tied up in a neater bow than in the relationship between a runway and an appreciative set of eyes.
As a connoisseur of folly I also find spiced and roasted red meat servings everyday in the Fashion world from my modest, outer window view from the apartment across the street of the Fashion World's meticulously decorated and scented Great and Spacious Mansion.
On a happy note though - Rag & Bone had some stuff that I thought was just precious.I would want to wear this with a very Euro pair of dark denim jeans and pointy boots.This just says Sunday drive up the coast with the top down and some Edith Piaf in the changer. I really REALLY liked the slacks but knee length shorts that were really popular this summer (like Rachael Taylor wore in Transformers? with the black heals? Gorgeous.). I think those would go fabulously with this and *bang* garment worthy fashion. Its very very possible.A Regency suit is a joy forever. Its like Jane and Liz Claiborne had a child and it was Rag & Bone Ready to wear Spring 2008.
I wish I was in NY, but not really because its like -30 there right now. All this goodness in one place is almost too much for a girl though. Almost.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Friday, February 1, 2008
I took a moment to silently give props to whatever copy editor Chipotle hired for finding an effective way of saying that they don't endorse torturing animals for the sake of American gluttony. I appreciated that (and we English geeks have to stick together, ya know?).
Then I started thinking about the word "humane". I used to volunteer at the Humane Society in Pasadena and I mused at the word back then too. It’s something I've always smiled to myself about. The root is "human" - implying that being humane is a human state and vice versa.
Simultaneously, in other brightly lit corners of the vernacular universe, being "human" has very different meanings. It’s an excuse for infidelity, selfishness, forgetfulness, and addiction. It’s a mental dirty laundry basket in which we comfortably put everything that we find wrong with us.
So the idea of "human" is apparently something that means both the best and the worst that we have to offer as a race. That amazes me.
Dual Natures are one of the most fascinating things in the world to me. God does not believe in homogony at all I think. Even what’s beneath our own skin is a constant pull between to very dissimilar forces and animators. I think we've always been aware of this as a race and its constantly fascinated and frightened us. Like its something we've always been aware of but never completely understood. I think that those feelings and deep rooted knowledge of this is expressed in the shades of our language and especially in the words we use to describe ourselves. When I started thinking about it, more than one have very clear double meanings/uses.
Being human, being smart, being special -
So after my 45 second ponderance I made the mistake of trying to articulate it to my coworkers or any other obliging stand-in-liner and I just got the you're-from-Mars look so I thought I'd take my thoughts to the blogger universe.
I know I'm not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed so I'm sure there is a world of insight and other examples of this. Please - teach me.