… with heavy hand.
It’s crucial to first watch this …
… and then enact this.
My granuelita gave me a purse/camera-baggish leather contraption last year that I’ve fallen madly in love with, but it’s falling apart from all angles.
Oh, old little bag, I don’t want to trade you in for a snazzy new one! … It’s been holding on by a staple in these various ways:
Leather Strap: crumbling like Beef Jerky. Scissored off deteriorated parts & stapled the rest together.
Gaping hole on side continues to widen. Big as a sink hole. Originally closed it with printing paper & staples.
Came undone within 2 weeks. Consequently, I’ve fastened it shut with big fat safety pins, which I enjoy much more.
One side of shoulder straps ripped off (safety pin holds zipper to bag)
Now I carry bag on shoulder from only the other side.
My Bag from the front — looks as good as new! SEE, mom 😉
And for Kicks …
My grandma threw this blanket over her porch recliner to give it character.
We are reading The Master Key System by Charles F. Haanel together. According to granuelita, about 20-years ago an old priest gave away most of his books during a Church yard sale since the Church was closing and he had to move. Consequently, he gave her the entire Master Key System series.
Yesterday night I went to the opening night film of the Awareness Film Festival, which is taking place through May 8th. I saw the documentary called Schooling The World: The White Man’s Last Burden.
I absolutely EFFING LOOOOOOVVVVED IT & found it truly AMAZEDAWGS!!!
The Film’s Summary (according to their website):
If you wanted to change/destroy an ancient culture in a generation, where would you start?
With the children.
How would you do it?
You would change the way it educates its children.
The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers build schools in traditional societies around the world, convinced that school is the only way to a ‘better’ life for indigenous children.
But is this true? What really happens when we replace a traditional culture’s way of learning and understanding the world with our own? SCHOOLING THE WORLD takes a challenging, sometimes funny, ultimately deeply disturbing look at the effects of modern education on the world’s last sustainable indigenous cultures.
Beautifully shot on location in the Buddhist culture of Ladakh in the northern Indian Himalayas, the film weaves the voices of Ladakhi people through a conversation between four carefully chosen original thinkers; anthropologist and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence; Helena Norberg-Hodge and Vandana Shiva, both recipients of the Right Livelihood Award for their work with traditional peoples in India; and Manish Jain, a former architect of education programs with UNESCO, USAID, and the World Bank.
The film examines the hidden assumption of cultural superiority behind education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children “escape” to a “better life.” – despite mounting evidence of the environmental, social, and mental health costs of our own modern consumer lifestyles, from epidemic rates of childhood depression and substance abuse to pollution and climate change.
It looks at the failure of institutional education to deliver on its promise of a way out of poverty – here in the United States as well as in the so-called “developing” world.
And it questions our very definitions of wealth and poverty – and of knowledge and ignorance – as it uncovers the role of schools in the destruction of traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of elders and ancient spiritual traditions.
Finally, “Schooling the World” calls for a “deeper dialogue” between cultures, suggesting that we have at least as much to learn as we have to teach, and that these ancient sustainable societies may harbor knowledge which is vital for our own survival in the coming millennia.
I highly recommend watching this brazen, brilliant, and mind-broadening flick! It’ll prove a priceless addition to your thought collection.
Big Hug ~ 🙂 V
Osama Bin Laden Dead.
Wow. Who cares.
”If we can’t create like gods, we can at least destroy like one.” – Howard Good
50,000 troops still in Afghanistan, Taliban rages on, and everyone I know is struggling to make ends meat & keep their houses from foreclosing (if they have one) or paying rent (if they don’t). We live in a country where anything is possible. Yes, with absolutely no help from the state or federal government.
Education, Healthcare, Social Welfare programs are all festering in the national porter potty toilet. We, as a country and people, are being governed — manhandled actually — by politicians that make up the top 1% of rich folk in the US. They do not directly relate in experience to our “common & everyday” problems, therefore they do not empathize with us or care about helping us out of this bog. They have created a system in which American companies capitalize on outsourcing our jobs to 3rd world countries — where those employed are exploited by these corporatized sweatshop/slave labor gigs because they have no other means of surviving their dismal circumstances. Our elected officials have cut our unions!!! and bailed out The Banks with our hard earned tax dollars — Banks that continue to implement excessive fees & refuse to issue us loans a.k.a invest in our business start ups or home purchases. They raise our taxes, charging us astronomical fines (ex: $70 parking tickets) to pay for the deficit.
See the new California taxes below:
(copy & pasted from an email sent to me)THE LOS ANGELES TIMES HAS AN ARTICLE ON THE SUBJECT: “FLOORING IT ON CAR FINES”.
HUGE California Traffic Tickets Fines Effective 01/06/2011Please be extremely careful in your driving and car registration & insurance matters. State of California is broke and they are trying hard to squeeze all of us hard to collect money. Effective immediately, if you do not stop at the red light, be ready to pay $436 in fines or if you pass a school bus with flashing red signals, you will be charged $616. The state of California is going for blood, so be extra careful in driving, You cannot afford messing with them. I have been hearing that Highway Patrols are under pressure to issue a lot more tickets than last year with at least 30% increase in fines over 2009, so beware of radar guns, highway and traffic cameras installed everywhere and the tougher enforcement of parking rules..Just for your info, the next time you park in the handicapped zone, even for a minute, you will be looking at almost $ 1000 in parking tickets, so it’d better be worth it..California needs money, so pay close attention to the rules of the road!Traffic Ticket Fines (Effective 01/06/2011)VC 12814.6 $214: Failure to obey license provisions.VC 14600(A) $214: Failure to notify DMV of address change within 10 days.VC 16028(A) $796: Failure to provide evidence of financial responsibility (insurance)VC 21453(A) $436: Failure to stop at a red signal.VC 22349 $214: Unsafe speed, 1 to 15 miles over the limit.VC 22350 $328: Unsafe speed, 16 to 25 miles over the limit.VC 22450 $214: Failure to stop at a stop sign.VC 22454(A) $616: Passing a school bus w/ flashing red signals.VC 23123(A) $148: Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, first offense .VC 23123(B) $256: Driving while using a wireless phone not hands free, each subsequent offense.VC 23123.5 $148: Driving while using a wireless device to send, read or write text.VC 23124 $148: Minor driving while using a wireless phone.VC 22500 $976: Parking in a bus loading area.VC 22507(A) $976: Violation of disabled parking provisions, first offense.VC 22507(B) $1876: Violation of disabled parking provisions, second offense.VC 26708 $178: Unlawful material on vehicle windows.VC 27150 $178: Adequate muffler required.VC 27315 $148: Mandatory use of seat belts.VC 27360 $436: Mandatory use of passenger child restraints.Note: This fine may be reduced by completing a court authorized child seat diversion program .VC 27400 $178: Headsets or Earplugs covering both ears.VC 27803 $178: Violation of motorcycle safety helmet. requirements.VC 34506 $616: Commercial Driver – Log book violation.VC 4000 $256: No evidence of current registration.VC 4159 $178: Notify DMV of change of address within 10 days.VC 5200 $178 Proper display of license plates.VC 9400 $178 Commercial weight fees due.Note: A couple of the fines may be reduced with valid proof of correction..
Our present government has his eye set on turning us into a well-oiled Caste system, into China and/or India Part Deux. A controlled mass of repressed, overworked, & undervalued workerbees who slave away to feed the overstuffed bellies of elected murderers & exploiters — those white collar criminals we like to revere as our governors, military chiefs, & presidents.
There is hope though, I think. Great hope. Times like these prove perfect for taking Destiny into our own hands. When there’s nothing left to lose, best to risk it all.
Time to educate ourselves, start our own businesses, employ each other — and within these burgeoning communities implement a socially conscious standard of ethical & fair treatment in work, play, & love. I think we have the power to set in motion a precedence for neighborly & professional behavior through one American business at a time.
“Let them eat cake”, Obama says with a charming smirk.
Obviously, I think it important that we continue voting for the policies and politicians we believe in (whether we feel they have a real chance of winning or not) in order to honor the sprinkle of influence the everyday Juan still has over this country. Still, we can’t wait for national change to trickle down onto us from the upper echelons while we suck our thumbs & pout. It must come from within us, spread around us, and rise upward.
At this point, we need nothing from our government. We can confidently take the reigns of our own lives. I believe that by consequence, over time, the government will eventually twist their arm to our commoner wiles.
I think it important that we try not to steady the unbridled chariot from a place of fear & anger, however, but from a place of self-realized power & faith. That will most likely avoid, I hope, the birth of more groups like The Nazi Party aka The Tea Party. Nope, my fellow Americans, Latino immigrants are not the cause of the current economic strife just like the jews weren’t for Germany. The rich politicians you elected to office are responsible. Let’s please stop misdirecting our angst?
Here are some perception shifting, deeply inspiring posts from out-of-the-box thinker Seth Godin:
New polling out this week shows that Americans are frustrated with the world and pessimistic about the future. They’re losing patience with the economy, with their prospects, with their leaders (of both parties).
What’s actually happening is this: we’re realizing that the industrial revolution is fading. The 80 year long run that brought ever-increasing productivity (and along with it, well-paying jobs for an ever-expanding middle class) is ending.
It’s one thing to read about the changes the internet brought, it’s another to experience them. People who thought they had a valuable skill or degree have discovered that being an anonymous middleman doesn’t guarantee job security. Individuals who were trained to comply and follow instructions have discovered that the deal is over… and it isn’t their fault, because they’ve always done what they were told.
This isn’t fair of course. It’s not fair to train for years, to pay your dues, to invest in a house or a career and then suddenly see it fade.
For a while, politicians and organizations promised that things would get back to normal. Those promises aren’t enough, though, and it’s clear to many that this might be the new normal. In fact, it is the new normal.
I regularly hear from people who say, “enough with this conceptual stuff, tell me how to get my factory moving, my day job replaced, my consistent paycheck restored…” There’s an idea that somehow, if we just do things with more effort or skill, we can go back to the Brady Bunch and mass markets and mediocre products that pay off for years. It’s not an idea, though, it’s a myth.
Some people insist that if we focus on “business fundamentals” and get “back to basics,” all will return. Not so. The promise that you can get paid really well to do precisely what your boss instructs you to do is now a dream, no longer a reality.
It takes a long time for a generation to come around to significant revolutionary change. The newspaper business, the steel business, law firms, the car business, the record business, even computers… one by one, our industries are being turned upside down, and so quickly that it requires us to change faster than we’d like.
It’s unpleasant, it’s not fair, but it’s all we’ve got. The sooner we realize that the world has changed, the sooner we can accept it and make something of what we’ve got. Whining isn’t a scalable solution.
At the same time that our economic engines are faltering, something else is happening. Like all revolutions, it happens in fits and starts, without perfection, but it’s clearly happening.
The mass market is being replaced by multiple micro markets and the long tail of choice.
Google is connecting buyers and sellers over vaster distances, more efficiently and more cheaply than ever before.
Manufacturing is more of a conceptual hurdle than a practical one.
The exchange of information creates ever more value, while commodity products are ever cheaper. It takes fewer employees to generate more value, make more noise and impact more people.
Most of all is this: every individual, self-employed or with a boss, is now more in charge of her destiny than ever before. The notion of a company town or a stagnant industry with little choice is fading fast.
Right before your eyes, a fundamentally different economy, with different players and different ways to add value is being built. What used to be an essential asset (for a person or for a company) is worth far less, while new attributes are both scarce and valuable.
Are there dislocations? There’s no doubt about it. Pain and uncertainty and risk, for sure.
The opportunity, though, is the biggest of our generation (or the last one, for that matter). The opportunity is there for anyone (with or without a job) smart enough to take it–to develop a best in class skill, to tell a story, to spread the word, to be in demand, to satisfy real needs, to run from the mediocre middle and to change everything.
¡Note! Like all revolutions, this is an opportunity, not a solution, not a guarantee. It’s an opportunity to poke and experiment and fail and discover dead ends on the way to making a difference. The old economy offered a guarantee–time plus education plus obedience = stability. The new one, not so much. The new one offers a chance for you to take a chance and make an impact.
¡Note! If you’re looking for ‘how’, if you’re looking for a map, for a way to industrialize the new era, you’ve totally missed the point and you will end up disappointed. The nature of the last era was that repetition and management of results increased profits. The nature of this one is the opposite: if someone can tell you precisely what to do, it’s too late. Art and novelty and innovation cannot be reliably and successfully industrialized.
In 1924, Walt Disney wrote a letter to Ub Iwerks. Walt was already in Hollywood and he wanted his old friend Ubbe to leave Kansas City and come join him to build an animation studio. The last line of the letter said “PS I wouldn’t live in KC now if you gave me the place—yep—you bet—Hooray for Hollywood.” And, just above, in larger letters, he scrawled, “Don’t hesitate—Do it now.”
It’s not 1924, and this isn’t Hollywood, but it is a revolution, and there’s a spot for you (and your boss if you push) if you realize you’re capable of making a difference. Or you could be frustrated. Up to you.
“Like a dream come true”
Choose your dreams carefully.
Everyone is entitled to a dream. It gives us hope, focuses our energy, makes us human.
Sometimes, though, we get sold a dream instead of creating our own.
Is it really every girl’s dream to become a princess, to be chosen by someone of royal birth and to have a $34 million wedding? Or is that the Disney-industrial complex betraying you, selling you short?
I just read that the folks who brought us the Mall of America are going to redo the troubled Xanadu shopping complex in New Jersey and rename it The American Dream. Is this the best we can do? Shop?
Dreams are too important to sell cheap, to give over to some organization trying to make a buck.
Catherine Casey chose a different dream–to move to Accra on her own to build an outpost of the Acumen Fund. It’s a dream that scales, that pays dividends, and most of all, that she can make come true.
It’s so easy to be sold on the combination of compliance, consumption and approval by the powers that be. Of course, you’re entitled to any dream you like, but I hope you will choose a bigger one.
Long work is what the lawyer who bills 14 hours a day filling in forms does.
Hard work is what the insightful litigator does when she synthesizes four disparate ideas and comes up with an argument that wins the case–in less than five minutes.
Long work has a storied history. Farmers, hunters, factory workers… Always there was long work required to succeed. For generations, there was a huge benefit that came to those with the stamina and fortitude to do long work.
Hard work is frightening. We shy away from hard work because inherent in hard work is risk. Hard work is hard because you might fail. You can’t fail at long work, you merely show up. You fail at hard work when you don’t make an emotional connection, or when you don’t solve the problem or when you hesitate.
I think it’s worth noting that long work often sets the stage for hard work. If you show up enough and practice enough and learn enough, it’s more likely you will find yourself in a position to do hard work.
It seems, though that no matter how much long work you do, you won’t produce the benefits of hard work unless you are willing to leap.
SO, I finally got to see the much awaited, much anticipated, much salivated over > Mildred Pierce … The Christine Vachon/Todd Haynes/HBO re-make with Kate Winslet & Evan Rachel Wood in the starring roles …
One of my besties Kuntz a.k.a Brit Lauren Manor TIVO’d it so that we wouldn’t have to bare the anguish of waiting a week in between unfolding mini-series parts. We watched it straight from 8:30 p.m. – 2:30 a.m. with a couple of bathroom breaks in between. I got a $70 parking ticket. It was intense.
Unlike Brit — who was underwhelmed, I absolutely loved it. Flaws, disappointments, and all.
Let me explain. I am a Cuban-American lesbian yet again watching another film about anglo-heterosexuals writhing with self-loathing, elitism, and Ayn Rand drive during the economic & emotional depression of 1930’s America. I saw, as expected, a couple of background extras that were black & asian. Only one spoke: The African-American servant with an exaggerated yet appropriate British-ized American accent — nose in air as he bows to his master-like employer.
When watching Mildred Pierce, I expected to be re-acquainted with a culture I grew up with, but have rarely interacted with on a personal level — Really Rich White People. Strangely yet not, I’ve come to feel a familiarity with their stories. Although Jay Gatsby & Daisy Buchanan know nothing of and probably rarely thought of the minority subcultures I belong to, I have come to understand the inner monologues of their omnipresent yet exclusive lives extremely well.
The American films and books I was raised on familiarized me, connected me to the subtle yet ravaging violence of anglo-european descendent angst. Through them, I’ve learned that the privileged suffer too, and quite differently.
Keeping this in the forefront of my mind, I’ve been able to watch, reflect upon, and even love HBO’s Mildred Pierce for exactly what it was. The characters & their world — which is NOTHING like mine or that of most people I know — are valid in their own right.
Oh, Mildred! The movie has been looping in my head since last night.
Therefore, let us begin dissection …
WARNING*: The following will contain spoilers! I will not discuss every element of the film as I only want to satiate my pressing craving to gorge upon the ripe & juicy portions.
CHARACTERS & THEIR EMBODIERS:
VEDA: (Young Veda as played by the actress Morgan Turner)
I always struggle between the imperious urge to unabashedly express my honest thoughts & sentiments on a piece of art — whether it be performance, written, or visual — without judging it like a critic. Don’t get me wrong, I think critics are necessary because they exhibit a public shamelessness society needs to remember that it’s okay to voice their own brazen truths. Critics say EXACTLY what they feel and think about a piece of work usually without regard for whether their opinion will positively or negatively affect the artist(s) that put their heart into creating it. As a fellow artist, however, it’s quite excruciating to decimate, pick at the bones, of a work you really didn’t jive with. I’m ravaged by guilt and flooded with compassion because after all, as my mom says, “they did their best.” Consequently, I’ll have to preface my following review of Ms. Turner’s work, and any “judgment” I express about another artist’s creation (esp. when it’s negative) — by saying it’s MY personal opinion on the matter. I am under no delusion that my take on film, writing, art is The Objective Truth. It’s just my subjective perspective …
Turner’s performance as the snobbish and disturbed Veda proved anguishing. She butchered the complexity of an otherwise fascinating character with an over-the-top one-dimensional personification. Ice skating on the surface of her character, Turner pretended to be Veda in the way a child pretends to be an Indian when playing “Cowboys & Indians” in the elementary school yard during lunch. Turner’s performance lacked the maturity, depth, and sophistication crucial to Veda’s spirit. I imagine that innate to Veda is a demanding old soul who grows more dissatisfied and embittered with time. Her ageless personality doesn’t flourish because it’s set in stone from a very early age. Unlike her little sister Ray who innocently discovers herself along the way. I imagine Mildred & Veda’s characters / relationship much like that of the mother & daughter in The Bad Seed. Rhoda Penmark (the daughter), effortlessly brought to life by Patty McCormick, was similar to Veda in a lot of rudimentary ways. Patty McCormick would have been a much better choice for young Veda than Morgan Turner. Maybe she just needed to rehearse more? I’m not sure what the remedy would have been for such a sickly performance. I felt bad for Kate Winslet who had to pick up the slack and carry the truth of each interaction in every scene they shared. I did not believe this girl was Veda or even Mildred’s daughter, which truly annoyed & bothered me because I wanted to SO bad.
On that note, let us turn to the actress that breathed ferocious life into a flat-lining character …
VEDA: (Older Veda as played by the actress Evan Rachel Wood)
Wood’s performance as Veda was truly transformative. The film up to that point had been mainly about Mildred Pierce “trying to make it.” Their relationship seemed secondary and almost inconsequential until Evan Rachel Wood showed up. She was fierce, fabulous, and, finally, BELIEVABLE. She was so believable, in fact, that I grew feelings of sympathy and sadness towards Veda. Wood embodied Veda in physical mannerisms, voice intonation, eye communication: She did IT ALL. She skillfully communicated the complex torture an insecure, starving, yet powerful spirit undergoes when it’s rotting to death and struggling to fight it off a pitchfork. She had insuppressible chemistry with Winslet. Mildred & Veda were finally Daughter Adored & Mother Loathed.
I finally understood Veda’s revulsion with Mildred and Mildred’s obsession with Veda. I think of Mildred as Dorian Grey and Veda as the painting he hides in the closet which accrues all the ugliness he harbors inside. On the outside, Mildred seems hardworking, loving, and fair, but internally, she’s tortured by an unbearable shame she feels toward her “humble” identity and station in life.
Veda, an extension of herself, takes on all her self-loathing and her relentless drive to rise above that abhorrent feeling of worthlessness — At Whatever Cost. She’ll do anything not to be classified as “a peasant — a very ill bred person” — not to turn into her mother.
I could go on, and on, and on. What I’m trying to say is that Evan Rachel Wood as the terrifying, heartbreaking, and unreachable
Veda was truly spectacular.
MONTY BERAGON & BERT PIERCE:
Guy Pearce as selfish, charming, & degenerate loafer/lover/pedophile Monty Beragon was fantastic!!!
Bryan F. O’Byrne as the emotionally intelligent, intellectually simple, and kind-hearted dad/ex-husband Bert Pierce was the most realistic of all. I absolutely ADORED watching him. Enthralled in his silences, his sighs, his breakdowns … when he performed, I felt as though I were watching a scene in a documentary. A multi-dimensional character & actor > I was blown away by his ability to translate the curious brilliance of “regular men.” Mildred & Bert’s relationship was my most favorite > from unhappy couple, to cordial enemies, to respectful acquaintances, to unconditional best friends and life partners. I rarely see films that depict heterosexual relationships — especially between men & women from this generation — with such tenderness and frankness. Yay for Mildred & Bert!
And last, but definitely not least, Mildred Pierce. I passionately love this character: Human in all her glories and all her flaws. The mother who really truly did the best she could to give her children a better life and try to save them from want or suffering. She literally spoiled Veda rotten. Oh, Mildred! We love your heartfelt good intentions even though they often come from a place of self-loathing, fear, voracious need to love and be loved … and ultimately trap you in relationships/predicaments that bleed your self-esteem dry.
Kate Winslet as Mildred Pierce was mostly — dynamic and lovable. In the first parts (before Wood arrived as Older Veda), I felt Winslet wavered in her emotional dedication and investment to many scenes. She felt a bit repetitive at times. I think that was mostly true when she had to interact with young Veda (Turner). Winslet vibrantly came alive, however, on multifarious levels and left me captivated with jaw dropped, in scenes she shared with Bert Pierce, Monty Beragon, and Older Veda (Wood). Kate Winslet ultimately pulled it off, per the usual. A talented character actress, I could watch her in anything.
DIRECTING/CINEMATOGRAPHY/EDITING & COSTUME/MAKEUP/SET DESIGN:
Awesome!!!! Perfectly appropriate to time, place, and culture. I’d elaborate, but I’m exhausted and want to wrap up this post.
Moral of Story:
1. Mildred Pierce started the Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles chain.
2. Don’t spoil your kids or they’ll turn into Diva Monsters who hanker for fame and money like rats with rabies hunt for cheese. Oh yeah, they’ll also steal your useless alcoholic man and hate your guts forever.
3. According to Veda, Glendale is the Compton of the 1930’s and one should be ashamed of such humble beginnings?
4. Rich white people in Pasadena suck.
5. Love yourself and be proud of exactly who you are or you’ll be heartbroken your whole life.
6. Don’t have kids. They’re a total waste of time.
I lent my granuelita the book When God Was A Woman after barely beginning it. Now that I have it back in my possession, I continue reading on — about the historic shift from a matriarchal to patriarchal system of cultural governance.
Some of my favorite passages thus far:
”Although classical Greece is so often presented as the very foundation of our western culture & civilization, it is interesting to realize that it actually came into being 25 centuries after the invention of writing & was itself formulated & deeply influenced by the Near Eastern cultures that had preceded it by thousands of years.”
”Judging by the continued presence of the Goddess as supreme deity in the Neolithic & Chalcolithic societies of the Near & Middle East, Goddess worship, probably accompanied by the matrilineal customs, appears to have existed without challenge for thousands of years. It’s upon the appearance of the invading northerners, who from all accounts had established patrilineal, patriarchal customs & the worship of a supreme male deity … that the greatest changes in religious beliefs & social customs appear to have taken place.”
”Considering the repeated evidence of ‘paganism’ during this period, it seems quite likely that Israel had taken up the religious customs of old, at that time accepting the female religion & female kinship to the throne. If this was so, then Maacah would have been the royal heiress & held this position until Asa, possibly under influence of Hebrew priests, once again established the (patriarchal) religion of Yahweh.”
“Why and when the more northern tribes came to choose a male deity is a moot question. In their earliest development they left neither tablets nor temples. It is only upon their arrival in the Goddess-worshiping communities of the Near and Middle East, which by that time had developed into thriving urban centers, that they come to our attention.
The lack of evidence for earlier cultural centers in their northern homelands of Russia and the Caucasus region just previous to the invasions suggests that up until their arrival in the Near and Middle East they may have still been nomadic hunting and fishing groups, possibly shepherds beginning to practice agriculture. These northern people are referred to in various contexts as Indo-Europeans, Indo-Iranians, Indo-Aryans or simply Aryans. Their existence once it surfaced in historical periods, portrays them as aggressive warriors riding two abreast in horse-drawn war-chariots; their earlier more speculative appearances in prehistoric times, as big sailors who navigated the rivers & coastlines of Europe and the Near East.”
“What is most significant is that in historic times the northern invaders viewed themselves as a superior people. This attitude seems to have been based primarily on their ability to conquer the more culturally developed earlier settlers, the people of the Goddess. The Indo-Europeans were in continual conflict not only with the people whose lands they invaded but between themselves as well. The pattern surfaces in each area in which they make an appearance is that of a group of aggressive warriors, accompanied by a priestly caste of high standing, who initially invaded, and ruled the indigenous population of each land they entered.”
“As Sheila Collins writes, ‘Theology is ultimately political. The way human communities deify the transcendent and determine the categories of good and evil have more to do with the power dynamics of the social systems which create the theologies than with spontaneous revelations of truth from another quarter.’ “
AND, an excerpt from a poem I like by Tracy K. Smith:
The voice is clean. Has heft. Like stones
Dropped in still water, or tossed
One after the other at a low wall.
Chipping away at what pushes back.
Not always making a dent, but keeping at it.
The body is what we lean toward,
Tensing as it darts, dancing away.
But it’s the voice that enters us. Even
Saying nothing. Even saying nothing
Over and over absently to itself.
Eating an amazing Pastrami Sandwich (on wheat 😉 ) from one of my fave Huntington Park Restaurant’s Tom’s while scenes from Once We Were Warriors flash through my mind. It’s healthier than a cheeseburger, right? Meh, who knows.
I was 12-years old and kicking back in the living room of our old Downey house with my cousin Danny — who’s older than me by 9 months. We were bored on a school night flipping through 200 or so channels of cable entertainment and for whatever reason the remote sat still on HBO. I think that’s the moment we began fighting over the last slice of pizza. Anyway, by the time we turned our angsty pre-teen attention back to our most cherished babysitter & life coach — The Big Screen TV — there it was unfolding, Once We Were Warriors. A narrative film about a broken family from New Zealand’s “throwaway” population — the aborigines.
A family descended from Maori warriors is bedeviled by a violent father and the societal problems of being treated as outcasts.
We watched it, jaws dropped, eyes dry from the lack of blinking, and when it was over we both looked at each other — bonded by a deeper awareness or understanding or maturity or all of it — and said, “WOW. Dewd. That was Really REALLY great. Dewd …”
Since then I think about the movie off and on, some periods in my life more than others. I think about the Maori community, being representative of many indigenous spirits around the world, raped and broken by a brutal and demoralizing colonization. How the Europeans cracked their cultural, spiritual, and psychological foundations in half and ate them bit by bit with tea & scrumpets. I think about how centuries have passed since that happened, but their dismissed & unattended ACHE, their communal scream of defeat has manifested into self- & family- destruction through alcoholism, violence, and personal-intolerance. I think about the dejected state of their internal realities — how they carry the shame of warriors who lost the fight that forever cost them their “home.” While European descendants now “New Zealanders” scowl at their “uncivilized natures” on the same land, but far removed from their neighborhoods.
I was once at a luncheon with people from group therapy, and there was this girl from New Zealand there. She came from an upper middle class family and had problems with self-esteem, men, body image issues — you know, usual Western Society probz. Anywho, I asked her if she had seen Once We Were Warriors and what she thought about that communal state of self-destruction, and if she felt the New Zealand government (as a form of restitution, if not out of pure humanity) could do something to help its aborigine populations heal — psychotherapy, group therapy, personal empowerment workshops, etc. She replied to me, “They’re just living in victimhood. If they’d stop victimizing themselves, drinking & fighting so much, and actually cultivated a desire to educate themselves, they wouldn’t be such a mess. That’s not the government’s fault or responsibility.” Says the privileged girl who drinks bottles of vodka because a boy doesn’t like her. I think about how in that moment images of me performing my own version of Maori Warrior vengeance upon her filled my belly with fire, yet how I instead — passionately disagreed with her opinions and then let the conversation die because, after all, she’s also hurting and trying to heal herself. I think about how since then I’ve disliked her anyway.
I think about how she like her ancestors, and her government don’t give a flying dung and never will about the way they emotionally dismembered their aboriginal communities or help them heal through any consequential crippling anguish.
I then think about the Maori characters in Once We Were Warriors, and that if they only realized they were still were warriors, they could have healed themselves. They need nothing from their government or its privileged self-consumed. I think about the daughter in the movie — Grace Heke — bright & studious, unique, an indispensable young woman coming into her power in the midst of this communal self-destruction. I think about how she’s woken up one night by a drunken “uncle” / party guest raping her, and then hangs herself in her backyard. I think about her body dangling from the grey-bark tree and her mother whaling at the sight of it …
I think about her whenever I realize how blessed I truly am. Whenever I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunities I have had and continue experiencing that lead to massive amounts of internal healing and perception change. All the therapy, recovery, spiritual practices & philosophies, psychology-revealing literature & seminars, that have unveiled the depth, color, and health of an otherwise seemingly futile & imbalanced existence.
I think about how I wish I could I have told her all that I know now. I think about how they were all just characters in a movie, but it still makes me sad that they didn’t believe they were still warriors.
“Sunlight is an Antiseptic” – Seth Godin (On Transparency)
My tooth is KILLING my other teeth. They’re all in a row screaming at me to help this one tooth that I have neither the insurance or money to do.
It’s been a week since I last blogged because — well — writing is an act of honesty, of transparency. For me, anyway. It’s hard to put on airs or keep up facades when I write. I mean the act is after all — Me in a silent room with my aunt’s borrowed iBook G4 computer. And, as the Cubans say, “presumiendo” makes me feel “tan fina como el trapo de la cosina.” That translates into: Presuming makes me feel as refined as a kitchen rag. It makes more sense in Spanish.
Anyway, WHAT I’m trying to get at is that I’d like to blog about something helpful, positive, face-saving, but the truth of the matter is that’s just my ego trying — yet again — to avoid vulnerability, shame, and outside judgment. It turns out I can’t help that I’m a flawed human creature thing, and my tooth hurts, and I don’t have any money for health insurance or a dentist right now.
Also, although I LOVE my art (writing and making movies), and doing it obsessively (non-stop until I pass out from physical exhaustion), the rest of my life feels beyond unmanageable.
My Part Time B Job (although I’m grateful for it) — well — hurts. Financially, I make enough money to put $30 in my gas tank per week, eat off the Jack’s $1 menu twice a day, and go see a play once a month. The rest of the little $$ Bling-Bling Cha-Ching I have left I always invest into my art materials — a hard drive, complimentary books (for reviewers), packaging materials, mailings, etc. Oh yeah, and rent.
I hustle for the rest — give a little here, take a little there — in an ethical spiritual way, of course. For instance, my aunt ROCKS and lets me use her iBook G4 laptop and I write kick arse letters on my aunt’s behalf and stay later at work to help her with her tax stuff. My friend Linda Marie helped with all the complex formatting/tech stuff for my book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive in order to submit it to my AMAZEDAWG (highly recommended) book distribution company Lightning Source, and I bought her dinz a bunch of times aka Ceviche Loco and paid her a bargain-price sum in small installments whenever I got paid. Also, I am ALWAYS there for her if she ever needs help on a project, which she knows. Etc, Etc … The poor man’s life in a capitalist system proves to be the only time communism actually works. Tribe Members helping each other — organically, fluidly, with an abundant spirit — realize their dreams.
I’m profoundly grateful for the blessed life I have, for the supportive, loving, brilliant, and generous group of people I am surrounded by, and privileged to call my family and friends.
That being said, I’m quite burnt out on living hand to mouth, paycheck to paycheck, the hustle & bustle of keeping head above water …
SO, first step to changing this dynamic in my life is admitting to myself — very frankly — that it’s real and I need it to change.
What exactly needs to change? Well, I’m not exactly sure … These are the things I know for sure:
1) My sole purpose in life is to grow spiritually and make the art I love (movies & books).
2) Since I graduated college 7 years ago, I’ve tried to make money working full-time jobs and part-time jobs within the movie industry as a runner, receptionist, office & on-set PA, executive assistant, assistant editor, & editor in the mainstream studio system, the indie fiction world, and the documentary world (that def. being my fave). I’ve made up to $1500 a week, yet none of these jobs quelled the restless ball of barbed wire bouncing restlessly within my chest — hankering for something more. After 1 week at a gig (like clockwork) dissatisfaction & depression would kick in and I wanted out. Still, I’d muster up enough energy to stay between 3 months – 10 months. After all, rent is due!
Then I thought: WELL, maybe I’ll just cut the crap and admit to myself that the only career that could make me truly happy would be one centered around the films and books brewing in me cabeza & corazon — to work on my art and help my friends out with their art.
Case closed. Understood and accepted. I’d relentlessly and unabashedly work on my projects and my friends’ projects because really that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I understand that building a career as a writer & filmmaker is going to take time — no prob, let’s get to work 🙂
Still, I need money — for equipment, rent, food, gas, car … Hmmmm, well okay I’ll apply to grants! I know lots of artists, writers, and filmmakers living off grants! My first short fiction film in college was funded by a $5,000 McNamara Arts Grant and it was the first grant I ever applied to! In the meanwhile, I’ll work b-jobs I don’t have to take home with me: Sold packing tape, was a tutor, sold more packing tape, and then settled as a part-time executive assistant. Jobs that drain bones of their luster, but kept them fed. I applied to various grants over this 3 year period: Film Grants, Writing Grants, Minority Grants, Woman Grants … Grant Applications that usually took an entire Saturday & Sunday and probably most of Monday to do. 40 hours of work per application, thanks to that perfectionist watchdog a-hole — me. Nothing. Got no grants.
All right then — next plan …
Well, all of my film equipment is 7 years old by this point — hanging in there with me, my body hasn’t been checked out by a doctor in about a year and a half, and hospital/credit card/school loan debt grows interest by the day.
My book is getting good reviews, my feature screenplay is one draft from being its ultimate best, and by now it’s ready to start researching/approaching appropriate producers … Which is beyond RAD.
But I’m still broker than a stripper on crack.
SO, I applied to grad school for my master’s in film theory! I’d LOVE to teach film at a junior college while I continue making my art. The school loans will keep me alive while I go to school (I can also afford to upgrade some equipment & buy some more necessary materials), and once I graduate — the degree will get me a professor-pay job that I’ll most likely LOVE (since I love watching movies, discussing them, and writing about them more than drinking 40’s, eating tres-leches cakes, and making out with beautiful chicas, which = A LOT OF LOVE) AND the mula made there will help me invest in my art projects and pay off debt.
Woohoo! Now, there’s about 4 months until I hear if I was accepted by grad school and 6 months until grad school begins … Getting out of bed to make it to my exec assistant part-time job seems an almost impossible task by this point … for the barbed-wire ball is bouncing in my chest again and the money’s hella tight (close to non-existent). GAHHHH! This. way. isn’t. working. anymore.
Please baby jesus let me get into grad school and receive massive amounts of fafsa money and in the meanwhile — help me figure out what to do!
I must chuck my pride into the toilet and apply for an EBT card so that I can afford to shop at Trader Joe’s, which will stop the fast food industry from raping my cholesterol and blood sugar levels!
UM, so there you have it. Transparency. Godin’s right. Sunlight is an antiseptic. I feel better already. Doing the “I’m so fabulously together I blog about it” song & dance is FAR more humiliating and boring.
I’ll finish with a quick fun little story:
2 weeks ago I was honored to be invited by event sponsor Moet & Chandon
as a guest blogger to renowned spanish newspaper La Opinion’s esteemed Latina Leader Awards (Mujeres Destacadas Awards/Luncheon) at the beautiful Millenium Biltmore where 30 inspirational leaders of the Latina community were recognized for their priceless contributions to American society in 4 different categories: Leadership, Health, Arts & Culture, and Education.
After the valet parks my car (there was no street parking or affordable parking lot nearby), I rush to a stall in the women’s bathroom and text my mom this:
Mamushka, please transfer 50 bucks into my account. I have no money to pay for parking! Lol! I get out in 2-3 hours. That’s when I would need the money. This place is swanky!!! ;)”
The first half covered my Chase account overdraft, and the rest of it went to parking.
All that said & done, I’m comforted by the fact that Winona Ryder sorta went through something like this too. Even if only in a movie. One of the funnest movies EVER!: Reality Bites … It does sometimes, Winona. I agree.
I feel like a mute on fire.
SOOOoooooooo much rage blazes through my veins now. What tah’ do when smashed against a concrete pillar by source unclear? I clench my jaw until teeth crack and press my lips against each other until they go white with yellow and sit motionless in the silent ambience of this room scouring for paintings that rage without shame …
My voice has been raped of sound and I swallow anger in golf-ball sized gulps that hurt going down.