Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movie Listing (2001)

Now, to 2001: year of many a change in my life. New city, new house, new school, "new" family. Hated that year. But it was very good, movie wise.

My favorite movies of 2001:
Moulin Rouge!: directed by Baz Luhrmann, starring my dearest Ewan McGregor and gorgeous Nicole Kidman. This movie brought the musicals back to life - thank God for that! I've always been a little upset that the story has the touch of The Lady of the Camellias. The courtesan that dies from consumption after finding true love... cliché. But the movie is simply amazing! Visually, mind-blowing, and the songs, goose-bumps-giving. And, wow, boy can McGregor sing, are you kidding me? Impressive! One of my favorite movies.

Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring: directed by Peter Jackson, starring Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom, Ian McKellen, Sean Bean, Cate Blanchett and Christopher Lee, among many great others. I'm a fan of the books by Tolkien, and I think the LOR trilogy is the best movie adaptation from a book I've ever seen. This movie, just like the others, is spectacular - and I clearly remember catching my breath when Aragorn/Strider takes off his hood for the first time, revealing his face to Frodo. And then I forgot to breathe for a while - he was just soooo handsome.... Anyway, moving on: the story is carefully adapted, maintaining only the essential to make it flow naturally. And if they change a few elements here and there, in order to have more appeal to the great audience (like the substitution of the elf Glorfindel for Arwen), well, who can blame them? One of my faves from all time as well.

A Beautiful Mind: directed by Ron Howard, starring Russell Corwe, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany and Ed Harris. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I can think of no one better to portray John Nash in such a beautiful way than Crowe. And to play such great roles, like Maximus and Nash, so different from each other, in a row... Hands down to this guy. Also to Connelly, she's great! Paul Bettany, whom I abslutely adore, was flawless here! And Crowe totally deserved the Best Leading Actor Oscar, btw.

A Knight's Tale: directed by Brian Helgeland, starring Heath Ledger, Rufus Sewell, Paul Bettany, Laura Fraser, James Purefoy, Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk. Again, top of my list. I absolutely loooove this movie, to the point of knowing Chaucer's introduction speeches by heart. Bittersweet now, with Heath Ledger and all... but for geeks like me, who actually like reading Chaucer, and love Medieval stuff, this was a banquet! And the idea of a modern soundtrack was great. Just don't like Laura Fraser that much... Love James Purefoy's Edward, the Black Prince! Great historical character, he plays a very charismatic prince. But the best part of the film, for me, is always Bettany's Chaucer. Everything is perfect, the way he moves, looks, speaks... Bettany and Ledger acting alongside each other... hard to get any better.


Spirited Away (in the original: Sen to Chihiro kamikakushi): directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This is a jewel of Japanese animation, a kingdom where Miyazaki is the sovereign. Though often compared to Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, this is much more delicate, touching and inspiring. Alice must simply find her way home; Chihiro must find herself in order to go back home. She starts the movie as a whiny sullen pessimistic little girl, and ends it as a hard-working strong and generous girl. And how can one not fall in love with Chihiro and Haku, as they fall for each other? A true masterpiece. 

Shrek: directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson. One of the funniest animations to come out in years! This was a score alright. The spoofing of traditional fairy-tales is just priceless! And the voices of Mike Meyers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz (whom I truly don't like) are just perfect for the roles. Many other parody animations have followed since then, but none has gotten near Shrek. 

Monsters, Inc.: directed by Pete Docter and David Silverman. Disney and Pixar is a perfect combination! The idea that being under the bed or inside the closet is actually the monsters' living is hysterical! And to think that many of them are stooges themselves can make any child stop being afraid of boogey monsters. And the little girl "Boo" makes all of us say "Awwww" whenever she's on screen. Awesome. 

Others worthy of notice that year:
From Hell, Sweet November, Serendipity, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones's Diary, Gosford Park, The Princess Diaries, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, O Xangô de Baker Street, Ocean's Eleven, The Others, America's Sweethearts, Vanilla Sky.

What I regret having watched in 2001:
 Scary Movie 2: the first one was a novelty, and so it managed to be funny. The sequels are not. I did not bother watching any of the others, the second was bad enough. I remember smiling ONCE during the entire movie. Boy, was that a bad date...

Glitter: I did NOT watch it. But the idea of Mariah Carey acting... argh...

Not Another Teen Movie:  gross. Simple like that.

Josie and the Pussycats:  an inferior Spice World. And Spice World was as bad as it gets...

Pearl Harbor: ... Nobody says it better than one of the songs in Team America: "I miss you more than Michael Bay missed the mark/ When he made Pearl Harbor/ I miss you more than that movie missed the point/ And that's an awful lot, girl/ (...) Pearl Harbor sucked/ And I miss you/ I need you more than Ben Affleck needs acting school/ He was terrible in that film/ I need you like Cuba Gooding needed a bigger part/ He's way better than Ben Affleck (...)/ Why does Michael Bay get to keep on making movies? (...)". 'Nuff said.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Movie Listing (2000)

With the end of the decade approaching us, everyone's making lists of "best..." and "worst..." of the 00's. And I thought "why the heck not?".
The first list I thought of making was, of course, a list of the best books. But then it hit me that I'm surprinsingly unaware of contemporary literary works, my wheelhouse being 19th century and before. It's much more advisable my making a list of movies. Therefore, this starts with a trip back to my 15 years of age. Oh, those days... (it was a particularly good year). Bear in mind that this list is exclusively my opinion, regardless of the critics and whatnots, and that I also haven't seen a number of much praised films.

My favorite movies of 2000:
Gladiator: directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe and Joaquim Phoenix. The movie that finally threw Crowe in the long-deserved arms of success and world-wide acknowledgement, not to mention the Oscar nod AND the Oscar itself. Great, great movie, from beginning to end. Nothing is overdone - and  this can happen in the blink of an eye when it comes to epics. Most importantly: it doesn't suffer from the presence of overrated leading actors in its midst, like Alexander would, a few years later...

Almost Famous: directed by Cameron Crowe, it revealed my dear, dear Kate Hudson. She managed to gave unexpected life to a role that could've been easily shallow. All the actors shine there and the movie, though with a simple plot, makes you feel like you actually got something from just watching it. If you're a rock fan, this is mandatory, for sure.

Chocolat: directed by Lasse Hallström, starring Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina and Carrie-Anne Moss. Great cast. Some have complained about the predictability of the plot. Well, it's not about whether you can guess what's gonna come next - but how it makes you feel. Yes, you know Roux is gonna come back, that the Comte de Reynaud and Caroline Clairmont are eventually gonna cave in, and that something's gonna happen to the ashes of Vianne's mom. That's not the point at all. The point is learning more about standing up for what we believe in, about tolerance and love. We need more stories like that nowadays.

Chicken Run: directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park. Brilliant! Specially at a time when the great audience was up to here with Japanese animations. Well, you take that, Jap studios! The British can still kick your butt! (still? when could they ever?... anyway...). The voice cast is rightly chosen, and the lines are something of a genius, like the old rooster Fowler's "Pushy Americans, always showing up late for every war." Ha! And Mrs. Tweedy is simply frightening as the villainess... Had I been younger, I think I would've had a couple of nightmares with her! This is a movie to be seen over and over again. One that makes you believe that hens can actually fly (long distances, I mean). And if they can fly that far, what can't you yourself do, if you set your mind to it?

The Emperor's New Groove: directed by Mark Dindal, it's a much, much underrated Disney movie, and my personal favorite of that year. The last of a long lineage of brilliant animated movies (until this year with the, for me triumphal, return with The Princess and the Frog), this one passed pretty much under the radar. There are no princes in white horses, damsels in distress, fairy-tale castles, singing animals, romance, nor people bursting into song, except for the initial "Emperor's Theme Song", and Sting singing something over the credits - which we can forgive. What it has is a simple plot in a fast pace, with quick-witted jokes and laugh-out-loud satires. It's probably the funniest Disney animation movie since Aladdin. And David Spade's voice for Kuzco is right on the money! And it does have some of the traditional Disney moves: the necessity of the protagonist's internal growth in order to overcome his difficulties, the over-the-top villain, with a stupid but funny sidekick who's usually not really evil, the kind light-hearted peasant who helps the protagonist (usually someone from royalty). Definitely, a Disney classic, not to be missed!

Others worthy of notice that year:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Bedazzled; O Auto da Compadecida; Memento.

What I regret having watched in 2000:
Unbreakable: ok, I gotta be completely honest here. I have no friggin' idea why I didn't like it. The whole thing just seemed so eeeeeendless, and the plot stupid... it did nothing for me. Yes, random and vague, but there's nothing I can, or rather, nothing I wanna do about it.

Cast away: maybe it was the fact that I went to watch it cus it was mandatory for English classes at school, I don't know... point is, I hated it. And good Lord, how I hated the damn volleyball!

The sixth day: an utter waste of time.

Dracula 2000: I bet Anne Rice was tossing and turning in her tomb. Oh wait, she's not dead... I meant Bram Stoker. They're all the same, all those people writing about vampires, what's up with that... But I gotta admit something: the idea of Dracula being actually Judas was really interesting, I'll give it that.

Cruel Intentions 2: how dare they make a sequel without Ryan Phillipe???? That was outrageous, really. Besides, the movie sucked. I choose to forget Amy Adams was Kathryn, cus I absolutely adore Amy Adams.

Blair Witch 2: The Book of Shadows: I haven't seen it. Nor do I intend to, ever. But to think that someone actually deemed it a good idea to create a sequel to the 99 movie (which I did see) is simply ludicruous. And what's UP with this title anyway? Did they copy it from Charmed or something?

2001, here I come!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Humbuging!

Well well well, would u look at that... I said "Humbug!" three times, with all the contempt I'm capable of - and yet, no ghost of Christmas Past, Present nor Future has paid me a visit. I thought they would, u know, telling me to stop being such a spoiled girl, otherwise Tiny Tim would die. Or something like that.
Huh. Apparently, the Xmas Ghosts don't work like Beetlejuice.

Well, that being the case... God bless us everyone! (Jeez...)





Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thinking

"I'm not like them/ But I can pretend (...) I think I'm dumb/ Or maybe just happy."
(Dumb, In Utero, Nirvana)

One of my best friends - my brother, actually - is one of the most intelligent people I've ever met. And I know some darn smart people, mind. And yet, he accepts things as they come, doesn't ask himself or anybody else any kind of questions, and that's that. I'd come down to the conclusion that it was out of sheer laziness.
But I found out the true reason the other day, over lunch:
"Man is the only animal that needs to think. All the other animals simply... are. And they're utterly happy. We're not. We keep looking for happiness here and there, never truly finding it. And the more we think about it, the more miserable we become. You know what I really want? To live like an animal. I just wanna fuck, sleep, eat and fuck some more. When we think, we raise questions. Unbearable questions. Why thinking, then? It's just unpleasant."

Yeah, "lazy" is not the word. "Coward"? I don't think so either. I just had to agree. How could I not? Thinking, true thinking, IS unplesant, it IS unbearable, more often than not. How many times haven't I wished that I could just stop?

House M. D. We're in the 6th season, and I see it every goddamn week. A couple of weeks ago, the episode revolved around this guy, Jimmy Sidas, a genius with an I.Q. of 178 - but  who abused his cough medicine, along with booze, to lower his intelligence. He got married to this dumb woman, and worked as a courier. Why?

Jimmy:
I work as a courier because I want to. It's easy, I don't have to think.
Dr. Taub [ironic]: It's too hard to think.
Jimmy: No, just unpleasant.

Jimmy: When my brain was on low, everything didn't seem so miserable anymore. Life was bearable.

Jimmy: It's lonely, isn't it?
Dr. House: It's not that bad.
Jimmy: Then you're not that smart. You ever tried to kill yourself?
Dr. House: Not quickly.
Jimmy: I did. 12 years ago I jumped off the top of my eight-story building into a dumpster bin the day before pick up. I broke my collarbone, my leg, and three ribs. When I was in the hospital they put me on narcotics, and suddenly everything was just better. I didn't feel isolated or lonely. That's where I met my wife. She was so happy. And dumb. And I was... smart... and miserable. You tell me who the genius is. I fell in love with her, buzzed out of my head, and I knew I wanted to stay that way forever.
(Esteban Powell as James Sida in Ignorance is bliss, House M. D., 6th season)

It is not for the faint-hearted, indeed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Quoting Favorites II (or: on Laughter)

"Because he knows you have to laugh at the things that hurt you just to keep yourself in balance, just to keep the world from running you plumb crazy
(One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey)

"He knew you can’t really be strong until you can see a funny side to things."
(Ibidem)


Again, top 3 books.

That laughter, that was exactly what Chief Bromden needed. He was entrapped in the fog of his creation, where everything was heavy and mostrous - where he was small and weak himself.
It took this laughter - this laughter that filled up the silences and voids and shook the room with it - to get him out of there. To make him realize he was actually one of the biggest and strongest guys around. To make him be able to run again.

"If you can't laugh at yourself, life's gonna seem a whole lot longer than you like.
(Natalie Portman as Sam in Garden State)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Raining

We're always learning. Ooops, cliché alert!
Well, what I've learnt this week is that I need to learn (wow, isn't that repetitive?!) how not to give a crap.
Why?
Raindrops are falling on my head/ But that doesn't mean my eyes will soon be turning red/ crying is not for me/ Cause/ I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining/ Because I'm free/ Nothing's worrying me.
(Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, B. J. Thomas)
Right on the money.
The rain always, always falls -  how we face it depends entirely on us.
(Credits to M. H., for a great metaphor.)
Somedays we're just not in the mood - we're all dressed up, our hair nicely done, and we don't wanna get wet. We do, and then we get pissed.
Somedays we're in the right mood for that - we see the first raindrops battering agaisnt the windowpane, and we rush out the door, parched for some rain. Gettting wet is all we wanna do then (no pun intended, please).
Somedays we're neither here nor there - and then we think "screw this, I'm already wet, I'm gonna fuck" (pun intended). If life gives you a lemon... you know how the chorus goes. Getting wet, whether we like it or not, that's life. However, we seek shelter from it nonetheless. And that's what relationships are: a shelter from the rain, when it's pouring down.
But shelters are built by human hands, are they not? Just like everything that is human, they're weak. They, too, leak; and we get wet.
At such a time we have two options ahead of us: we can either get pissed all over again, and not forgive our shelter for having failed us so - or we can remind ourselves that, had we built it, it might've been just as weak, and allow others to make mistakes as well. And not give a crap about being wet.
Not giving a crap makes us much, much lighter. Being soaked - to your very bones - and not giving a tiny little rat's ass... talk about freeing.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Going IV

(...)
He stood there, hiding his face against the door frame. He couldn't go. He didn't feel as if he were strong enough to stay, nor weak enough to leave.
As if he wasn't strong enough to leave, nor weak enough to stay.
He turned around to look at her once more. And as he felt his head spinning, he picked up the bouquet he'd dropped on the floor. Slowly, he walked up to her, watching while she kneeled and punched the floor with all her might, as if it had wronged her terribly. She stood up suddenly, and he took the last steps really carefully, lest he should scare her away. He touched her lightly on the shoulder, and she turned around, slowly, puzzled to be tenderly touched. Their eyes met.
She did not show any emotion, and he tried to do the same, not to betray any signs of desperation. He offered her the flowers, in silence.
"C'mon Jean... Take the flowers. Just... take them. Please..." The words echoed within, without ever finding their way out. She looked at him, big eyed - and started backing away from him, shaking her head in an insanely slow, persistent manner, her eyes insistently glued to his. She knew him; and yet, she knew him not. As she withdrew, he shook his head as well, in complete synchrony with her, in complete denial. Suddenly, he threw the flowers on the floor, while he pulled her close to him with the other hand. And with both of them, he wrapped her in his arms.
She grasped at his back, as if trying to return the embrace, but having only a vague idea of how to do it. 
He buried his face in her hair, miserable. And the smell of it... He'd never forgotten it - now he knew he never would.
So that, right there, that was despair.
She moved in his arms, trying to break free from the embrace he'd longed for. He didn't want to let go - and suddenly, she seemed to have lost all her strength, she felt like a rag doll in his arms. But she fought so clumsily he had no option but to let her go. She buried her face in her hands, hiding behind her hair; always without a sound.
He looked at her, then looked away, utterly lost. But when he looked back at her, it was just in time to catch her fall: the minute she took her face out of her hands, she had such lack of will of her own that she'd let gravity pull her down. He tried to drag her back to her bed, but instead, she threw herself on the floor, reaching for the flowers; she grabbed them, thrashing them against the floor so desperately they crumbled.
And the look, the pain on her face... it was just too much for him to bear.
He strode across the room, and in a moment he was looking out the only window there was. He leaned on the window sill, feeling weak, his breathing heavy and his eyes burning. He...
She was... running? Before he'd fully understood what she was doing, she threw herself on him, holding him from behind with all the pathetic strength in her weakened arms. He startled, and tried to loosen himself from her hold, taking large desperate steps, dragging her along - but she wouldn't let go. As he moved, her grip slid from his waist to his left foot. And the more he moved around, roughly, but never hurting her, the more she'd hold on to him, crying, silently.
He fell. She finally released him, and he stayed right there on the floor. He wouldn't...
She ran towards him once again, and he got up on one knee to catch her, but instead, she climbed his right shoulder. With the greatest of ease, he stood up with her on his shoulder, he'd carry her to her bed - but immediately she was somewhat slowly diving towards the ground once again. He slowed her fall even more, and she landed softly on the cold tiles. She lay there motionless for a split second, wrapped around her wrinkled gown, before she started pulling him, trying to get him on the floor by her side. He resisted as delicately as he could, trying instead to pull her back up - she let go of his hand, got up, and made a dash to the window.
She was going to jump.
He caught her midair, she didn't fight. He brought her back to the ground, and safe to his arms again. She seemed to feel that embrace more than she'd done before, she seemed to enjoy it.
Nurse. Visiting time was over.
She freed herself from his arms, and fought the Nothing again, frantically. He couldn't look at it anymore, but could do nothing else but look. He wouldn't cry...
He stole away.
...Unless he had his eyes open.

He's an adorable old man now, with a sweet smile and melancholy eyes. He came back home 40 years ago from the war. His parents have been dead for 10 years, and he misses them. He's got no wife nor children, no one to leave behind.
Except the quiet old woman at the institution, with no smile, big eyes and aquiline nose. The quiet old woman he visits every Sunday between 3 and 4pm.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Updating

Why are people always so obsessed with the new? Don't get me wrong, I love the new - but I just wish it was optional, instead of inevitable. I hate inevitability.



Microsoft came up with Windows 7 cus Windows Vista sucks big time, period. Ok, I get that. But... why did they come up with Windows Vista, when Windows XP works so damn fine?

Why can't we just get on with the old?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Celebrating (?)






Really? Already? Damn, it's time to go home. If only I knew where that was.

"There is a feeling/ That you should just go home/ And spend a lifetime/ Finding out just where that is"
(Cathedrals, by Jump Little Children)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quoting favorites I (or: On Missing)

"Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody"
(The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger)

Top 3 ending, for sure. And obviously, top 3 book.

And so very true.

It also led me to my Emptying post. "I wonder where all those people have gone"
We stop wondering a while, don't we? We have to let people fade away from our lives. We stop wondering, and we stop missing them. It's necessary.
How sad.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Going III

(...)
They opened the door, he entered. His heart gave a leap: there she was.
He would've been able to spot her silhouette anywhere, anytime. His hands had known that figure just once, but so completely it'd been enough. And if he hadn't been able to see it, he'd felt its presence from miles.
There was her hair falling over her shoulders, in startlingly fair curls, and her aquiline nose. She was standing by the window, looking at the opposite wall. Completely still in her blue hospital gown, she'd not seen him yet.
He gave the first steps towards her, with a ready smile on his lips - and stopped. She was stretching out her arms into the nothing with great painful effort, trying to make that suffocating nothingness not close in on her. She shook her legs in a frenzy, as if trying to release them from invisible shackles.
Still not moving he watched her, as she curled up on herself, clutching her heart, and all of a sudden, stretched out her arms again, this time towards Heaven. She clutched her heart once again, jerking her head up and down and then stopped, as if she were tired. She remained perfectly still, staring at her right hand, one inch from her face, knees slightly bent and an empty look on her face.
That was his fault. If he hadn't crashed, if they hadn't sent the "lost in action" letter to his family... now he'd never be able to make amends for that. No one would.
He turned to go away.
(...)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Going II

(...)
He'd droped by the florist first. After all, women always appreciated flowers, regardless of their condition. And she'd always loved sunflowers. He didn't even know how to get there - he'd never known, never needed to. Knowing your way down there was for the less fortunate, category he had never belonged to - until now.
The starched buttoned white shirt, the black tie, the bouquet and the address given earned him a commiseration look from the cab driver - look from which he shrinked away, painfully conscious of the sentiment he was liable to awaken in others. But it did not matter in the end, so long as he got to see her. So long as she got to see him alive, back. He was positive her pain would instantly fade away once she saw him.
Narcisistic? No. He just knew it. Because it would be the same with him. If he were in the same situation, he was certain the very sight of her would make it all go away.
He handed the money, not really knowing what he was doing, completely hipnotized by the size of the building. He mentioned her name at the reception, and the girl at the counter looked at him with a glimpse of recognition, as if she'd always known whom he was. As if able to read his mind, the girl answered the non-formulated question: Jean had mentioned him time after time. Everyone there knew him by his name.
Unsure of how that made him feel, he followed her through a series of long white overly clean corridors. The girl left, after showing him to a room furnished with some comfortable-looking chairs, a couple of cream-coloured couches and people just as well-dressed as he was.
With somewhat of a hesitant look at his surroundings, he sat down on the chair closest to the door, while the words "letter", "lost in action" and "mental" whirled around his head incessantly.
(...)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Begging (be it for mercy or for a chip!)

Now who will say life doesn't indeed imitate art?

"So You Think You Can Dance", 2008:



Video captured by a callous and/or insomniac neighbor, 2009:



You bang on that door, sister!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Going

Being alive was nothing. At least, being alive someplace else was nothing. This place, here, this was where being took shape and conveyed a meaning to him. He was finally back.
He ignored the shrill in his spine, as the remembrance of his plane crashing crossed his mind once again. The despair of not having his cries for help listened to, that blue wilderness drawing dangerously close, being utterly alone, looking at her picture and knowing he would never see her again. Never again hold her in his arms, wrap her, shelter her.
Being stranded from everything and everyone he knew, lost in a foreign land unbeknownst to the enemy, always in hiding, always alert, forever in fear.
But then, all of a sudden, they'd won. Just like that.
He'd gotten his decoration, oh yes! But his true award was finally being able to come home. He was finally going back to life. To her.
He'd lost the count of the days, once lost. It wasn't until his being rescued that he found out: seven months. Top it off with the other six months in the Air Force... But then he'd had the comfort of her letters, whereas in the East...
He shrugged it off: why focus on that now? He was going. His parents had been duly notified, and his "lost in action" rectified. He then wrote a letter, telling them the day and the time of his train. And with that, a private letter to her, bearing the same good tidings. She knew he was going back to her, just as he'd promised.
***
Oh, that the human hand could becomingly describe the joyous tears of the reunion! With what abandon and candour were them shed! The pain of losing your son can only be surpassed by the incomparable blessing of having him back from the sea deities! Their happiness seemed endless, and it tears one apart to tell that it was not so.
He had to go to her, and bring her there. Only then would his blessings be fully accounted for.
But the other two smiles faded. And with a shattered heart they told him she wasn't there anymore. He stared.
- Why? Where is she?
(...)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Belonging (or: On Fairy-Tales)

A new point of view, a fight, a casual conversation and BANG! There you have it, your idea.
I'd run out of ideas, hence my not writing here for a little while. Hard to be a genius 24/7, after all. But here it is, a new egg has finally hatched.
Speaking of hatching eggs... I assume everyone knows the story of the ugly duckling? It's always been my favorite fairy-tale. I pretty much learnt how to read because of it.
So let's skip the whole narration. My point is: the morale of it all can be well summed up as "never judge a book by its cover", "for beauty is found within". But I also look at it as "birds of the same feather flock together". Literally.
But it's really hard to find your flock, ain't it?...
We never know what we'll grow up to be. And then, not knowing we do not fit in, we try to hang out with whomever's around, and in our not wanting to be alone, we mind not the huge differences between them and us. Heck, we even try to live among those who are drastically different from us, like day and... a sandwich. But their powers of observation do not fail them, they notice it. And they mock you out of their lives. (Ok, that sounds a little like bullying...). They scorn you, and you decide to leave. Henceforth, you'll be alone, for being in society has obviously not worked out well for you.
But you can't help envying the ones who have their pack. Or flock. Or covey, herd, cohort, whichever collective noun comes to your mind. Point is, you ask yourself why everyone seems to have a group where they belong, but not you.


Every other fairy-tale has already approached the subject: when The Beauty and the Beast starts (the Disney version, I mean, let's not get into the original Brother Grimm's tales, they can get rather gruesome...), Belle sings about finding a place where people understand her; in Hercules, the hero sings about a place "where a great, warm welcome will be waiting" for him, where "a voice keeps saying 'this is where I'm meant to be'." And finishes: "I will go most anywhere to feel like I belong". In Mulan, the heroine sings (hell, do they all sing?! Can't they just... I don't know, say it?), about not being able to play the perfect chinese daughter and bride. Not to mention Quasimodo, Victor Hugo's creation, distorted (a huge understatement!) by Disney almost 15 years ago - the hunchback hunted by the entire city of Paris just for being ugly, taking the ugly duckling complex to levels never dreamt before. And Esmeralda, hunted for an even lesser evil, if such a thing is possible: being a gipsy.
But Belle eventually finds ampler horizons; Hercules finally finds out about his olympic origins; Mulan joins the army (!), and gets a bow from the emperor himself. Quasimodo and Esmeralda are finally accepted by the parisian population (do NOT get me started on the humongous distortion here!).
And the ugly duckling, the one who made me all big-eyed and teary as a 5 year-old child, he too gets his happy ending: he gets to be in a flock of swans.


But before finding his flock, he had to adjust to the idea of being alone, and grow comfortable in his own skin.
Well, that sounds about right, given that all fable and fairy-tale animals resemble humans enormously.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wanting (to be)

OneRepublic: not the greatest band in the world - for me, their songs are pretty much all alike; not to mention the stuff frontman Ryan Tedder writes for all those female singers. And they're all alike too, no matter what he says about the whole "Halo x Already Gone" saga (and YES, the songs DO sound the same...). But I gotta say: I love Leona's Bleeding Love.
Anyway: OneRepublic's not the greatest band, nor the most original (And let's face it: Apologize has just been too overtly played on the radio for anyone to even bear the sound of it ever again...); it doesn't matter, I still like their songs - particularly Stop and Stare. The song's catchy, specially the chorus, and I truly enjoy the lyrics. And there's this verse, "You start to wonder why you're here not there", that got me thinking.
So true, isn't it?
We do it everyday: we wonder why this and not that, here and not there, she and not me, there and not here... we're never satisfied with where we are, what we do and who we are. We always want more.
Now that's not so bad! I think one's gotta have ambitions, gotta want to go places, see people and do stuff. I'm right there with ya! Not so keen on the idea on wanting to BE something else, though. Don't ever aim at being someone else. Aim at being a better you, at being good. At least, the best you can be. That's what life is, or should be, all about.

"I want to be good" (Billy Crudup as Fielding Pierce in Waking the dead)

"I want to be a good person" (Johnny Depp as Gibert in What’s eating Gilbert Grape)

(Credits to Iris H. who wrote a wonderful post on that: http://www.hirideyo.com/journal/iris/2009/08/25/good)

Some people say As Good As It Gets is overrated; I don't think so, I think that's a kick-ass movie. And Nicholson's got this line which is downright perfect - and anyone who's ever watched it will know which one it is before even reading it, cus it's just so obvious:
"You make me want to be a better man" (Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall)
Man, that's great! Cheesy? Yeah, totally - so what? Let's not underrate cheesy... still works everytime!
And he who's never had someone that made him wanna be a better man is just a sad person.
I have. I still do. Some have grown apart, some have gone away, some were like a summer breeze, never meant to last, whereas others have come to stay.

I've got this Tuesdays and Thursdays best friend, M.H. (he's my best friend everyday, but he's only available on these specific days, and some lucky Wednesdays, lol). I wish I was as intelligent and sharp as him. While he's a master, I'm still a young padawan with a long way to go...
I wish I was as responsible, intelligent and talented as Tri. Talk about an inspiration.
I wish I was as outgoing and just plain NICE as Na. What a freakingly nice girl! Something hard to come by nowadays, let alone be. She's the real thing.
As sensible and clear-sighted as Ma. Hope it rubs off!
As studious and responsible as Ch.
As calm and collected as G.
As silent, good and firm in his convictions as Canadian M.
As detached from the shallow as these last two.
As perceptive and gentle as Jo.

I just wanna be good.
And most of all, I wanna stop wanting to be and just... be.

Fogging

And people still wonder why I loathe the heat and sun of RJ... would you just take a look at the city I grew up in? Now THAT'S a nice weather!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Answering II

The goal here is to answer these (at times dramatic) questions using only names of songs by ONE singer/band - and without repeating the titles!
Let's see:

Pick Your Artist:
Jewel

Are you a male or female:
Little Sister

Describe yourself:
I'm Sensitive

How do you feel:
Haunted

Describe where you currently live:
The New Wild West

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
Barcelona

Your favorite form of transportation:
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (I've never taken it, but I sure would love to!!!)

Your best friend is:
Fragile Heart

You and your best friends are:
Dreamer

What’s the weather like:
Winter Wonderland

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
I Wonder As I Wander

What is life to you:
Circle Song

Your fear:
Standing Still

What is the best advice you have to give:
Everybody Needs Someone Sometime

How I would like to die:
Sweet Dreams For You

My soul’s present condition:
Deep Water

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Growing Up (or: Down Memory Lane)

















Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hibernating

... will ya?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Emptying

There's a playground close to my house - but, due to my working hours, I've only seen it empty so far. And something about it bothers me beyond description; an empty playground encloses, for me, the saddest of all images: empty swings.
Have u ever seen one? I mean, really SEEN it? Gently swinging to the wind at times, and at others standing still in time, waiting for that which brings meaning to its existence. (But aren't we all?)
Such an image makes me feel hollow - and I absolutely hate it. We're supposed to be feeling beings. But every now and then I feel a complete void. There are certain moments when I feel completely numb, when I try to name that feeling, and only find emptiness in there. I try to grasp at it, and it eludes me.
It always happens when I see empty places. Places that once were not empty, that were once full of me - and now are just... places. Nude of what made me love them.

For example, the door of my building.
Every morning I go out the door and think to myself that never again will G. show up from that direction, riding his bicycle all the way from Laranjeiras just to see me. Wonder how long this morning feeling will last. (Will he be able to ride a bike there?...)

And that classroom, where I teach everyday.
The very same G. will never sit there again, right in front of me, paying attention to my every move, staring at me with those ridiculously drawing green eyes that did not allow me to look at anyone else - except, of course, that I had to; pointedly giving his opinion on just about everything (and, most of the time, blaming it on religion, whatever issue was being discussed at the time). Nor will he make his unexpected jokes with his blazé airs and pale smile. Hope everything works out well for him on the other side of the world. All in all, I think he deserves it (for all of us deserve to find ourselves). L. won't be there as well, standing shyly aside, blushing easily at my jokes, with his wholehearted laughter and opinions-in-formation, given in his perfect English, making me proud at every word uttered. He will, I'm sure, get where he wants to - he just needs to be patient. U know, the whole talk about Rome and how long it did NOT take to be built... S. won't either. (Calling her S. made me feel like in a "Gossip Girl" book/episode...). No more S. with her calm, good-humored, well thought-of opinions - which usually were the exact opposite of G's. Will she go back to England someday? Will she have a child? Will she do well on her Master's?

When I get to work, I gotta pass by M.R.'s office, where she'll never sit again - completely focused on whatever it was she was doing, and yet, capable of answering phones, giving information, telling people off and organizing cards, all at the same time. Making her presence undoubtedly felt, without going through the trouble of saying a single word. Being strict, and loved all the more for that. Being kind and protective of you, if need be. Being a leader like few.
(My lack of belief stops me from believing she's somewhere better. But then again, I do not believe she's nowhere. And my lack of curiosity stops me from wondering where she actually is.)

There's a certain table at work, of which head Na. does not sit at anymore - with her big smile and her cheerful "Wooohoooo!", that both amazed me for its sincerity and at the same time completely drained the little energy I had struggled to pluck up from the very inside of me, in order to teach at 7 in the morning... (lol, if anyone can be fine wherever they are, she's the one! I worry not about her).

Every week I have to drop by my old college. Even though I hate that place now, I used to love it like a home. But everything that made it home to me is also gone. And the good memories I had with them, well, they're all covered in shit now, to be quite honest. Never again will Ni. and I have lunch there - nor wander around the halls, skipping boring classes. Nor will he keep me company while I wait for my bus to Laranjeiras.
(He, too, deserves to be okay - but only after figuring out an awful lot by himself. And I actually doubt he will...)

Speaking of Laranjeiras: there's a certain window from which I won't lean out again - nor my grandma or anyone else in the family. A window which had been in the clan for almost 50 years, out of which all of us were stopped from leaning when toddlers - from my 55 year-old dad to my 11 year-old cousin. (And all of them are just fine, thank u very much. In fact, they're in the most blissed state possible to a human being: ignorance. They do not suffer from TMI. Could they be any better off?)
http://extremosdoassunto.blogspot.com/2009/09/tmi.html

Going down P.A.G. Street is another empty moment, now that J.'s gone. And for me, back then, he was the most important one among them all. (No idea where he is now, he's been to so many places already, in such a little time. But word is he's okay).

And whenever I picture the house I grew up in, the first thing I see is the garage - cute with its red tiles, open and spacious. That was R.'s favorite dwelling. I had only to show up at the other side of the white gate for him to come running like a lightning, all the way from the back of the house, along the garage and straight into my arms, completely dirtying the white t-shirt of my uniform. M. won't open those double doors ever again at the first sound of D.'s car - cus D. does not drive that old piece of junk anymore, and does not park his current one there either (and none of us will ever be quite as okay. Excpet for R., I'm sure he's alright; after all, "All Dogs Go to Heaven").

I wonder where all those people have gone.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Falling

I can't say why it happens only to some people and not to others. Some just have the amazing/saddening capacity of not falling for/being esnlaved by a certain feeling, or thing, thought, person, memory.
It's an inate ability of letting yourself dive so deeply into something that you end up not knowing how to get out of it. Be it to something harmless, such as a certain kind of medicinal tea, or to something a little bit more than that.
It doesn't really matter why it happens - it just matters that it does.

She's the addicted one, whereas he's Addiction itself, holding its grip on her.



They're apart. He's standing there, nothing nor no one in his arms - but they're still wide open to welcome her. And she, who was so far from him, finds herself running desperately towards him, grasping at him. The moment she gets there he smiles, pleased. And starts working his fascination over her. She offers no resistance, and is like a puppet in his hands. After playing with her for a couple of seconds, he grabs her with the greatest of ease, and places her exactly where he wants her.
She has no will of her own so far - she'd wanted that. Take a good look at her face: it shows nothing but weariness.
And she keeps on moving according to his commands; he keeps on smiling, it's just too easy. He places her there, she's standing on the tip of her unbalanced toes, on her weakened legs. When he grabs her once again, she's the picture of despair. She knows she should fight it off - but has not the strength. And he drags her around, working her body at his will; we can barely see her face - does she even have one at this point?
She strived to offer a shadow of resistance - useless, he had her the way he wanted. She gives it up, and he seduces her, feeling the body that is, at that point, completely his.
He embraces his victim, and then silences her. She takes his hands off her mouth. Indifferent, he moves his grip of her to another part of her body. Again, she takes his hands off of her. He insists on holding her - she starts to fight him off, she feels he has too much control over her already. But as she repels him, he keeps coming back. And the few glimpses we can catch of her face are sheer suffering.
At lenght, she tries to run away from him, but he's too fast for her - or perhaps she's become too slow. He immediately grabs her and hurls her. As she's trying to stand up on her own, he's there already by her side, quick and smooth, embracing her. She lets go of his embrace - but falls. It's hard for her to get back on her feet all by herself. She gets up: there he is, time and time again, now making a barrier, so she won't be able to pass. She tries to break it, using the little strength she's got, but it works not. On the contrary: she's the one to bounce back - and he has her again in his arms. He blinds her, as she's struggling to be free. They have a sort of little fight, and she even attempts to strike back at him - though he averts it quite well.
They fall, and stand up right away in perfect synchrony - only to fall on the floor once again, this time from a greater height. They're one and the same.
She tries once more: gets up, and runs. She's trying to resurface, and reaches out. One hand, both hands.
He holds her arm, and stops her. Easily, single-handedly. She won't be able to get out. He smiles.
Her face is Pain.


She loses her balance, but he's there to support her. He's what keeps her from utterly falling at this moment. Always smiling, he grabs her neck and swings her - she doesn't even look alive. Except that she does: she comes back to life once more, and gets herself out - he doesn't let her go, giving her only space enough to move more comfortably. She stretches, he silences her again. She tries to avoid it, but can't, really.
He's one more time grabbing her body, and silencing her. She frees herself from his grip, at last - and leaves him. But he doesn't stop smiling, and leaves his arm the way she's left it: wide open. They're exactly where they started - apart.
He knows she'll be back.


Gravity (Sara Bareilles)
Something always brings me back to you
It never takes too long
(...)
Set me free, leave me be
I don't wanna fall another moment into your gravity
Here I am, and I stand so tall
Just the way I'm supposed to be
But you're on to me, and all over me
I live here on my knees
As I try to make you see that you're
Everything I think I need here on the ground
But you're neither friend nor foe, though I
Can't seem to let you go
The one thing that I still know
Is that you're keeping me down
Keeping me down
You're on to me, on to me
And all over...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Remembering



My favorite book of all time: The Three Musketeers, by Alexander Dumas. My favorite character: Athos, the oldest and most circumspect out of the four. My favorite quote, at the very end of the novel:

"I shall then have no more friends," said the young man. "Alas! nothing but bitter recollections." And he let his head sink upon his hands, while two large tears rolled down his cheeks. "You are young," replied Athos; "and your bitter recollections have time to change themselves into sweet remembrances."

D'Artagnan is the youngest among them, and the most inexperienced in the ways of love, politics and war - that is, life itself. Entangled in his youth, he's mourning everything he's come to lose, category that 2 of his 3 friends are soon to join in - Aramis is going to a monastery (finally), and Porthos is getting married.
And then Athos jumps in with all his wisdom, granted by the gods and enhanced by life, and imparts a little of it. This is a great line, in my opinion; I've always loved it - even when I was too young to understand it to a fuller extent.
Now: even though I've always had to coexist with bitter recollections (just like everyone else, I should say), I think this is the first time that I'm actually coming to realize how true these words are.
For I couldn't remember G.'s face or voice without being either angry or unhappy. And I couldn't remember M.R.'s face or voice without being depressed and feeling like crap.
But today I thought of both - and I smiled.
They're gone, true; but I'm the lucky one who got to have them at all.
It's not bitter anymore, just... bittersweet. Not far from just sweet, is it?

Thank u - to both of u.

I'll sleep tighter tonight.

http://extremosdoassunto.blogspot.com/2009/09/dont-worry.html

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Howling


Gloria
Jewel

Gloria in excelsis Deo
laudamus te
Kyrie eleison
agnus Dei
Gloria

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Christe eleison
laudamus te
agnus Dei
Gloria

Crucifixus et resurrexit
dona nobis pacem
Gloria

Gloria in excelsis Deo
laudamus te
Kyrie eleison
agnus Dei
Gloria

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Christe eleison
laudamus te
agnus Dei
Gloria

Crucifixus et resurrexit
dona nobis pacem
Gloria

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sleeping


Brahm's Lullaby
Jewel


Lullaby and good night
In the sky stars are bright
May the moon’s silvery beams
Bring you sweet dreams

Close your eyes now and rest
May these hours be blessed
‘Til the sky's bright with dawn
When you wake with a yawn

Lullaby and good night
You are mother’s delight
I’ll protect you from harm
And you’ll wake in my arms

Sleepyhead, close your eyes
For I’m right beside you
Guardian angels are near
So sleep without fear

Lullaby and good night
With roses bedight
Lilies o'er head
Lay thee down in thy bed

Lullaby and good night
You are mother’s delight
I’ll protect you from harm
And you’ll wake in my arms

Lullaby and sleep tight
My darlings sleeping
On sheets white as cream
With a head full of dreams

Sleepyhead, close your eyes
I’m right beside you
Lay thee down now and rest
May your slumber be blessed

Go to sleep, little one
Think of puppies and kittens
Go to sleep, little one
Think of butterflies in spring

Go to sleep, little one
Think of sunny bright mornings
Hush darling one
Sleep through the night...


Sleep tight

Monday, August 31, 2009

Sighing


Sometimes It Be That Way
Jewel


[...]
And Romeo was a very nice man
He said "Sweetheart, I don't think you quite understand"
And I'm sorry if you had to explain it like this
Sorry I was a point you were destined to miss
And I'm sorry I spoke to you irreverently
Down in the hollow by the old olive tree
And I'm sorry if my heart breaking ruined your day
Oh well, sometimes it be that way

I said "Oh well, I got nothing left to sell
This love was a bell that rang unheard in the air
I was bound to find out that you didn't care
Oh well, sometimes it be that way"

And Aphrodite with her neon lamp
Kissed Neptune, they put her face on a stamp
And I'm sorry I used it to mail a letter to you
Sorry I'm glue and the rest... bounces off of you
I'm sorry not even this jet's metal wings
Could get across these simple things
And I'm sorry if I ever sang your name in vain
Oh well, sometimes it be that way
[...]

(I will stop bitching about it, I swear! Cross my heart and hope to die!)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stumbling

How come one can climb Everest heights with such a savoir-faire - and yet, sprain their ankles bumping into the curb while crossing the street?

Reminders:
Sir Francis Drake, after crossing half world, helping (?) Queen Elizabeth I defeat the Spanish Armada and taking to England riches beyond imagination, simply died of dysentery in Panama.

Alcibiades was one of the most important Athenians of his time, and had the fate of the polis in his hands more than once; he circulated among Athenians, Spartans and Persians, toying with their trust and hopes, playing the warmonger and hero at the same time, selling one to the other in a never-ending fashion - only to die surrounded by some petty road thieves.

Achilles, the greatest Greek like, ever, did it all - confronted the king of the kings, refused to fight over a silly issue (ok, I know, there was the whole honour thing, he couldn't just let Agamemnon do whatever he felt like to him), cried a river over the death of his lover/best friend Patroclus, had Hephaestus (only one of the Twelve Olympians) do a whole new armour for him, scared poor Hector - the greatest Trojan - out of his mind and dragged his dead body all around the walls of Troy, mercilessly. He was even portrayed by Brad Pitt! Aaaaand, how did he die? Oh yeah: from an arrow. Shot from very afar. By the most gutless Trojan, namely Paris. Aimed at his heel. [sighs...]

Henry VIII changed England's history forever; he received the title of Protector of the Faith by Pope Clement VII; he turned his country topsy-turvy with his love for Anne Boleyn, his wife's lady-in-waiting; broke up with the Roman Catholic Church just so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry the damn girl - sending her some years later to execution; married another, who died; married a forth, whom he divorced; married a fifth, whom he had executed (just as her cousin Anne Boleyn!); married a sixth, who was only spared from execution through his death. Wives galore! Meanwhile, not satisfied in marrying, divorcing and executing all of them, he still made war to this and that country, and had to supress here and there the influence of the Protestant religion in his domains. His death? Some historians regard it as having been from syphilis, whereas others consider it was probably diabetes. Either way, a silly way to go.

It's just ludicrous to climb so high and stumble over such trifles, isn't it?...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Diving III

So: who will take me to the hospital this time?

Okay, a grasp on reality: I've had way more serious... I've already had a head trauma that threw me into a coma, and another that almost bought me a way-one ticket. So quit the drama. This one's just a lump.
BUT: what's the use in comparing "all the cuts and bruises"? (Hello my job! Get out of my head!) What are u trying to get from it, see which one hurt more? Is there a prize for this shit or something? In the end, it doesn't really matter that u've had worse in the past - why, this freaking lump hurts now!

Lumps in the head can bother one for a really long time. I have a baaaad feeling about this one.

I wish I stopped going to the hospital so often, goddamn it...

(And I do wish I didn't have this stupid philosophy of "keep on diving"... Good God, what was I thinking... damn... Hate this "seize the day" thing I've got...)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Living (ever after)

I love television. Just love it. Don't get me wrong, I'll take a book instead of... anything, even human contact, anytime of the day... But I do love tv shows. I also love dancing (I'm not the best at it, but I still love it). Both of these loves led me to watch So You Think You Can Dance.
For those who don't know it, SYTYCD is a reality show with the purpose of finding America's favorite dancer.
Well, I was watching the performances last week, and there was this one that caught my eye in a way that no other did. These two dancers, Jason (to whom I was pretty much indifferent, and he's left the show already) and Jeanine (for me, the best female dancer there is this season) peformed this routine, which I thought amazing and gorgeous. And the story behind it is: they're two childhood friends, like, best friends since forever, but they find themselves attracted to each other; now, they don't know if they should risk it all and take it a step further. Though really wanting to, they're not sure whether they're ready for it. It's a dance, in other words, about the obstacles they gotta face in order to be together - that is, themselves.



Gods, I could watch that non-stop. Absolutely loved it! I love the way she throws herself in his arms, with total disregard for herself. And I love how, in the end, she's just unable to resist, and pulls him closer. U know, whenever I watch it, I find myself rooting for them (the characters) to be together! No wonder, it IS a story after all. Just a very short musical one. And as it finishes, I have a smile on my face, glad they're finally "together". Yeah, I know... it's not real! Whatever.
But that got me thinking: and after?
But nobody wants to hear about that, do they? After all, one can't keep on reading the same book forever, or watching the same movie. We gotta put it down some time, leave the movie theatre eventually. So, the story's gotta stop at some point - and what moment would be better than when the hero and the heroine finally get together, after all their troubles?
But doesn't anyone ever wonder what happens after? Cus I do after this dance; "will they make it?".
Take Romeo and Juliet, for instance. One of the most famous love stories in the world - if not THE most famous. (As for me, I've never been a huge fan... I like the poetry in the lines themselves rather than the story. I always found both of them rather stupid... let's not go there, though...). But let's face it: when the play starts, Romeo's talking to Friar Laurence about his eternal love for what's-her-face. Rosaline. And the good friar is reproaching him, saying that, before Rosaline, there were other girls to whom Romeo'd also sworn undying love, and accuses him of being an inconstant lover. Juliet, on her turn, has never seen a man except those from her close family. Get the picture?
I mean, c'mon! Do we really think it's gonna work out between the two of them, in case they survive?! Get real... and it's much better for Romeo to die, cus he'd be in endless trouble if he deflowered the little Capulet girl, eloped, and then gave her back to her family cus he fell for someone else, as usual... the Montagues would never hear the end of it...
This is the thing that gets at me: we never know anything about the "ever after". Happily? Maybe not...
And perhaps there's a reason why we know nothing of it: take Othello and Desdemona. When the play starts, they've just gotten married! The whole fight to be together's already over! But the play's not about their fight to marry. It's about their ever after - which, as you may know, doesn't last long. Due to Iago's cunning (u go, boy!), Othello ends up distraught and devoured by jealousy (hence, the whole "It is the green-ey'd monster" line), and eventually strangles the innocent and completely clueless Desdemona to death. Not a happy "after", obviously.
Another famous story is that of Odisseus and Penelope. It takes Odisseus 20 years to get back home after the Trojan War. However, he never gives up, for he desires, more than anything, to go back to his country and wife. Cool, u think. Nevertheless, that doesn't stop him from sleeping with all the Circes and Calypsos he runs into along the way... whereas his faithful wife, Penelope, keeps on weaving the damn burial shroud, and undoing it every night... Some people say it's a story about fidelity - I beg to differ... Anyway: in the end, he and Penelope are finally left alone to have the life they've always longed for. But! When Odisseus was called to fight in the war, he'd just married her; after that, they spent 20 years apart. I mean, he spent 7 years sharing Calypso's bed. That's much more than he'd ever had with his own wife. He doesn't even know her that well, nor his only son. It's not his fault, of course, but still! After all this time, what kind of life will they have together? They're not in the prime of life anymore, u know... but of course, Homer wasn't interested in telling us that. But it's definitely something to think about...
The same goes for Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, the main characters of Love in the time of Cholera. Florentino and Fermina had been sweethearts when they were young, but were separated by her father. Well, check this out: the rejected lover spends the next 50 years waiting for Fermina's husband to die (and no, he doesn't do ANYTHING whatsoever to speed up the process... talk about being passive...). As expected, her husband Juvenal eventually dies, leaving Fermina a widow - and that's when Florentino makes his move, and after some wooing he manages to get her back. Problem: they're almost 80 now. They know very little about each other. Again: how will their life be? Gabriel García Márquez doesn't dare going there either. Too bad. Like I said: most stories, no matter how good they are, become extremely cliché if they choose not to tell us about the "afterwards".
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice. He owns half of.. what's the county? Derbyshire. He's ridiculously rich; Elizabeth, however, is the 2nd daughter from a relatively poor gentleman. Her mother is rather vulgar, just as the two younger daughters, always running after soldiers and making fools of themselves - under whole heartedly consent of their mother. Elizabeth and her eldest sister Jane are actually the only ones poised in that family. So, Elizabeth herself will be able to hold her own beside that fantastic husband, effortlessly, methinks. But the unlucky Mr. Darcy will, in fact, have to put up with Lizzie's family, including Wickham, Lizzie's youngest sister's husband - just the guy Darcy hates the most in the whole wide world... great family he's marrying into! Well, to me, that sounds like drama drama drama! The book ends, but there's still shitloads of story to be told! How will dashing Mr. Darcy cope with all of that???
A classic story is, everyone knows this one, Cinderella. Man, the girl was a maid! A freaking maid turned into a princess! Do we actually believe she'll be able to pull it off? Just like Pretty Woman. It's all very well for Richard Gere to go after the adorable Julia Roberts with a rose in his lips. Every girl's dream. But let's face it: she was a whore. She was really beautiful and gracious, but uneducated and completely not used to that life style. Gere will have to go through the trouble of educating his new wife... that's got all the potential to be something beyond his patience and skills... but, once again, we haven't got a clue as to their trying to fit into each other's lives.
Aha! But there's a very clear example of this situation in real life: Lady Di. Well, she wasn't a peasant or anything, she did have royal descent - and she certainly lived up to the title of Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales. But that, apparently, was only in the opinion of the public and the media. According to herself, "My husband made me feel inadequate in every possible way that each time I came up for air he pushed me down again ...". Call me crazy, but that does not sound in the slightest like a woman happily married... Her fairytale wedding was only that: a fairytale wedding, never converted into a happy marriage.
I'd like some story teller to talk about the marriage, and not the wedding.
Now, let's talk business. Dying for love. The Lady of the Camellias: Marguerite Gautier. She's a cortesan who falls in love with Armand Duval, a middle class man, who cannot afford to support her in the ways she's used to. That's ok, though, she doesn't mind it, she really wants to be with him; besides, she's got more important things in mind, u know, with her having tuberculosis and all... eventually, Armand's father, unbeknownst to his son, talks Marguerite into leaving her lover, for that infamous relationship's destroying the boy's reputation. In order to prove her love, she agrees to that, breaking Armand's heart. Well, after many (successful) attempts of Armand to hurt and humiliate his former lover, she dies from her long-suffered disease, alone and penniless. After her death, Armand gets hold of her diary, in which he finally learns about her undying love for him and her TB. Wow, that must've been a little embarassing for him... We don't know what happens to Armand after that. We should. We should know of his suffering, of how he's gonna live with himself.
Lolita Pille, writer of Hell, agrees with me. Hell is this girl from the highest French society; she sees life around her as it really is: desperately empty. She tries to fill that void inside her, with no success - she uses all the existent drugs and has sex with a whole bunch of guys. She's got this inexplicable need of dirtying, hurting herself... until she meets Andrea. He's absolutely gorgeous and fabulously rich, and has never fallen for anyone. Until, of course, he meets Hell. They have this fantastic interlude of 6 months, during which they had eyes only for each other, and lived away from all that chaos and emptiness they'd been drowning in. However, Hell's need of tearing herself apart comes back, and it leads them both into the pit. She can't stand dragging Andrea down that path with her, so she breaks it up. We learn, in Andrea's narration, that he didn't mind hitting rock bottom, as long as he had Hell by his side. We learn of his desperation after she leaves him. And just when he's finally decided to try and get her back, he dies in a car accident. And we also learn of Hell's desperation after his death. Yeah, that's right! Lolita Pille gives us the opportunity of peeping into the nothingness Hell's now thrown into. She gives us the "afterwards", the real epilogue: Hell continues doing all the things she used to before knowing Andrea. She needs to hurt herself more than never now. And this is her speech (it's quite long, hence my cuts):
"We don't know what happens to Armand afterwards. We don't know whether he manages to forget Marguerite. What he does to tolerate life, when the one he loves dies. [...] What if Armand has gone crazy? What if he's died of grief?
None of that. I know the continuation. Armand goes every night to the Queen [a nightclub Hell goes to]. He drowns his pain in vodka. [...] And thinks of the one he's lost. Armand has discovered cocaine and stuffs his nose with it 24/7. And thinks of the one he's lost. Armand doesn't know how to cry anymore. Because crying relieves the pain, and he doesn't want to feel relieved. [...] He'd like, most of all, to kill himself, to blow his brains out, once he has no more reason to live. But he also doesn't have the guts. He's a chicken, a miserable coward. He's incapable of letting go of this abominable existence, he'd rather live in the worst possible way. Armand is an alcoholic, a drug addcit and a suicidal. Oh, but you don't have to worry about him. He won't last very long, and he, too, will die. From an overdose, from a car accident, from a stab in an alley, from an incurable disease... He'll see the smile again only to say goodbye. [...]"
(I apologize once again, it's my own translation from the Portuguese version - which, by its turn, was translated from French).
This answers my question of why Alexandre Dumas, fils, doesn't talk about Armand's ever after.
Relationships, of any kind, are all about the "ever after", not the "before". It's about reminding ur partner and urself why u'r together, why u love each other. Have u ever seen 50 first dates? Drew Barrymore has lost her short-term memory, and her new boyfriend, Adam Sandler, has to win her heart all over again every single day. Cute and all - but the metaphor's clear. U gotta fight for ur partner everyday - not because ur relation may be in danger if u don't do so, but because he/she deserves it. Having a relationship demands taking care, talking things out, and not letting the sun set upon an argument.
Relationships are, in the end, all about this:





It's about making up everyday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coloring

The sun rises, and I with him everyday. As the Sun's sister Dawn, the one with rosy fingers, golden arms and saffron-colored robe, opens the gates to let her brother out and herself in, I move toward the bus stop. And every morning, as the bus slowly speeds up, I can spot the deep blue of the ocean, the delicate blue and white of the sky, and the golden white of the sand on the beach. It's a vision. One thing that ruins it for me, though, is seeing a bunch of pidgeons scattered around the beach, pecking after the remains of food left behind by callous bathers. And that morning was no exception.

Until it was, of course.

Amongst all those black and grey city pidgeons, I spotted all of a sudden a smaller, very white, one. And the bus, as if it were acceding to my silent request, stopped. (Ok, it was picking up more passengers, but still...). I could take a longer look at the birds - the white one in the very center of the confusing, ever-moving, circle. They co-existed peacefully, none seeming to care that one of their own didn't quite fit in, as far as color went, in an extremely "I have a dream" fashion. I was marvelled. Yes, one could always argue that birds don't really care about colors, but that's not the point anymore. And I thought to myself that pidgeons, too, had black sheep. Only, theirs was white.
And the image of the white black sheep tormented me for the rest of the day.

And then, there are the doves. They're supposedly white and that doesn't seem to bother anyone. But why would a white pidgeon bother me so? Doves can be white, but not pidgeons? Would that be it? Why? They're practically the same bird!
Easy one: pidgeons are dirty birds - hence, cannot be white, the cleanest of the colors. Whereas doves, just as white, symbolize peace. It all falls back into place now.

Or does it?

Why does white have to necessarily symbolize cleanness and peace? What if I wanna use it to show anger? Or love? Or rotteness? Where do these frozen-in-time symbols come from? Many are obvious: red goes for blood cus blood IS red (until is starts getting maroon, than brown-ish...); green goes for ecology cus the color of "healthy" leaves is green - a priori, it depends on the plant. Yellow is for the sun - I agree in part with that one... the sun is much brighter than yellow per se. But others... there is no explanation whatsoever for some of them! Who was the first person who said: "Hmmm... I'm gonna use red to show passion!" or "Oh yeah, blue's DEFINITELY for sadness!"?

Green's always been the color of jealousy. Though this notion is as old as time itself, the first print there is on it is Shakespare's:
Iago: "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy; It is the green-ey'd monster, which doth mock The meat it feeds on." (Othello, Act III, Scene III)
Jealousy: a monster? Yeah. Green? Apparently, yeah, but why? It could be any other color! Besides, jealousy can be said to be a way to show passion or love - both unanimously represented by red. Than why green, I repeat? Also: green may show envy as well.

I love colors; but they're all wrong! Yellow and orange depress me, too much pink leaves me in a bad mood, my anger is much whiter than red, my jealousy's red and blue's the one I think of when I'm happy.

Give a coloring book to a 6 year-old child. He/she will paint the trees green, sometimes they'll bother to paint the trunk brown and the leaves green, but many will paint the whole thing green and move on. The sky and the sea will be blue, the clouds white, and the sun yellow. Good.
Now give the same coloring bok to a 3, 4 year-old child. What a freaking mess that'll be! The sky might turn out pink, the trees could totally be yellow, the sun blue, the sky purple and so on. Some helping, understanding, know-it-all adult will eventually correct the child, gently pointing out that the "right" colors are not those he/she used. So much for creativity. And we still wonder why people are so mediocre nowadays.

You know what I love? Seeing those stupid stereotypes tumbling down. Red is the color of anger. Yeah, ok, try telling that to The Hulk!

This guy transforms into THIS when he's angry! He's not jealous, envious or particularly prone to defending the environment. Just plain angry.
Yellow is the color of happiness. But there was this Dutch guy in the 19th century that could paint his ear off; one day, he decided to paint some sunflowers. Cool, you think, sunflowers are so cheerful! Specially because they're yellow! Now, the painting's called "Still life in a vase with 12 sunflowers".

Happy, aye? Talk about cheerful and lively.

Shy people get really red when they're in the spotlight. Either red or pink. And for those people, we have the expression "as red as beet". Ok, except for one tiny little teensy weeny detail. Wee really... beets are purple!


And though some people take this "color stereotype breaking" thing too far...

...it's usually a relief!

People generally don't like grey, they think it's either too sad or serious. What about the grey area, where nothing's ever black nor white? My favorite place in life, there's nowhere I'd rather be.
One of my greatest friends only wears dark colors. Black, brown, dark blue and grey. It's not her creed, she's not gothic or anything, she just doesn't like light colors, end of story. But the other day, as we strolled around the shopping mall, she laid eyes on this gorgeous dress on a window shop. It was her style, through and through, it was meant to be hers! They only had it in two colors: pink and grey. I was like, yay, great, her color alright! She immediately bought the grey one. And yet... she couldn't take her mind off the pink one. She asked me about it, then she asked some other people about it, thought it over and over again in her head... in a nutshell: she came back and proudly purchased the pink dress. And u know what? It looked great! For me, she looked better in pink than in grey. She still felt awkward in it, but I was happy inside: another never-changing thing tumbling down right in front of me eyes.

In the end of the day, the world's just a huge coloring book. Life's all about being a 4 year-old.