Friday, September 28, 2012

Winter to Spring


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Early Realizations



Part two. What is fact versus fabrications, though, is something we may never truly know.

~~~

Early Realizations

I stood inside in the small apartment, my curly hair a short mess, my hands held onto the screen door, and I stared out into the street. I pressed my head into the screen and marveled at the poor neighborhood gleam. A stretch of dirt and mix of concrete sat in the front lawn. The narrow street divided the small apartment complex from the other side of the road. The entire site looked beautiful to toddler me. Beautiful, mysterious, colorful, and with a call for adventure.

I stood in my underwear inside the small apartment wishing I could be outside and ready for an adventure. All the meanwhile, I also stood in the middle of a red ant trail. Obviously, the ants thought of me as an intruder, and they bit me. I cried. I can't remember crying for my mother or crying for anyone. But, I do remember that I cried and continued to stare at the street.

That's when we lived on Calle de Amor, literately Love Street. We didn't live there for long and I can't remember other details of my first few years, but who can? Toddlers don't generally remember these things. There are stories, though. More fabrications.

According to my mother and older sister, they would catch the bus coming from Mexico and take it into downtown for groceries. My older sister would have to carry me, while my mother did the grocery shopping. Then they'd get back onto the bus and walk to the small apartment complex.

There's a vague area between the love my sister had or has for toddler me and the reality of things. Same with my entire family, actually. My father isn't in any of the memories of living on Calle de Amor, but I loved him. Because, I loved everyone as a kid. But did anyone really love me? The answer is yes, the evidence can be sketchy.

This evidence is the basis for the larger story of me. The essence, the reality behind what could be me. We will examine clinical reality, three perspectives from family folklore, and a fourth hypothetical perspective. It's what my younger sister and I dub as “the mystery of my birth,” the creation of Sarai.

Clinically, I was born in 1988, Saturday the 30th of January at 6:44AM. I am the first daughter of my father and the first granddaughter to my Grandmother Reyna. I am the second daughter to my mother and the fifth granddaughter to my Grandmother Manuela. My mother was 34, my father was 24, and my older sister was 9 at the time of my birth.

At the time of my birth, I already had the expectation to be a proper Mexican woman from my Grandmother Manuela. Also, because I was the daughter of my father, I also had more expectations to not be anything like my father. I am the first American granddaughter to my Grandmother Reyna with the expectation to rise into the American dream and help my family in Mexico. Spoiler, I'm not anything what my family expected me to be.

I was born a tiny six pound baby and then life happened. The first perspective, as relayed by my grandmother, my mother would abandon me in my crib and let me cry forever, stay hungry, and let myself soil myself.

The second perspective, as relayed by the collective point of view of my mother and older sister, is that I was adored. I was adored in the manner that my older sister would help look after me as if I was her new doll.

The third perspective, and more of an undebatable family story, I was just a baby doing baby things then suddenly a wild fever appeared and I got sick. I was rushed to the hospital, doctors used a ton of IV on me; sickness. Then science made me better, and I lived through the fever and everyone always commented that if it weren't for science (or God or whatever) I would have had brain damage.

Brain damage. Bringing brain damage into a little kid's formative years just makes for a very impressionable kid. “Did you see what Sarai did? Yeah she's so amazing for a little kid who almost had brain damage.” So little Sarai made sure to do amazing things for a little kid because she was special.

Family folklore mentions that I had meningitis. A quick trip to Wikipedia paints a very dirty picture of what meningitis is. A deeper Google search brings up a horrifying picture of meningitis in infants. Common causes of meningitis are viral or bacterial infections of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. Viral is apparently less deadly; bacterial is serious and may result in death or brain damage even if treated. Symptoms usually escalate quickly and may include: fever and chills, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headache, stiff neck, and mental status changes.

If you take into account the three perspectives of my birth, then yes. They all sound very plausible and together they paint a very sickening introduction to life. Hypothetically, if you add the following perspective, you get a more accurate depiction of the essence of who I am.

You're a tiny six pound baby hanging out in your crib. Your older sister thinks you're cuter then any doll she's ever owned. Well yeah, you have the cutest curliest hair ever. Just hanging out, then you have an urge for something. Food, water, hug, change of diaper? It doesn't matter, because you're a baby and you can't communicate these things. So you cry. Then cry some more. Just for theatrical effects, you pause in your crying to cry louder.

You're not anything special you're just a baby. But, all of a sudden you're crying for more than just food, water, hug, or change of diaper. There's something on the back of your neck. Then, Oh God, you're gurgling. Gurgling delicious food you need to survive, gurgling and vomiting. Are you aware of your mother's hand on your back as she gurgles you?

Nah, you think you're in some multidimensional space where you're not a baby anymore you're a mess of neurons and figments of your baby self. You never really liked having your eyes open in your past baby life, but then you refuse to open your eyes because it hurts more. Convinced, that you don't know what this 'hurt' thing is you cry louder. Then there's a pounding in your head. Pounding, tears, gurgling... pain.

Hospital, doctors, new realization of life. Maybe, a part of me changed. The part that led toddler me to the screen door in search of other things. The part that made sure to do amazing things because I am different. The part of me that never fully understood how to leave the shadows of the past and slide into the future.

All those perspectives make me realize that my introduction to life is probably more painful than the pain from the past seven months. I guess the only difference is that I'm aware of the pain now versus then when I didn't really remember it.


~~~
{ Previous - Make it Hurt

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Om Shanti Om



I'm reposting my first collection of anything. The first major project in my young life, a collection of 13 movie reviews. You can say that these movie reviews spawned my hobby of watching movies and sort of "learning" from them.

You can read the entire collection here.

...

Om Shanti Om is not cheap entertainment. It is a wonderful, fun, free spirited, film about a young man who wants to break in as an actor in the booming 1970s Bollywood film industry. I skimmed the Wikipedia article and only retained the first paragraph. This is now a ritual for movies and me. I find that some reviews aren’t really apt descriptions of movies, so I ignore reviews for the most part. Om Shanti Om is the shortest movie of Shahrukh Khan that I’ve seen… and I’ve seen 13.

The movie begins with the infamous black screen, which then centers on a horse-like statue with a voice over actor saying, “Nobody can blow the candle of life which is protected by God Himself.” (Oh my a candle, just like in Devdas.) Then there’s a shooting of a television show and Shahrukh Khan among the crowd of small time actors. His hand is in the air, trying to catch the singing, lead actor’s jacket, and you can see the Om symbol tattooed on his wrist.

Om, the character that he plays, is a big dreamer. He goes off into a daydream where he is the star. It’s a nice dream that ends at the beginning of the opening song. Poor Om wants to be a superstar and Bollywood hero. After the shoot Om and his friend Pappu discuss Om’s dream. According to Pappu, the only thing stopping him from attaining his dream is his name. If his name wasn’t Om Prakash Makhija he’d probably be a super star like his idol Rajesh Kapoor.

Pappu then states: “Now get rid of this Makhija and try changing your name to ‘Kapoor’ or ‘Khanna,’ then see, how your life takes off in one shot!”

“You’re Right Pappu!” Om, replies and then shakes his head, “I would have changed my name today itself.”

“But?!”

“But you know what Mom will say!” Om, closes his eyes and sticks his fingers into his ears while the scene changes to his mother screaming.

“Noooooo!” Then she dramatically adds, “Oh My Lord! What am I hearing? My darling son wants to change his name! I ask you what is wrong with your name? Om stands for the Lord and Prakash for Light, and..”

“And,” Om replies, “Makhija! Makhija stands for shooing a fly away! I can tolerate ‘Om’ and ‘Prakash’. With a name like Makhija, I will never become a hero! Never!”

Om’s mother reassures him that, yes of course; he will definitely become a hero one day. Because her heart says so. A mother’s heart says so. This brings up a very cool point Om’s father and mother were both junior artistes, and Om’s father died a Junior Artiste. Om thus runs off to meet his girlfriend over the bridge: Shanti.

Shanti is an artist who just released a new film. Her picture stands on a billboard over the bridge and Om “talks” to her as if she can reply and understand him. Just like the previous film I watched, this one too follows the story arch of a Mexican Soap Opera (actually, before I get redundant… all the films follow the story arch of a Mexican Soap Opera).

That evening, as Om and Pappu stand outside the ‘red carpet,’ Shanti’s sari latches onto Om’s string bracelet that his mother tied on him to fulfill his wish to meet Shanti. Om then “meets” Shanti as she tries to untangle his bracelet from her. Then, Om and Pappu steal tickets to watch the premier of Shanti’s new film, claiming they’re an actor. Scenes from older Bollywood films are used to form scenes of the ‘movie,’ on screen. As always, Om fantasizes that he’s in the movie as Shanti’s hero. His fantasy is so out of control that Om begins to dance in the movie theater and has to run out because the cops chase him.

Later that evening Om is drunk and describes his dream of being a wealthy, famous film star to Pappu and some local children. He specifically says:

“I will stay in style! I will have 15-16 imported cars! 50-60 servants will be around me! I will have a luxurious bedroom, just like the one we see in movies with a round bed! And you know Pappu, as soon as I wake up in the morning before my feet even touch the smooth marble floor a servant will slip velvety slippers under them. The other one will be waiting on me with a silk dressing gown. The third one will be standing there to serve fresh fruit juice.”

This scene reminded me of what I used to say as a freshman in college. I had the notion that I was in the right money-making industry, that if I worked especially hard, I could acquire all the monetary items my mind required. And! I would be able to enjoy my three meals in the different parts of the globe, something like breakfast in Paris, lunch in New York, and dinner in Texas. That was a good dream. It didn’t last long, but it was a nice dream.

Nowadays, I don’t think of having all the luxuries money can buy; I only think of owning all the luxuries money can’t touch. I want a house in the middle of nowhere where I can turn my speakers up, where I can walk around outside and be myself, and where I can invite all of my friends who don’t hate each other to spend a weekend, week, or month with me. Also, this house in the middle of nowhere should be near a beach so that I can bask in the sun and listen to the sweet ocean. It’s the same dream; different perspective.

After Om finishes with his dream, Pappu reassures him that yes he will win best actor but for now he wins this “Bottle Award.” To which Om also recites a speech for receiving the “Bottle Award,” from Pappu. Later, at the filming of a new movie Shanti is acting, there’s a fire scene where the hero of the film refuses to jump across the fire to rescue her. Om sees that no one is going to rescue her and rushes to her aid. He saves her in the name of love, even though he receives major burns to his back.

Om finally gets to meet her; she thanks him for saving her, and departs. Afterward he meets her again, he asks for a “dinner,” where they have a wonderful time. At the end of the dinner, Om convinces her to tell her “love,” how much she feels for him. The next day Om discovers that Shanti is married and pregnant. He’s heartbroken, to say the least and can’t even concentrate on his work. In the scene after that Om overhears Shanti’s husband showing Shanti the set to the “Om Shanti Om,” film that they’re working on. However, instead of a happy ending, Shanti’s husband locks Shanti in the set after he lights it on fire. Om tries to rescue her but a band of bullies who work for Shanti’s husband attack him. After losing to the bullies, Om jumps into the burning building but he is unable to save Shanti. An explosion throws him onto the road where Rajesh Kapoor runs him over on the way to the hospital. At the hospital, Om dies and at the same time Rajesh’s son is born.

But, it’s not just his son… it is Om being reborn. Om is given a second chance and becomes the movie hero he wanted to be in his previous life. The rest of the movie deals with Om Kapoor… Om’s reborn self with a scar on the wrist that had the Om symbol and a phobia against fire. Somehow, the new Om revives the memorie of the old Om and it’s like he had a 30 year break in life. In the second half of the film, Om’s goal is to bring justice to Shanti’s death. Which, he does in a very peculiar way with the help of his mother and old friend Pappu.

In short, the movie is fun, sweet, and free spirited with a couple of plot twists and unexpected moments. I spent most of the time waiting for the next song, and trying not to laugh/cringe at the silly and dumb moments. Like the moment before the Dar de Disco, the pain of disco, where Om dances alongside item girls in “hot” or “exotic” choreographies. All through the song, I stared at him, not with a lustful eye… but a curious eye.

Who is this guy? I asked myself. Can he really dance? I continued. Wow, I bet that water scene with the droplets forming a stream down his abs really works on women. Wait a minute, I wrote a similar scene in one of my stories. This guy must be a really big star or something, I wonder what’s up with his dancing. God knows if he can sing, too. He probably can’t.

The entire Dar-de-disco dance sequence doesn’t fit the remaining dances in the film at all. It truly is the “item song” of the film. But, it satisfied the beautiful women and men dancing beautiful choreographies criteria. This happens again in the second most popular song of the film, “Deewangi Deewangi.” By this time though, I’m interested in more than just his dancing. I wanted to see what other movies he had, I wanted to know if his dancing ever got better, and if his acting varied so much. Also, I guess I had a small crush on him. Very small.

The day after I finished watching Om Shanti Om I discussed Shahrukh Khan with my youngest sister. Lately, I talk to her about my newest story ideas, her story ideas, the anime we watch together, and little things like my inability to remember things. Like one time, and she always jokes about it, I exclaimed “I’m hungry.” So, I walked over to the kitchen, stood in front of the closed refrigerator door for a couple of seconds, opened the refrigerator door, my eyes roamed the contents of the refrigerator, I closed the door and walked away from the refrigerator proclaiming, “I’m hungry.”

Yeah, I do dumb things as well as forget things. I know my youngest sister understands me (or tries to make fun of me) but some people really flip a shit when they encounter my half-dazed expression that says: “Shit, I forgot. Let’s try again?” Anyways, I discussed Shahrukh Khan with my younger sister, but I couldn’t really pronounce his name. So, I referred to him as “that guy.” I showed my sister a couple of clips of him dancing and she just shook her head while I smiled on the inside at the clumsy dancing.

It turns out that yes, Shahrukh Khan did dance well in his youth, notably before the 2000s at the start of his career. What happened after that? Well, who really knows I don’t. But, if you watch his documentary/biogrpahical film and it explains what happened to his dancing skills let me know!

There’s a special art to dancing and I used to be acquainted with its secrets. Following the movements to the direction of a choreographer only gets one so far. It’s almost like all creative outlets… you have to be born with the dancing bone. Or, pretend to have the dancing bone. Watching Om Shanti Om and all the beautiful dancing reminded me of my dusty dancing shoes.

I quit dancing my freshman year in high school. I was never a professional dancer, I never learned the names of all the moves, I didn’t dance in public, nor did I ever dance for anyone but myself. Dancing was the tissue that connected my sanity in place while my muse and my neurotic teenage self burned my sanity. Dancing was the outlet in which my semi-flexible younger self connected with God, with the divine, and the energy of the universe.

It made me smile. It made me forget and ignore all the anger, all the arguments, all the bullying, all the worldy nuisances that drove me mad. But, my happiness wasn’t relative to my status in my household. A Mexican woman takes care of the household until her body holds no energy and even after then, if the woman collapses then she’s not a woman at all. That’s what I gathered from my grandmother. Using her as an excuse I quit dancing. I quit the one thing that made me smile. I do a lot of dumb things. But, maybe now that eight years have passed I can appease my dancing shoes.

I put them on the day I wrote this piece for two minutes until I noticed my youngest sister watching me. Those were some pretty two minutes. I stood in front of the large television and watched my blurred reflection on the black LCD screen. My fuchsia shirt and navy blue pants danced in front of me as I began with the simplest merengue steps. One, two, one two, my out of practice feet succumbed to the floor. One, two, three, one-two, three my hips laughed at the air around me.

The slow, riveting, energy transformed from its potential stage to kinetic matter after eight counts and my smile returned. It was shy but it grinned as madly as Om’s did in the film. For two minutes, my fingers grazed upon my former self ’s happiness. This is the core of my love affair with Shahruhkh Khan… it’s a tale of love for life and the scars that motivate me to keep surviving. I can’t claim to know why he inspired me, or what took over me as I watched the rest of the 10 films.

I want to guess that somewhere in my mind he inspired me because our hearts are both loving and steel. But, I don’t know for sure. Like a fan I searched on Youtube for a couple more of his movies. This lead to the third movie Don – The Chase Begins, Again and to a week of Shahrukh Khan films.

...

{ PreviousMy Love Affair... - Next }

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Do you like reading books; watching movies? Have you ever come across a book or movie that inspired you to write about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

MM 24 SEP 2012

Monday, oh we meet again. Today's playlist isn't a finite playlist. It's more of an ongoing playlist. Mostly, because I'm not an overly huge fan of K-Pop. Just a one-or-two-song listener.  Or more like 14 songs.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fabrications



In continuing with my decision to be insane, I'm going to blog "the" memoir. I've been working on writing "the" memoir for a couple of years now. But, it has never come out this way. This part is titled "Fabrications," as with most memoirs, there's a fine line between embellished memories and actual events. What is fact versus fabrications, though, is something we may never truly know.

~~~
Fabrications

To understand the larger story of Sarai Oviedo who became Sopphey Vance, we first have to wade through the multiple lies and discrepancies between facts and fabrications. The first fabrication is the story I made up about my birth as a joke over the dinner table. The fabricated story goes:

One sunny day, my older sister found a brown doll in the garbage can in front of the llantera. She picked it up and realized it was a baby! She took it over to her mother and asked, “can we keep it?” Of course, her mother said yes and voila, the brown baby became a member of their family.

I think it's a wonderful fabricated story, yet my mother hates it. Yet, it's how we joke as a family. We've made other fabricated stories about the appearance of just about anything because the real story is a mystery that no one wants to talk about. Not even I want to dig up these stories. But I will try.

We'll first have to examine the story of how my parents eloped and a history of what existed before my birth. The story begins one sunny day in South Texas. My mother, who lived with my grandmother and my older half-sister, lied to my grandma.

She said that her and my older sister would go to the park. She never said when they'd return or if they'd return, but my grandmother expected that they would. After all, my mother was an exemplary Mexican woman to my grandmother's eyes (not including the fact that my older sister's father is a mystery).

My mother did everything she wanted to do which coincidentally was everything my grandmother expected. My mother cooked elaborate wonderful Mexican dishes, my mother crocheted, sewed quilts, cleaned, raised my aunt, had manners, and stayed at home. Because good Mexican families stayed together, unlike those gringo families.

My mother and my older sister met my father at the park. Old retellings lead to this one ending: my mother, older sister, and father became homeless. They moved into the flea market and lived in front of my grandmother's stall in the llantera, or tire stall, people bought tires at the flea market back then. The llantera didn't stay there for long, but as a child I remember seeing the charred wooden wall of the adjacent stall.

What really happened at the llantera? We'll never know. My father isn't on speaking terms with me, he rightfully accuses me of disliking his actions. My mother and I don't discuss family matters, she leaves the room or hangs up the phone. My older sister and I don't talk, we argue. And I will not willingly call my grandmother ever unless I am filthy rich and can remove her from her current living situation, more on that later.

The fabrications about the llantera and my parent's love story are about illness. “Se fueron y me quede preocupada,” is the first phrase my grandmother always used to retell the story. The English glamorized version of what she'd tell me:

I was so worried when they didn't return after the evening sun set. I walked the streets, my heart beating and my body sweating in tremor. I thought of the worst, but no they had run off. I remember that evening so clearly because that's when I became diabetic. You look just like him, morena; brown.

The story always ended with a comparison of me and my father. To her, I was my father's daughter and I reminded her of him by simply being brown. To her, my father took her perfectly wonderful daughter. To her, if my father hadn't met my mother, then my mother would have never lived in a llantera and developed asthma. To her, it was perfectly natural to stick the actions of my parents onto my person.

Imagine that. I wasn't born till a few years afterward and I already had expectations. That can be the biggest fabrication about my life, expectations. What is Sopphey Vance? What was Sarai Oviedo? Who am I really... these are all questions I ask myself. Because, I'm neither what I claim to be or what I have been in the past. This is why I'm digging through all these stories. These memories, the good, the bad, and the forgotten. It's an attempt to separate it all into words.

At this time, I'm 24. I've lived a one of a kind life, and my writing ignites questions about why do I feel weird if my life were a movie? Right now, right, right at this instance, my head hurts, my tears are dry and yet still falling, and it's been seven months since a problem I cannot seem to fix plagues me. There is pain on a daily basis and no matter how optimistic I want to be, I just can't seem to recall anything worse.

I'm a bit scared and alone. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, and if I'll finish swimming through the ocean of facts and fabrications. But, I will try. Because the larger story of Sarai Oviedo who became Sopphey Vance is something I need to understand before I can know for sure what the hell happened to lead me to this point in time.

~~~
Make it Hurt - Next }

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Devdas



I've decided to go insane. It's about time anyway. I'm reposting my first collection of anything. The first major project in my young life, a collection of 13 movie reviews. You can say that these movie reviews spawned my hobby of watching movies and sort of "learning" from them.

You can read the entire collection here.

...

Devdas

I love beginnings. Beginnings are amazing because they are the endings and the “moving on” points to stories. It all began three weeks before Valentine’s Day. On that day, one of the writers for Salon de Madame Odalys didn’t submit her story for her slot. Luckily, for us, one of the other writers picked up the empty slot. Unluckily for us, this also left the Valentine’s Day assignment without a writer.

The assignment traveled to another writer before it landed on my keyboard. I faced the daunting task of writing about one of those topics that make writers nuts. We call these topics “doors that should not be opened.” Asking a heartbroken person to write about love is like asking a blind man to write about illusions. It’s simply crazy. But, for the sake of writing and for the love of my budding business I forced myself to write.

This is how my love affair began. I bitched and moaned about love for nearly two weeks. I read, reread, and rewrote the love poems I penned as a teenager. I searched on Google for mushy love songs, for love songs from comedy-romance films, and then searched for love songs playlists on Youtube. Somewhere along my quest for inspiration, I found a playlist of Hindi Love songs. This search led to Devdas and my first encounter with Shahrukh Khan.

I didn’t notice his name in the opening credits. In fact, I didn’t recognize any of the names flashing on the vermilion screen. I had skimmed the Wikipedia article but I didn’t retain much since it was near midnight. In addition, the first version I stumbled upon didn’t have English subtitles. I’m sure that watching this film without any knowledge of the language, culture, and plot of the story made it possible for the magic of love to unravel. It was like falling in step with a stranger in a new place and knowing that you’ll be safe because you share the same skin color.

I watched a good 45 minutes without understanding the sounds from the characters. I kept switching screens between the film and Wikipedia to understand the story. I would have sensed it, though. I would have sensed all the pain that diffused into the plotline even if I never found the subtitles. I sat surprised when I recognized Aishwarya Rai from Bride and Prejudice. But then again, it’s the little details that keep one’s attention glued to the screen.

The story of Devdas, based on the Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay novella Devdas, is of tragic forbidden love between Devdas and Paro that breaks apart their families and their friendship. It is sort of like Romeo and Juliet but not really. In this tale Paro survives, even though living after your true love’s death is hell and death would have been better.

There’s such poetry in the story. Relaying each moment word for word would be a different beauty, but I’ll only transcribe certain moments. Starting with the beginning of the love story… see, contrary to the wishes of Devdas’s mother Devdas seeks Paro before paying his respects to his parents. Devdas reaches Paro’s room, calls her name, and Paro hides her face on the violet-blue sheets.

“How have you been Paro?” He says as he steps forward into her room. Paro hides her face further into the bed sheet and curls her feet close to her body. 
“Won’t you turn to see my face? We’re meeting after so many days.” 
“Days? For you, maybe. For me... 10 years, 6 months, 4 days and 6 hours.” She responds staring at her henna painted left hand. “You never missed me?” 
“I did.” 
“Lies!” She sits up facing away from him. “Lies! Only 5 letters in 10 years? There are four seasons in a year. Couldn’t you write once a season?” 
“Makes sense. You’re a big girl.” 
“The desire to meet the sea turns the stream into a river.” 
“Then why take time to show your face?” 
“Like sighting the Moon after ages, I fear I’ll leave you breathless.” 
“Not even the Moon is as vain.” 
“But the Moon is scared.” 
“Till moonrise spare the Moon, to see which leaves me breathless... the Moon’s radiance? Or your vanity?”

The exchange between Devdas and Paro is perfect for two friends who have grown to love each other. There’s the timid promise of living their dreams together while at the same time the viewer knows that this love has no future. The story arch follows a typical Mexican soap opera plotline. The film begins with Devdas leaving to England for school. Devdas leaves and Paro lights a candle for him and keeps the candle lit for 10 years. Devdas returns and Paro refuses to “meet” him face to face and this moment marks the moment when their friendship turns to love.

Everyone is satisfied and happy with their love, but Devdas’s wretched-miserable-power-thriving-sister-in-law reminds Devda’s mother that Paro’s maternal lineage consists of mujra dancers. Mujra is a form of dance originated by tawaif (courtesans who catered to nobility with music and dance) during the Mughal era (1526 ACE to 1858 ACE) in India. Now, that’s inappropriate for the family line and when Paro’s mother announces her desire for Devdas and Paro to marry, Devdas’s mother humiliates her and rejects the proposal.

The devastated mother thus vows, raises her shoulder high, that Paro doesn’t need to marry Devdas. Paro will marry an even better man, specifically a forty-year-old widowed aristocrat with three grown children. At the same time, Devdas’s harsh and ambitious father also rejects Paro and comments that Paro and her mother belong in a brothel (like good little descendants of courtesans). Devdas is totally upset and stupidly leaves his house. Paro and her mother notice that he’s leaving. “Dev, is leaving, Paro.” She states, “It’s as much his test as it is yours. See for yourself… what he cares for, you or family? Is he taking you with him? Or is he deserting you? If he isn’t taking you along... then you shall do your mother’s bidding.”

Devdas doesn’t take Paro with him, instead he leaves a note: “That night, all sense of reasoning deserted me. I was left vacillating as if between pendulous scales. You wouldn’t want me to displease my father to make you happy... would you? Why does the river go to sea? Why does the sunflower gazes at the sun? Instead of hunting answers, why not let the question pass? What was between us, was no more than childishness. There’s no love. From now onwards, you are the girl nextdoor, and I, your friend.”

Devdas moves in with a college friend who then takes him to a brothel, “to clear his mind.” At the brothel, Devdas meets Chandramukhi, a tawaif, who falls hopelessly in love with him. Too bad for Chandramukhi because Devdas is a typical “proper” man and despises her for her profession. He tells her so in a harsh manner by saying:

“Dancing to an audience of drunken men is shameless. You are a woman, Chandramukhi. Realize who you are. Woman, mother, sister, wife, friend when she is none she is a whore. Could you be someone else Chandramukhi?”

He then offers her his wallet for their time together. She sees the pain in him, and still she loves him more. Her response to Devdas’s hate is beautiful. She says with tears in her eyes, “Have courtesans no hearts? Is she denied the right to love?” and then asks for Devdas’s friend to bring Devdas back.

Meanwhile, Devdas runs to Paro, finds out that she’s going to marry, and asks her to elope with him. Paro refuses and reminds him of how quickly he discarded her. Grieved and unreasonably upset Devdas leads Paro to her bridal procession after he inflicts the mark of his love on her forehead.

I was almost sad. I almost cried, but instead I just sat there hugging my sanity with the warmth of the moonlight shining through the window. I also didn’t realize that the movie was only half way over. I sat confused and saddened that Devdas and Paro would never have each other’s love. Paro even takes the candle to her new home and Devdas is the last person she sees before the veil closes her view and she leaves.

Paro, now referred to as Parvati as she is married, finds out that her new husband only married her so that she could become the mother to his grown children and the lady of the estate. I was as disappointed like Paro, but unlike me, she actually just nodded and took to her responsibility and duty.

As a proper man, Devdas didn’t drink, but the heartache in his chest drives him straight into a drunken stupor. He awakes to find that he passed out drunk somewhere and Chandramukhi found him and nursed him back. Yet, Devdas still despises her and offers her money for the two nights “wasted” on nursing him to health.

“Hear,” Devdas mocks her again, “A courtesan talking of romance. Am I to learn of her what love is, what romance be? What is amour?”

This time Chandramukhi gets to respond: “Love mirrored in your soul, amour God’s gift to life’s design, romance. How regrettable, your friend possesses none… of soul, or intent or purpose.” She blatantly tells him his money isn’t worth the soil in front of a brothel and that Devdas owes her two nights of his time. She warrants that she won’t dance until Devdas joins the audience.

It is such a disaster for Devdas, a proper man cajoled into the whims of a prostitute. But, at the same time, such bravery for a woman like Chandramukhi to claim the same rights as any human. I didn’t care about the outcome for Paro and Devdas anymore at that point. I watched on as the sunrise came closer to see whether Devdas would ever learn to see the great love of Chandramukhi.

Chandramukhi resonates in me. No, I’m not a prostitute nor do I dance for the pleasures of men. But, in a way I do entice the pleasures of men and women with my writing. No, not just my erotica… all of my writing. I love my writing and stand behind its quality even if it makes me the most selfish woman in this world. But it is my world, and in my world I’m God. A broken God, but a powerful and strong one.

There’s a slight plot twist with a character that is married into Paro’s aristocratic family. This Kali man, bets with Chandramukhi that if Devdas arrives before the candle burns out, he would leave wearing the token he brought for Chandramukhi, but if Devdas doesn’t come Chandramukhi will dance for Kali and Kali only. Devdas shows as Chandramukhi reaches for the token. She hears him coming and breaks into a song.

“Maar Dala,” she sings, “I’m dying.” Her heart too aches because Devdas despises her. The song, composition, and lyrics are too apt in describing how it feels to be unloved in return. If you take out all the cultural references, all the religion references, all the little things that make this song specific to the film, specific to dying of happiness… you’re left with the message of Death cradling a broken heart. That’s what I saw and heard that night.

Yeah, the forbidden love between Devdas and Paro is the main reason for the movie. Yeah, it is very sad what happens in the end… but the one sided love that is despised hurts more. I don’t know why it hurts more, as I’ve never been in that situation. But, I know hurt. Hurt sits in your heart filling the void of unrequited love. This is the reason why I couldn’t bring myself to write about love.

I’m a loving person; I’m a writer who transcribes lust into words, and at times truth into sentences. My giving is always one sided. In terms of romance, friendship, and sometimes work. I’m such an unreasonable idealist. I have soft spots in my build, areas that are target to loneliness, pain, and confusion. Giving my all but never receiving what is mine makes me feel like a cheap rejected Chandramukhi.

How easy, how wonderful, it would be if I could go back in time and make different decisions. Or how easy and blissful would it be if I packed my liver with toxins of every nature. After the song “Maar Dala,” Devdas becomes an alcoholic to the point that a single drop of liquor will absolve his fragile existence and bid him death. Devdas takes that last drop in the name of friendship; he feels his end coming and visits Paro. He dies outside her gate without ever saying goodbye.

The evening after watching this movie, I started writing the Valentine’s Day piece, feeling like a cheap rejected Chandramukhi. It was the first step to breaking the shards of steel around my heart. The film inspired me to open up the wounds, because if anything, I wasn’t anything like Devdas. I wasn’t going to open up the bottle of rum and settle for drunken stupor to forget the real issues in my life. I started with the nearest available emotion, anger. The adrenaline in my body rose to high temperatures. I resorted to cursing. I wandered through old memories and I found one with thorns.

I had a friend once, who told me that the he watches movies because the actors portray the feelings he can never express. It’s funny that I never talk to him now, and it’s more funny that the first time I felt like a cheap rejected Chandramukhi is with him. Wait, it’s even more funny that I rewrote that experience and emotions without me in it. This helped somewhat as I began writing the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the story “Books and Literature,” as the Valentine’s Day Feature on Salon de Madame Odalys.

I cried, yeah I’m a crybaby. I let the broken edges of my heart rinse in tears while I wrote the first page of the story. I listened to a song over and over again to numb my senses until I broke free from the “emotional” part of the story and into the “wondrous lovemaking” that is supposed to represent romance in erotica. Whether, I succeeded in writing a beautiful piece I leave to my readers.

Either way, I succeeded in breaking away the lock of the door that shouldn’t be opened. I resumed my writing… which took me back to searching on Youtube. I’m a link clicker and somehow ended up watching a dance scene from Om Shanti Om. “Dar de disco,” or pain of disco… felt really good. It blends electronica and pain really well. I found a couple of clips that soothed the raw pain around my senses.

The mixture of beautiful women dancing beautifully choreographed songs helped cheer me up. But not really, the open wound bled through the cheap euphoria. So, I searched for other cheap euphoria, beautiful men dancing beautifully choreographed songs. That’s when I noticed Shahrukh Khan. I noticed that he couldn’t dance for shit in the song “Dar De Disco.” Well, it was either that or his age showing through his muscles. One doesn’t stay too flexible after a certain age…

Either way, I set off to watch Om Shanti Om with beautiful women and men dancing in mind and Om Shanti Om didn’t let me down.

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My Love Affair... - Next }

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Do you like reading books; watching movies? Have you ever come across a book or movie that inspired you to write about it? I'm looking for guest bloggers.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

MM 17 Sep 2012


Everyone loves music covers! Actually, a lot of people dislike them. I think they're alright if the sound pleases me.


Track List:

1. 2HB - The Venus In Furs (Original by Roxy Music)
2. Wicked Game - Aaron fet Alia (Original by Chris Isaak)
3. Draggin' the Line - R.E.M. (Original by Tommy James & the Shondells)
4. The Crying Game - Boy George (Original by Dave Berry)
5. It's My Life - No Doubt (Original by Talk Talk)
6. Never Let Me Down - Smashing Pumpkins (Original by Depeche Mode)
7. Under the Milky Way - Tearwaves (Original by The Church)
8. Dancing in the Street - Van Halen (Original by Martha and the Vandellas)

What do you think? Do you like covers?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Faith in Humanity


Remember those, “when I grow up,” thoughts you used to have as a child with other children? I remember the ones about growing up to be hookers and gamblers more. Yeah, I'm not sure what we were thinking as kids. But, my peers had it straight: they were going to live the vida loca. Swimming day during the summer included being pressured to strip out of your swimsuit and do a lap dance in the bathroom, you know for practice because that would be our eventual goal as women. This sexual theme grew with us as we matured. It was a bit bitter to realize that one of my closer friends in high school took great delight in confessing that she finally performed a lap dance.*

But, maybe I'm just too bitter. I never actually kept up with my peers from elementary, through middle school, and through high school. It's not that I felt I was better than them... I just kind of wanted to go to college and/or maybe not be a hooker or gambler. Mostly, I just didn't think we had things in common. I wanted to read and write and not worry about being in a relationship or not. Or, in most cases, not worry about the newest trend or latest gossip. Additionally, I didn't want to talk to cops about a drug or alcohol problem as a teenager. So, I retreated with a book or two and just kinda hovered on the outside.

If you could imagine me being more bitter than I am now...yeah; I was that much more bitter then. I disliked everything and everyone. More importantly, I felt nothing sincere for other people. I did have manners, but as far as cordiality, not an ounce. From frowning at cheating on exams, to being upset that very few people took our teachers seriously. From disapproving of old crushes and their pot habits, from being sad that childhood friends started having children. I just couldn't see anything good. My own personal modern childhood wasteland.

Then I stopped caring about my peers. I stopped caring about politicians, wars, terrorists, drug dealers, the new dead bodies found on the side of the road, the crying children who waited for their parents at the daycare...people in general. I take a good look at the world around us and I have a serious discussion with God of the Abraham variations. I don't know how to explain  the nature of what I felt or what I discovered, but I'll try.

This is what usually happens: I walk into the church. I sit in a pew. I close my eyes, open all my senses, and tears break their way through every door. Why don't you take care of your people? I pray. Why do you let them suffer so much, they do what you ask. Why do I have to feel their pain? I ask as I see the faces change into a beautiful glow. They seem filled with love while I ache and cry.

Every single time. And every single time I feel like I just had a fancy conversation with myself. I dry my tears and vow to never enter a church. I pick up fragments of things and I work my hardest to help others. It's through those moments that I realize that life is good. Life is about love. Love is life, and everything in life is going to be OK. In the end we're just a tug of war of everything pleasant and everything unpleasant. Once the rage and bitterness clears, I see everything with love. People are wonderful, and life is beautiful then and only then do I seek to believe that there could be a God taking care of His people.

But, that doesn't last long.

*Mentioned high school friend is indeed living the vida loca filled with new technology, sparkling clothes, and everything capitalist. She's very happy and so I'm very happy for her.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In the Mind


I've fallen down my editorial calendar train. It's strange that no poems want to grace me with their preferences. So instead of attempting to be poetic, I'm going to replay a bit of a conversation I had recently.

We were discussing ideas for a one minute film. I was feeling a bit melodramatic and opened one of the doors to a place I call "la la land." It's almost like a typical la la land, where people go off to explore bliss. Except, that mine is a bit different. It is the place where all ideas originate, the land where my muses and I meet.

In this land, nothing is what it seems; yet it's nothing more than what it is. You start out with blackness. Not like a dark screen or a room with the lights out; no not night either. You start with black paint oozing onto black space. We zoom into the black paint to find ourselves littered in glitter. And bright shiny objects! Circles, bubbles, orbs. A background noise calls for our attention. It grows louder as the clock ticks. At first, it sounds like children laughing. 
But, we soon realize that it's children screaming. Screaming into a procession of drums, more screaming. Drums, screaming. 
Then quiet. The sun shines over the black paint and a bouncing electric song fills our senses. The light electronic grooves transform into dark electronic tones. And shit fucks itself up. Explosions, death, destruction; misery. And out of the rubbery paint, butterflies emerge to the tune and fly over the horizon.

And that's only one door, or one minute. It gets worse and it gets better. But, I never venture in there for long. Because, that would be insane and I'm not ready to be insane yet.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Law of Attraction


The following is a critique of sorts of The Secret and the Law of Attraction in my most pessimistic point of view. I might throw in some pantheism thinking in too. Regardless, this is a topic that always botches my thinking and thus warrants a blog post.

The Secret, is a 2006 film with testimonials from followers of the Law of Attraction. The Law of Attraction, in short, is a universal principle that insists that feelings/thoughts can and will attract similar events, feelings, and experiences. It's more of a belief. A philosophy, even.

The Law of Attraction has roots in the New Thought Movement. Or, what I'm going to claim as the new age of wisdom. This movement promotes the idea that God is everywhere, God is a combined spirit, a destination of interconnecting roads. In this new age wisdom, humans are more or less on par with God and our thoughts and actions, or right actions, can be used heal ourselves. You know, like Reiki... where it is believed to channel something similar to the Chi, for healing purposes.

In 1906, William Walker Atkinson used the phrase in his New Thought Movement book with the simple explanation: “Like attracts like.” Meaning that if you're a good soul you will attract good things. Or rather, if you think good things, good things will happen. Elizabeth Towne summarized the principle into: “You are what you think, not what you think you are.” Which, in this worldly view can mean: if you are a negative thinker you will have a miserable life. Sidenote: I heard a rumor that a believer of the law of attraction once said that the reason natural disasters occur because the people of the area believe they will happen.

However, there is no such thing as a good nature. We're not good natured creatures. We're dualistic creatures we love and hate. Live and die. We create joy and unleash pain. Can't have one without the other, at least I will never be able to believe that. We're night and day; and consequently, we create our own destinies. We walk onto the interconnecting roads of the universe and we take our own path. Hopefully, to happiness.

There might be some validity to the law of attraction, in a twisted sense. People do not often enjoy negativity. No, in fact, most times we hide from our own negative thoughts after we roll around in them. Negative, yeah that's just a phase. No, no, no, no. No negative bone in us. So, where does that leave the negative in you? Especially, if you seek to only divulge into your positive attributes, and you seek to only see the positive in people; where does the negative go?

It doesn't go away. In that sense, if like attracts like, then those only focusing on the positive will live in a positive environment with like minded people. Likewise, those focusing on the negative will discuss the negative with negative people. And then there's those that do not look to discuss or care about other people. Ultimately, those with negative pandering can be  louder and influence our daily lives.

And the declaration that one school of thought is more important than the other takes precedence over actually doing things. We just spend so much time on thinking. Positive or negative we need to unthink and get things done. Select our goal, create steps to achieve the goal, and get it done. Or just minimally think of things and work toward our goal. Laws or not, our actions are the driving force. I call that the laws of living.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Recovery


Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 191 For Today's prompt write a memory poem. The poem could be a personal memory, someone else's memory, or even play with the fact that some people lose memories. Just remember to write a poem.

Recovery

Laying back in the pool
Body knew what to do
Swift kick, two kicks
So many kicks!

But only moved inches
Away from the other end
Where the sun shines
And my cheeks burned

Walking forward
Piggy-backing my sister
Half a step, just one step
I got nowhere

Back against the water
One full breath, three full breaths
One kick, two kicks
Faster kicks; laborious kicking

My old memories cried
As a whirlwind of daggers
Pierced through my frame
And I walked

To the side of the pool
Where I lay my head
On the hot burning tiles
And my old self cried