Monday, October 29, 2012

MM 29 Oct 2012

You can listen to this playlist at Grooveshark or Spotify.

Tracklist:

  1. Don't Stop (Colors on the walls) - Foster the People
  2. Coma Cat (radio edit) - Tensnake
  3. Don't Ask Me - A Flock of Seagulls
  4. Sunglasses at Night - Corey Hart
  5. Girl You Want - Devo
  6. Land of Confusion - Genesis
  7. Sentimental - Moderatto

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Time and Body

My number one excuse, while being a student, was that I had no time to workout. I probably didn't, too, with classes, organizations, jobs, friends, parties, writing, and homework. Even now, my time is scattered and I feel like working out will take away precious time from writing, design, work, protests, and the development of my company. But, the reality is that working out is maintenance for our bodies. And without maintenance we can break apart. Kind of like cars. If we don't maintain ourselves EVER and if we don't treat our bodies nice EVER, then we're not necessarily going to live nicely.

Yes, there are people who NEVER workout and seem to live a long and fulfilling life, but it doesn't mean everyone can sustain that life. Plus, we're not really making any damage if we do continually exercise a couple of days out of the week. At least, that's my unprofessional opinion. And in my unprofessional opinion as someone who has always pushed off taking care of herself, I want to share my experiences in making time for that gritty workout. Because, I like to workout to the point that sweat drips from my hair, and sweat is gritty.

Running a search lead me to Barriers to Being Active Quiz. It's actually a pretty neat quiz, and is used in the National Diabetes Education Program's Road to Health Toolkit. I like this quiz because knowing what "prevents" you from working out is a really nice first step. Knowing the problem, or even knowing what you do with all your time, with help with creating slices of time.

The quiz features questions such as:
  • I'm too tired after work to get any exercise
  • I’m getting older so exercise can be risky.
  • I want to get more exercise, but I just can’t seem to make myself stick to anything.
These questions continue for a total of 21 questions that are broken down into types of barriers. These barriers fall into one or more of seven categories: lack of time, social influences, lack of energy, lack of willpower, fear of injury, lack of skill, and lack of resources.

I am going to be bold enough to say, that some of these aren't easy fixes. However, if you do it just right and if you kick your time around just right, you can squeeze in at least five minutes of extra movement into your day. For example, what do you do when you brush your teeth? You could swing your hips side to side (a beginner step for belly dancing). Or if you're making dinner, you can bend your knees and raise your body up and down into squats.

Talking on the phone? Walk around a bit AND talk on the phone. The little things help out. For me, my barriers are lack of time and lack of willpower. So, I started with squats while making dinner. And I'm working my way up to 30 minutes a day because my body needs it's "me time" too.

What about you? Do you workout? How do you squeeze it into your day? On the flipside, if you don't workout what are your barriers?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Potions


Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, just use it for direction. Today's word is potions.

~~~ 

"You have a serious problem." She said to him as he stirred the odd concoction. "Really, really serious."

"Yeah, you say that now; but if this works we'll be serious rich." The mesquite tree shrugged in the background.

~~~

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Maya Memsaab



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.

...

Maya Memsaab

Something in the bottom of my heart told me to watch Maya Memsaab. I wanted to watch it even after reading the confusing Wikipedia synopsis. Maya Memsaab is based on Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary. I never read the book, but I did see the film so I had a general idea of what Maya Memsaab would be about. I did a preliminary search on Google, I typed in “Maya Memsaab,” and hit enter. The third listing surprised me and made me laugh; it reads, “Maya Memsaab – Video” with the description “Good Sex scene.”

Curiosity took the best of me and I wound up at Meta Café, a website notorious for hosting “adult” entertainment as well as regular videos like on YouTube  I click it, my headphones are resting on the laptop, and I’m caught looking at a two minute clip of “passionate love-making.” It’s actually the most hilarious scene, and maybe since I’m desensitized it wasn't even “sexy.” I watched half of the movie that day and the rest the day I wrote this part (FYI the “scandalous sex scene occurs toward the end of the movie).

The story Maya Memsaab, is the story of beautiful and young Maya who has a mind full of dreams and body of desires. One night, her father falls down the stairs, breaks his leg, and a young country doctor visits to treat him. Love then blossoms between the meek doctor and Maya and they marry. Initially, the excitement of a new life, of redecorating, and discovering “togetherness,” gives Maya a false sense of euphoria and completeness.

However, the boredom of small-town existence bores Maya and she retreats to the stories in the books she reads, and the ideals inher head. Just like in Madame Bovary, Maya resorts to frivolities, glamour, and a life of romance and passion to fulfill her needs. She has an affair with several men while at the same time spending every dime her husband earns on clothes and household luxuries.

Also, just like in Madame Bovary, Maya meets a wall of debt and the court auctions her house. However, in this version Maya “magically disappears,” into light, leaving her clothes behind. It’s actually very creepy. See, “Maya” is translated as illusion, so the ending is supposed to give you the feeling that the character Maya was nothing but an illusion. So, technically the film should translate to “Lady Illusion,” but Wikipedia says that the film is also known as “Maya and Maya: The Enchanting Illusion” in English. Ah.. language is so silly.

Overall, the film didn't inspire me, move me, or make me think. But, since I am writing about my love affair with Shahrukh Khan and I do have a couple of pages to fill… I’m going talk about my fickle emotions for this wonderful actor. In my lustful eyes, I think men and women really fill into their potential in their thirties. Now, that’s a bold statement as I’m still quite young and I haven’t met all the thirty something year olds in the world, but it’s almost true.

If I calculated the median age of the men and women my lustful eyes have fallen for… I’d say they were mostly in their 30s. There’s something magical about that age. It’s almost like the cycle of life starts off with infancy, falls into childhood, jumps into adolescence, and then staggers into early adulthood. I think that out of all the different time periods, early adulthood is the scariest, hardest, and most interesting time of our lives.

Well, it just proves that I only like Shahrukh Khan in movies produced after 1998. Because, that’s when I feel that he really stepped into his shoes as an “adult.” Coincidentally, 1998 marks his first year as a father so maybe fatherhood aged him beautiful. Just kidding. Coincidentally, though, this leads us to Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna where Shahrukh Khan plays the world’s best father.

...

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meant to Be



Meant to Be is marketed as women's fiction. Women's fiction is defined as books marketed to female readers. I read Meant to Be mostly because I'm curious about Karen Stivali's writing and because I have no idea what women's fiction really is. However, I will claim that Meant to Be is definitely a romantic drama. Romantic in the sense that there's a tenderness and yearning in the two lead characters. Drama, well it's pretty dramatic and goes through long details of the character's lives like a soap opera would.

[Note: Overall it's a pretty good romantic drama.
Give the preview a read and if you like it read the entire book.]

So let's start this hybrid rambling with the blurb that completely ruined a portion of the book for me (I'm not even going to lie, there will be a ton of spoilers):
Sometimes you’re already committed to the wrong person when fate finally brings you the right one.
When NYU professor Daniel Gardner’s career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it’s a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband’s indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne’s to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss. 
Blurbs are really powerful. See, I have a professor err fantasy, yeah let's stick with fantasy, so having a main character being a professor made me smile. I'm also a designer and/or artsy so seeing the female main character's career made me grin. I immediately fell in love with the character's and women's fiction or not, I just wanted to read this book.

Then I read the ending of the blurb... “Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood,” see this is why I hate blurbs. I had never encountered a blurb that removes some of the mystery of a book so quickly. All throughout the book I kept debating on which spouse would die. Would it be the indifferent husband (Frank who is married to Marienne) or the career-obsessed wife (Justine who is married to Daniel)? Would it be nicer if the conniving wife died or if the asshole husband died? I mean, I never quite debated on how the spouse would die... it wasn't as important.

So I pretended to not read the blurb and went onto the first few paragraphs (from Stivali's website).
Marienne watched as Daniel grabbed a bottle of Coke out of her fridge.

He unscrewed the cap and took a drink. “It’s quite difficult to understand American slang when English isn’t your native tongue.”

He continued speaking but Marienne’s mind was caught on the words native tongue. Or, more specifically, tongue. More precisely still, Daniel’s tongue. She’d always loved the sound of his voice, the expressiveness of his choice of words, but sometimes she just enjoyed watching his mouth. This was one of those times. She studied his tongue as it moved to form his words, as it licked his lips when he paused to think, as it pressed against the Coke bottle when he drank. Heat prickled through her.

Is it hot in here or is it him? She was unable to focus on the thought as once again she was mesmerized. Now it was curved upward, pressing against the back of his top teeth as he looked at her, eyes narrowed.

“Are you all right?” he asked. The concern in his voice caught her attention as did the puzzled look on his face.

“What?” She no longer remembered what they’d been discussing.

“You’re not listening to a word I say, and that’s not like you. I’ve been speaking total gibberish and you didn’t even react. Are you okay? You’re all flushed.”

She tried to think of a way to explain to her best friend that she’d been too busy obsessing to concentrate. He’s divorced. Frank’s gone. Maybe I should. Her heart galloped.

He leaned over and felt her forehead. She held her breath, dizzy from his touch. She wanted to scoot forward and kiss him, hard, on the lips, but didn’t dare to move. Thoughts of the kiss, and his tongue, flashed through her mind.

“You’re really warm.” His hand trailed to her cheek, flipping over so he could assess her with the back of his fingers. They felt cool and silky along the contours of her face and she pressed against them.

His brow furrowed. “You’ve got a fever.”

What? Her hand flew to her forehead. “Shit,” she said, as even she could feel the burning warmth.

He grabbed a glass from her cupboard and held it beneath the ice dispenser. The crystal chunks tumbled into it. “You must have finally caught whatever Ella had last weekend.” He filled it with water and handed it to her.

“Oh, God. You’re right.” Ella had come home sick from preschool three days ago and that was the standard grace period Marienne usually got before catching things from her daughter. She rested her head on the kitchen table.
The first few paragraphs are a great beginning. They clearly depict that "powerful bond," between the two characters. Then the narration goes back four years to the day they met and into long details. In these details the two began as strangers volunteering at a theater to slowly weaving into each other's schedule. It made me a bit hopeful that these two characters, in their older years, had the opportunity to weave into another person's life. That's incredible because we're so jammed-packed with our schedules and our acquaintances sometimes that adding another contact to the fold is impossible. Leaving wiggle time into my schedule is something I've been working on for the past week, and yes maybe, I want this wiggle room to find someone to share my future with.

Carrying on, we see the respective spouses and their relationship to the main characters. For example, Justine ignores Daniel's feelings, hopes, and dreams. Frank is never around, even though Marienne becomes pregnant. And, lucky for us, we see some development of Justine. Justine is highly manipulative and Marienne sees this. Also, Justine is the spouse that doesn't die. Really, for the longest time I debated on whether Justine or Frank would die. That's really unfair to the characters, the book, and the author. Mostly unfair to the readers of this review/rant, but I guess after weeks of reading the book, this is the only point that stuck.

It's stuck because I did not want Frank to die. Frank did nothing wrong. OK maybe he ignored the shit out of his pregnant wife. Ok maybe he married her because it was convenient. Ok maybe he was a bit of a jerk by sleeping around with other women. Ok he also kissed Justine when Daniel wasn't looking, right he did also disobey his mother. Alright, I think Frank did lots of morally wrong things. However, nobody forced Marienne to marry him. She knew she wasn't in love with him. You can see this as Frank tries to sex up Marienne. It's pointlessly upsetting that Marienne and Frank got married in the first place, and even more upsetting that situations like these happen in real life.

On the logic that we never saw Frank developed as a character, it's kinda unfair that he had to die. Justine should have died because she's the one who was fucking around with Daniel and ignoring his feelings, hopes, and dreams. Justine manipulated Daniel into marrying her. On the other hand, no one manipulated Frank to marry Marienne (ok redundant a bit). Frank is a business man, he did things on a business scale and that included marriage. Story-wise, neither Frank nor Justine should have had to die; just suffer a shit bunch. OK, that was too rant like.

Overall, Meant to Be, is a pretty good romantic drama. Neatly written, too. Give it a shot.

~~~

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.

Monday, October 22, 2012

MM 22 Oct 2012

Today's playlist can be found on the embedded YouTube playlist below:


Track List.
  1. Unchained Melody – Righteous Brothers
  2. Goodbye Horses – Q Lazzarus
  3. Just a Thought – Gnarls Barkley
  4. Maggie May – Rod Stewart
  5. What's So Good About Goodbye – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
  6. You've Really Got a Hold on Me – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Road to Heatlh

Health is like this mysterious thing, no it isn't. It's that conclusion you reach while eating nutritionally, being physically stable, and hopefully enjoying life. I want to get to that part and have been on this road on and off for more then ten years. What has stopped my efforts? Well, that's tricky, and I'm sure there's a reason or two. But, mostly, it's what it is. Sitting and reflecting about what happened or didn't happen is more detrimental than I'd care to admit.

I've learned a lot of things over the years, and this time I'm making different changes. I'm going to blog and do these changes all at the same time. Even if, it feels like I'm just starting yet another thing... well that just starting another thing has to end. And it is ending, I know so because I seem to blog more regularly than ever before. I also have shortened my “revamp” time in terms of working out.

Overall, my road to health is a work in progress. It's something that I have to reteach myself often and something I struggle with every day. I'm not a marvelous person, I'm just a normal person with lots of ups and downs. My current “up” with workout has challenged myself to do at least 5 minutes of Extra exercise. It's easy to do with the new Wii Just Dance game.

My next goal is to focus more on my eating. All this week I've been pulling expired butter, milk, sherbert, jello, and other items I don't eat regularly from the fridge. That's a huge waste, and I dislike it! Yet, I can't bring myself to eat regularly .. but I'm trying. The road to health is long and arduous, especially if you're turning back decades of bad habits. But, it won't always be this way.

I can sit and imagine how much worse I could be if I hadn't picked at my unhealthy habits over the years. I would probably be diabetic, probably be heavier, probably have a more estranged personality, and overall probably be in a worse situation. But, I don't imagine these things because I know that I put in a lot of work and a lot of effort into continuing my slow change on this road to health.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Flawed


Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week Lillie McFerrin will post a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate will write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, just use it for direction. Today's word is flawed.

~~~ 

What you say has an impact, they've said; actions are stronger than words, they've said. No words and no actions and definitely no remorse led her to that moment behind the mesquite tree. “Hey,” the whispers of the leaves combined and smiled. The rush of emotions, thoughts, and insecurities washed through her until the world settled. “Hey,” she whispered back, tears filling the void.

~~~

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Swades



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.

...

Swades


I sat morally disillusioned and mentally rejected while watching Swades. Swades begins in the United States with Mohan Bhargava (played by Shahrukh Khan) a Non-Resident Indian who works at NASA as project manager. The first scene shows Mohan and his team discussing the new satellite project. The scene changes to Mohan sobbing and reminiscing over his old nanny, Kaveri.

In Mohan’s words, Kaveri was like a mother to him. He goes on to say:

“I was the only child. My parents brought me up with a lot of love, they provided me with everything. But, along with them Kaveriamma too had a special place in my life. My mother would make my breakfast, while Kaveriamma would feed me. My parents tucked me into bed, while Kaveriamma sang me a lullaby. From the age of two to seventeen she looked after me completely.”

After this exchange between Mohan and his co-worker Vinod, Mohan asks for a two-week vacation. Mohan is granted the two-week vacation and makes his way to India where he meets an assortment of characters. It turns out that Kaveri lives in Charanpur with Gita, the village schoolteacher. Mohan’s discomfort with the underdeveloped living conditions of Charanpur is evident in the way that he carries bottled water everywhere. He also sleeps in an RV and keeps out of daily village activities.

While adapting to the village Mohan encounters the “hard truths” about living in India such as poverty, caste discrimination, child marriage, illiteracy, and a general disregard education. At the end of his two weeks, Mohan realizes that he can’t leave with Kaveri until Gita is married and her school has filled its quota of enrolled students. Mohan then walks around the village vouching for education and winning over the villagers to enroll their children to the local school. Gita begins to respect him for his efforts in helping with the school.

Kaveri notices that there’s a small bond between Gita and Mohan and she devices a plan to show Mohan the value of his homeland so that he can stay with Kaveri and Gita. Thus, Kaveri sends him away to Kodis, another village, to collect rent from Haridas, a farmer who rents land from Gita. Along the 18-hour journey, Mohan realizes that the same problems from Charanpur plague other villages in the country. However, the real bonecrusher occurs when Mohan meets Haridas.

Haridas has no money to feed his family because the villagers won’t support his attempt to change occupation from weaving to farming. Before leaving back to Charanpur, Mohan gives money to Haridas, to help feed his family and start anew. Mohan returns to Charanpur upset and determined to create change. He enlists the help of the villagers and guides them through building a reservoir to generate electricity for the villagers.

After five weeks, Mohan has to return to the US to complete the final stages of his NASA project. Unfortunately, Kaveri and Gita (who he fell in love with) both refuse to go with him to the US. Mohan returns to the US, finishes the project, and resigns.

I didn’t finish watching the entire movie that night. I resumed the next afternoon as my mother sat on the couch watching television. I could only sit and cry.

“What are you doing?” She asked me.

“Just watching a movie,” I replied the tears making half the vowels sound like shrieks.

“What movie?” She persisted.

“Just a movie.” I replied and leaned my head forward to the laptop screen.

I didn’t know this movie would really hit me. I wasn't aware that I was so emotionally vulnerable because of the argument with my sister. Well, because of everything that happened this past year. The movie peeled off some dust in my memories as a teenager, the memories that I quickly discarded as a child.

When I was in fifth grade, my mother decided that we were going on an adventure. She made us pack our bags, told us to be on our best behavior, and then told us that we’re going to visit our grandparents from our dad’s side. I thought she was nuts… I still think she’s nuts. Going to visit my grandparents didn't add up. My short history with my father back then could be summarized as:

1) Dad left Mom/Mom kicked him out.
2) Mom found Dad somehow while I was in 3rd grade and all of a sudden, I am aware of his new family.
3) Out of the blue Mom decides that we’re going to visit Dad’s parents.

I had no idea who these strangers were. I couldn’t even imagine what they looked like (probably brown like me and my dad), and I didn’t know if I could trust them. I didn’t trust grownups in fifth grade and I wasn’t going to trust some grandparents I had never met before. Well, this isn’t the story of the history of when Mom decides to go on an adventure. So, Mom, my younger sisters, and I are all on a bus on the way to a city somewhere in Mexico.

We arrive in Ciudad Mante and with the grace of the universe wind up at the temple my grandparents go to. From there we take a taxicab to my grandparent’s cabin… It’s a wood-like home with two bedrooms and a kitchen, the rooms sit sort of like a trailer in a row. My grandparents had no indoor plumbing and a small electricity network that lit up the kitchen and half of the “master bedroom.”

I felt sad the first time I met my grandmother. It was like touching a beautiful soul with dirty hands. She looked at my pudgy face, put her hands around my cheeks, and exclaimed my older sister’s name.

“No, ma.” My mother replied, “it’s Sarai.”

My grandmother then looked into my eyes and exclaimed, “Sarai!” I think she’s the only person who has ever said my name right. I’m not talking about pronunciation, because any person who speaks decent Spanish and or tries really hard can pronounce the three syllables. No, my grandmother Reyna said my name with love. Grandmother Reyna didn't expect for me to contribute to help with dinner, she didn't expect for me make a ton of money to keep her in comfort, and she didn't expect for me to be obedient.

In that moment I only wanted to be the best granddaughter in the world because she showered her love onto me. Quite different from how I feel toward my mom and my grandmother on my mother’s side. They’re nuts in comparison to Grandmother Reyna, well the whole world is nuts compared to her love.

That evening we had a homemade Mexican meal cooked in a makeshift-fireplace outside held by old dusty bricks. That night I met my grandfather, and a slew of uncles and aunts I had never heard of. The day after, I think, Grandmother Reyna, my uncle and aunt, my mom and my sisters, and I took the local transit to the edge of town. Then, we walked for a really long time across barren land with lots of dirt. We then crossed a bridge over what appeared to be a sewerage stream.

It smelled just as bad. There we met my great-grandmother Dolores. She stood in her one-room wooden shack, underneath the one light bulb (just like Dadi Setu in the movie), and prepared coffee for us. Her frail skin and bony structure stood in crystal contrast to my pudgy and bloated self. She, too, spoke to us with love. Old, old love from a person who’s lived through many hardships and many years but never stopped loving. They had no modern luxuries yet they loved and lived.

I am the first granddaughter living in the United States. I am the first daughter, of Grandmother Reyna’s first son. Expectations can’t be any higher. See, unlike Mohan, or just like Mohan depending on which side of the fence you sit, my duty is to return to my people and slowly build a better life for all of us. That is the path that my grandmothers set for me with their hardship and their love.

That’s also how I justify my constant need to claim all responsibility. It’s why I have to be the best, why I have to be the just one, the smart one, the harder-working one, and why I have to be perfect. Because, I can’t be my grandmothers’ granddaughter or my family’s “Sarai,” with all the little imperfections I currently have. I can be my alias that I’ve created, though. I can be Sopphey Vance to the world.

I gave my love affair with Shahrukh Khan a break for a night. I had too much heartache on my mind and frankly, I couldn't enjoy the films. I resumed my love affair on Monday, February 21, 2011 early in the evening after dinner with Maya Memsaab. I figured that this movie would be a change of pace, and well I figured wrong for other reasons.



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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, October 15, 2012

MM 15 Oct 2012

A more "Femme Fetale" type of playlist.

You can listen to this playlist at Grooveshark, on Spotify, or alternatively here via the embedded player below.




 Track List:
  1. 5 o'clock in the morning - Lily Allen
  2. Unpretty - TLC
  3. Show me love - Robyn
  4. Doo Wop (that thing) - Lauryn Hill
  5. All that I can say - Mary J Blige
  6. Set it off - Organized Noise ft Queen Latifah

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In My Defense



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

~~~

In My Defense

There are stories about my early home life. Unspoken stories too,  like the one time my mom, older sister, and I were wading around in a grocery store in Mexico. My older sister recalls pushing and causing for me to fall onto the old dirty floor of the grocery store. She doesn't remember why she pushed me (sometimes we agree that she likes being mean), she doesn't remember which Mexican store we were in, but the image of crazy haired little me with blood running down my mouth stayed with her throughout all these years.

I didn't think anything of her pushing or other pranks. It didn't necessarily bother me, I would just continue doing whatever I was doing. Early on, I could have been convinced that it wasn't me, it was her. She just wanted to be mean. I didn't do anything to make her mean to me. I was just the younger sister. An awkward kid on an adventure.

My transition into school and normal kid things as an awkward kid led to awkward situations. Mostly, because I didn't know a lot of things. I hadn't ventured out of the little world outside of my sisters and parents before I started kindergarten at age five. I don't remember my teacher nor do I remember my classmates. But, I do remember oil pastels and that I couldn't color with them. They were strictly for the teacher.

I must have been a night owl then, because my day started later in the morning. I would wake up, get ready for school, and endure the torture. Everyday morning torture enacted by my mother trying to brush my ridiculously long hair. Long, curly, tangled hair. I'm not gonna lie. I still have no idea what proper hair brushing is. Nor do I know how to avoid tangled hair.

But, somehow whenever my mother took the brush to my head it felt like she purposely yanked it. She'd dig in the brush on the top of my head and pull away at a 45 degree angle. Dig and pull. Dig. Pull. I screamed. I had no other alternative. I screamed and cried. If my father was home he'd wake his drunken mess, take the brush, brush my hair.

I never really cried or screamed when my dad brushed my hair. There's only one explanation for the tears when my mom had a hand at the brush. I bet I was frustrated with the yanking, pain, and overall afraid of her. Crying seemed to be an easy solution. The screaming was purely theatrics.

There are many reasons why I was afraid of my mother. For one, she was home more than my father. Second, she made me wear dresses. OK, maybe I didn't have an aversion to dresses yet, but she would sew the dresses with buttons on the back of the dress because they were cute. Wearing dresses was a big pain because of my ridiculously long hair. My hair would frolic with the buttons while I played creating ungodly tangles. These tangles prevented me from freeing myself from the dresses and change into appropriate shorts and a shirt attire. Everyday, I'd return home and struggle with the dress, that wouldn't come off unless I unbuttoned it. One day I devised a plan to just cut the tangle out making my freedom easier. Eventually, I managed to cut half of my hair while cutting the tangles.

That was stupid. Probably not the stupidest thing I've ever done. My mom was pissed. My older sister laughed at me. And I cried. I had some kind of affection for my long hair and couldn't handle its demise. Nor did I want to endure my mother's anger. Not that I can remember if she was angry or not. But, I figured she would be and that in itself was much more scary than my mother's anger. Eventually, my dress transitioned into skirts, then shorts, and finally into pants.

Early school life was OK, though. I would ride the bus to school with my childhood best friend. Sometimes we had “hair whipping” contests as we both had long curly hair. The official story is that we both met as infants while our parents lived on Calle de Amor. We were particularly proud that we still remained friends even though I lived on Calle de Dormir. And to this day, we're particularly proud that no matter the distance, we can still come together as friends. Even if we can't solve each other's problems.

We were such good friends that we shared a lollipop one day. OK maybe we were just poor kids and there was only one lollipop. Maybe we went through a couple of rounds of:

“No, you have it.”
“No, I insist.”
“There's only one lollipop, only one of us can have it.”
“Don't be silly, we can share.”

Thus, we shared a red lollipop that day. We were also waiting for the bus that would drive us back home. A neighborhood kid made a disgusting face and said something mean. In my defense, I figured she was my best friend, thus I could share whatever I wanted with her. And I told him so, then walked away. On the other hand, her defense included kicking him, then joining me.

My approach to the neighborhood kid became a template to how I felt about sketchy criticism and bullying from both home and school. Firstly, I didn't understand my self image. I knew that I was bigger, meatier, and louder than other kids. But, the concept of 'overweight' didn't sink in. I can't even remember seeing myself in a mirror. I was reminded, though, that I was overweight mostly every day of my life young life. Then constantly as a teenager, and now ultimately as an adult.

Neighborhood kids taunted and made opinions on that fact, though. I would reason with them at first. That, I was just me and that I wasn't necessarily bothering them. Thus they should leave me alone. Then after a while I stopped reasoning. The subject would present itself in teasing or taunting from either classmates or family members and I'd walk out. Mentally, my brain explored other alternatives of existence.

No matter how many alternate realities I'd create with my imagination, the truth remained. I was an overweight kid. I am an overweight (ha) adult. The mixture of disembodied self image and the taunting caused kindergarten me to have the greatest of dreams. I only remember one vividly, I call it my Lucky Lotto dream. It begins with me (nonchild just essence me) sitting in front of a slot machine.

The winning electricity is in the air, and I wink at the slot machine. Somewhere in my conscious, the feeling “you're my lucky gal,” nestles itself in my being. I pull the lever, the images blur. The whirl of the machine makes a tapping sound. A first devil settles itself in the first panel, then a second. By the second I'm frightened for seeing devils yet excited that the next panel could be my win!

The third panel settles on the devil. The lights smash into blinding colors. I win, I win the devils. I was utterly frightened for winning the devils. Somehow that led to terrible things and I woke up in a pool of my own piss.

Was it the dresses? The pressure from school? The pressure from home? Oh dear, whatever could have caused a 'grown' child to piss their pants. My piss excuse is that I was frightened by everything. I couldn't vocalize to school that I had to wear these dresses, that my older sister was more than just a prankster, or that it really hurt to have my hair brushed. I had no chance to discuss school at home.

I did the next best thing to resolve my situation. I internalized everything. Somehow it solved problems and I stopped pissing myself.  Somehow, I learned to brush my hair on my own. Somehow I made new friends like my childhood best friend. But really, I stopped rationalizing with bullies and just did my own thing. Kindergarten flashed through and before anyone really knew, I was graduating. We had this little kindergartner graduation with songs and diplomas. My mother made it, my father didn't.

~~~

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chak de India



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.

~~~

Chak de India has a happy ending to contrast and outweigh the sad beginning. The film starts at the final match of the Hockey World Cup. The Pakistan men’s national field hockey team is winning 1-0 against the India mens’ hockey team. India’s team captain and hockey superstar Kabir Khan (payed by Shahrukh Khan) elects to take the penalty shot himself. Yet, his strike flies just above the goal and India loses.

As Kabir is kneeling on the sweat soaked grass, his heart heavy with regret and guilt, the captain of the Pakistan team extends his hand to Kabir, Kabir stands up, and accepts the handshake in the spirit of a good game played. This handshake tremendously screws up Kabir’s life. One, Kabir is Muslim (noticeable by the last name Khan). Two, Pakistan and India aren’t the best of friends since the Indian Independence Act of 1947. In the following years and to this day the Muslim and Hindu Indians hate each others’ guts.

India becomes angry when a photograph of Kabir congratulating the Pakistan team captain hits the media. Kabir is portrayed as a traitor, his exfans light his posters on fire, and Kabir is forced to leave his home along with his mother. Kabir goes into exile for seven years until he returns to coach the Indian woman’s field hockey team. A job no one wants because the role of Indian women is to cook and clean.

Kabir finds himself in charge of 16 women from all different parts of India who are divided by their competitive natures, individual prejudices, and individual goals. Wikipedia sums up the conflict in the following:

“One of the youngest players, Komal Chautala (from a village in Haryana) conflicts with Preeti Sabarwal from Chandigarh whom she refers to derisively as “memsaab” while tough girl Balbir Kaur from the Punjab has an extremely short temper that impacts the team. Balbir also bullies Rani Dispotta and Soimoi Kerketa, who are both from remote villages in Jharkhand. Mary Ralte from Mizoram and Molly Zimik from Manipur (in North-East India) are both treated as “foreigners” by virtually everyone they meet and face repeated sexual harassment. The team’s captain, Vidya Sharma, is forced to choose between hockey and the wishes of her husband’s family, while Preeti’s boyfriend, the vice captain of the India national cricket team, Abimanyu Singh, is deeply threatened by her involvement with the team.”

Kabir’s character isn’t portrayed to go through realizations or changes, he’s pretty much flat. It also seems like he “knows” things. This, in my opinion is a really cool character to be. The first half of the film deals with Kabir trying to unite the team as one. He starts by enforcing strict practices and rules, then benching the players who don’t follow his rules, and finally he changes the girls’ sleeping arrangements.

The girls unite against him after a long and hard practice. They sign a petition to ask for a new coach. Now, since Kabir knows things, he knew this would happen and he just nods and smiles. He then proclaims that he quits and that before he quits he would like to take the staff to lunch. Also, he states that the team is invited. At lunch, a McDonalds, Mizoram and Molly are harassed (yet again) and Balbir slaps the harassers. All of a sudden, the Indian woman’s hockey team is fighting a bunch of oafish Indian males. They literally unite against men who believe that women should only stay home to cook and clean. The staff attempts to stop them but, Kabir knows that the girls need the experience to become one against a common enemy.

It’s truly the best girl-empowerment scene I’ve ever seen. There’s all out kicking and punching, name calling, chair throwing, and scratching. Kabir only intervenes when one of the oafs tries to hit a girl from behind. Pretty heroic, huh. After this little fight, the girls come together and ask Kabir to coach them. Then there is the intermission. Remember how I said that most of his movies are around three hours long? Well, that’s probably the reason why there’s an intermission.

Chak de India isn’t a movie about women playing sports. Chak de India is a movie about women gaining equal recognition from men. Slowly, women all over the world are fighting for their rights as equal citizens next to men and that’s definitely portrayed in Chak de India. After practice resumes Kabir urges the hockey officials to send the women’s team to Austraila for The World Championship, but instead of agreeing the hockey officials settle for match between the men’s and women’s hockey team.

Even though the girls fight with all they have, they drastically lose the first half of the match. Kabir then gives them a motivational pep talk during the halftime break. Also, during this break one of the officials talks to the girls.

“Should we stop if you’ve had enough Mr. Kabir?” the official exclaims. “Or do you still want to play?”

“The match isn’t over yet.” Kabir responds and places his hands on his hips.

“Your girls could not even reach the boys’ half. You cannot expect anything from them.”

“What..” Krishnaji, raises her voice and takes a step forward.

“Well,” Kabir interjects and puts his hand in front Krishnaji. “He’s right Krishnaji.”

“We always said it,” the official continues, “These are good old fashioned Indian girls. How will they run around in shorts and miniskirts?”

“Yes,” Kabir chimes in, “Mr. Yadav, tell them like it is.”

“What can you do?” the official continues, “You will fall flat on your faces, you’ll see!” He walks away and one of the girls drops hockey sticks in his path for him to trip.

This interlude motivates the girls to score against the men’s team. They unite once more to face their enemy, yet they still don’t win the game. However, the men’s team congratulates the girls and the hockey officials agree to send them to the World Championship. This is epic, heartwarming, and brought small tears to my eyes. There’s an undeniable beautiful shot of the girls holding their hockey sticks, their faces scratched to bits, and their bodies tired and yet they’re standing tall like proud women who proved to themselves and a part of the country that women can fight on the same equal terms with men.

The movie follows India’s women’s hockey team to the World Championship where each of the girls use their specific talents to beat team after team and finally the World Championship. At the end of the film, Kabir returns with his mother to his old home and is welcomed by the community that originally ostracized him seven years ago. Like I said: a happy ending.

This marked a turn in my relationship as the viewer. I had an argument with my older sister the day before watching Chak de India about my role in the family. There’s an ancient hierarchy in my family and in most Mexican families. At the top there’s the father. The father works for his wife and children and thus must be worshiped  Then there’s the mother. The mother’s place is to enforce the rules of the father. At the bottom, there are the children. Children then assume a hierarchy based on age.

The oldest sibling has complete authority over the younger and the younger has complete authority over the youngest. My mother is on the top in my family hierarchy after that is my older half sister. My two younger sisters and I are at the bottom.

Technically, we've never considered my older sister as a half sister but there’s always been a chasm between her and me. Also, because Tori (she’s three years younger than me) is away at college she stands underneath my older sister. Thus, my youngest sister and I share the bottom.

The ideal family, in my head, consists of a helping hierarchy. An establishment where the individuals involved inspire and motivate each other instead of constantly put down each other. But, the relationship between my older sister and me is not like that. I had never realized that it takes 100 people to compliment you for you to feel better, but it only takes one person to shoot you down.

It’s a long fall when you’re the go-to-person of the family… when you’re the person responsible for the housework, the person responsible to remember the schedules of your mom and sisters, and the person who has bigger dreams. The film made me realize that having a dream is not good enough. What good is it to have a dream of building a long-lasting publishing company when the company doesn’t make money to pay bills… I asked myself.

At the same time, I convinced myself that if only I had become a proper Mexican woman, then I would be happy. I would take all the responsibilities and be happy in my existence. I had a choice back then and I have a choice now. I can float around in a bubble made of me and my stubborn ideals or I can just stop fighting the current. I can just do everything that my older sister expects of me. Ironically, it means that since I work the less I have to keep the house clean, the meals cooked, and the members of the home happy.

With all that in mind, and immediately after watching Chak de India, I pressed play on the next movie, Swades.


~~~

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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.

Monday, October 8, 2012

MM 8 Oct 2012

I went through an rap-ish phase and tried my best to remember some of my favorite songs from those days. My memory might have changed the mental time stamp from some of these songs, but they're a good representation of the kind of music I could think along with.

You can listen to this playlist at Grooveshark, on Spotify, on Youtube, or alternatively here via the embedded player below.



Track List

  1. We belong together - Mariah Carey
  2. If I could teach the world - Bone Thugs n Harmony
  3. I'll be missing you - Puff Daddy ft Faith Williams
  4. The way you move - Outkast ft Sleepy Brown
  5. Smiley faces - Gnarls Barkley
  6. Tightrope- Janelle Monae ft Big Boy

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Play



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

~~~

Play

There's a gap between major events in my life. For good reasons, I think, but mostly because there are some very boring parts stuck in there. Like my childhood. Technically speaking, childhood ends around 11 or puberty, but mine ended at 7. That's when my mom and dad officially separated and I didn't see much of my dad anymore. Not that he was really in the time-frame before then, but for all intents and purposes, he was around.

We moved from the apartment complex at Calle de Amor into a lot on Calle de Dormir. We had neighbors on both sides, and to the front. These neighbors were just there, we didn't really interact with them much. My family and I lived in a trailer on the lot until I forcefully made the grownup decision to argue for a better living space before I went off to college.

Looking back, yeah we were poor. I ate the school breakfast and lunch, rode the bus to school, and didn't go to birthday parties. My clothes were never new, or pretty, or even to my liking. My older sister had her own room, I drifted between sleeping somewhere in my parents bedroom, the living room, and my older sister's room. My older sister also had a bookshelf filled with stuffed animals. Beautiful unicorns, colorful koalas... I didn't own any stuffed animals. Most of my peers owned stuffed animals and barbies.

When I was home, and alone, I would pick up my older sister's pens and pretend they were people. Just little Sarai, hiding at the end of the trailer, playing with some pens. White pens with black tops and black ink, to be precise. At that time we were introduced to novelas from the Mexican channels. So my pens and I would play novelas.


“Why did you take my girlfriend!?” I voiced over in a deep voice while I wiggled one of the pens.



“Your girlfriend! She doesn't love you... she loves me.” I wiggled the other pen in my other hand. Then I dropped the pen down and picked up a third pen.



“That's right! I don't love you... I love Roberto!” Then I wiggled both pens and made muah muah noises.


I played novelas with lots of household items. Hair brushes, pencils, rocks, sometimes just my fingers would do. Other times marbles, even though I just stared and marveled at the marbles instead of continuing my novelas. Shiny things are cool. There were even instances when I would lie on the bed and just talk the dialogue of my novelas.

It was an awkward time because my older sister was too old to play with me and  I was too old to play with my younger sisters. So incredibly awkward. One time, I tried to join in with their inflatable pool fun. It was another casual day, the sun shined in full summer Texas blaze. My dad had brought this inflatable pool home for the kids. Because, dad was always trying to get things for the kids. He always wanted us to have kid things.

The grownups filled the pool with water and my two younger sisters jumped in. I stood on the the steps leading into the trailer and exclaimed my interest to join them. They looked like they were having so much fun, I was a kid, and I wanted to have fun too.

You're too old. The adults commented.


“Old? Me Old?” I didn't understand. After a couple minutes of more talking, it was decided that I could go play with the water in the bath tub. You know because it's just the same as splashing water in an inflatable pool.



“Ok!” I agreed and somehow wound up in the bath tub playing with a bucket, a cup, and some water. I dipped the cup into the bucket, splashed myself, giggled, splashed the wall, giggled, and splashed the bucket. After sufficiently splashing everything and giggling, I showered and joined the rest of the party.


I was so simple. No kid, and especially not I, would ever turn down play time. Generally speaking, play time was just like any normal poor kid's play time. I made do with what I had.
~~~

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Don - The Chase Begins, Again



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.

~~~


I had to take a short break from watching movies to finish a magazine layout and as soon as I was done, I went back to Youtube to find videos of people dancing, all to try to revive my dancing shoes. I found two of the songs from Don – The Chase Begins (which I will refer to as Don) on Youtube and decided to find the movie.

The first version of the movie promised English subtitles but didn’t promise “accurate,” subtitles. It was after midnight and I decided to take the bait. The movie begins in Paris where Don is delivering a briefcase with ‘merchandise’ to TJ, a mafia-typeperson, behind the ballerina’s practice room. Don has to go through ‘security,’ before entering the room where he’s to deliver the briefcase. As he’s being searched, Don hands the security man his glasses case, the man opens the case, and Don places his glasses in the case. Don then leans forward and says real low to the man, “Keep it.”

He says it with such power, and such unwavering personality that it’s amazing. For the first time in my 23 short years of existence, I became a fan of an actor. Well, as much of a fan that I could ever be: squealing, infatuated, and dreaming of him. Somehow, and without warning my synapses responded to him. It’s embarrassing to admit, really funny to think about, and at the same time it’s exciting. In that moment, Shahrukh Khan joined the long list of men to inspire my writing.

Well, back to the scene in Paris. Don is threatened with a gun by TJ, but Don fights back, kicks butt, and sets off a bomb installed in the glasses case in the shirt pocket of the security guard. Don fights off the ‘bad’ guys until he holds TJ down with a gun. TJ pleads for his life but Don responds: “Not only is it difficult to catch Don, it’s impossible,” and kills TJ.

We see the opening credits immediately after the scene. They’re a mix of The Matrix, CGI , and Adobe After Effects (well could have been Final Cut, but I’m not so versed.) I think the credits are more geared towards a story where the “bad guy” is caught… like CSI or Law and Order. However, I really like the character Don, because he’s so serious, so deadly, and he’s the stereotypical heartless gangster. Kind of like the gangsters my friends and I aspired to be as children.

In the scene that follows there’s a round table of officials and a cop who want to capture Don. The cop fills in the round table and the viewers of the history of the current drug ring. This leads to the disclosure of their “informant,” who unfortunately is uncovered by Don as a traitor. Don uncovers the informant by swinging a golf ball into the informant’s head and killing him.

Don then kills another man, which proves that he’s ruthless, dangerous, and heartless. The man that he kills had a fiancée. The fiancée, Kamini, meets the cop at the police station and the cop convinces her to help them track Don. Kamini agrees and meets Don at a club. From there, Kamini follows Don to a hotel where she dances around him to buy time for the cop. Unfortunately, for Kamini, Don uses her as a shield to get away from the cops and leaves her dead body between the closing elevator doors.

Well, the story continues and Don has to deliver another briefcase. This time, though, the police are “on to him” and there is an epic car chase through the beach and jungle area. Don winds up seriously injured, the cop captures him, and takes him to a hospital. At the hospital, the cop catches up with a “lookalike” man named Vijay (also played by Shahrukh Khan) and trains Vijay to be ‘Don’ and infiltrate the gang. Vijay is supposed to have forgotten his memory and act as Don, but then it is believed that the real Don dies. So the plot thickens… kind of left me thinking “what the hell?” for the rest of the movie.

Then, the police move ‘Don’ (Vijay who is pretending to be Don with missing memories) and Don’s gang kidnaps ‘Don.’ The gang works hard to make ‘Don’ remember, and it’s not until another epic car chase where ‘Don,’ remembers everything. The scene is really cool. Just imagine an imposter telling a whole bunch of gang members that he knows their deepest and darkest secrets…

“It was like this the other day too.” ‘Don’ says to the crowd of gang members. “I was in my car and the police were chasing me. They were shooting at me. And then I; I remember everything.” ‘Don,’ even goes on to say in a cool, sinister manner “I really enjoyed killing them all,” in reference to the men he killed recently.

So they celebrate, and then there’s more drug dealing, there’s shooting, and well it’s really just a movie about a criminal that never gets caught. See, the movie got annoying after Vijay “supposedly” remembers everything. After that, Vijay (‘Don’) picks up all these Don-fighting techniques. It’s like he became the real Don! Then, he does turn out to be the real Don… and that was just stupid. Like the instances when the real Don acts like Vijay don’t add up. Nothing adds up and it all gets confusing in my head.

Back to my love affair with Shahrukh Khan now, I have a playlist with my favorite Shahrukh Khan songs. This playlist includes songs from Om Shanti Om, Duplicate, Don, Asoka, and Chalte Chalte. I already discussed the songs from Om Shanti Om so let’s talk about the two gorgeous dance scenes in Don.

The first scene occurs when Kamini agrees to help the police and Kamini dances around Don “seductively.” The second scene occurs while the gang celebrates the return of Don’s memories.

At the celebration, there are “dance girls,” dancing in variations of a black mini skirt with bra-like blouses adorned with gold beads. The song speaks of how charming, how dangerous, and how amazing Don is. In a refrain, Don sings: “I bid my life and gamble with death.” Then he takes a cigarette and shoots fire over it. Fire breathing Don! As the song ends, Don shakes the bottle of champagne, sprays champagne on everyone, and the party scene turns wild. Well, PG wild, everyone is dancing on top of everyone and lust-filled promises shine from their eyes.

Both of the songs eventually lit the dusty, twig infested imagination of mine to create a new story for Salon de Madame Odalys. I used the sequence from Kamini’s dance as seduction with the sequence from Don’s wild celebration with what I already had written to create a one-of-a-kind-five-person-act story. Well, I totally changed genders, people’s nationalities, and a lot of other things to form the story but the foundation of “Luna’s Dance” lies with Shahrukh Khan.

The day after I finished “Luna’s Dance” I went to Wikipedia to find more movies of this gorgeous, great, sexy guy. (That’s how a fan is supposed to talk, I assume.) This led to choosing between watching Chak de India and Swades. I chose Chak de India because it sounded cool. Little did I know how that movie would make me feel.

~~~

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~~~

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Monday, October 1, 2012

MM 1 OCT 2012

I didn't get a chance to post this playlist on Monday, so I'm sneaking it in.


Track list:

  1. Merry go-round by Tori Sparks
  2. Dance me to the end of love by Madeleine Peyroux
  3. Flowers in the rain by The Move
  4. Algo esta cambiando by Julieta Venegas
  5. She will be loved by Maroon 5
  6. Melancholy by Kiyoharu
  7. Set adrift on memory bliss by Backstreet Boys