Friday, September 30, 2005

Turns out, this is my kinda party

Firstand foremost, I want to encourage anyone who comes across this blog to see Joss Whedon's Serenity soon to be playing (or already playing) at a theatre near you. Serenity marks the return of some of sci-fi's best written characters to the not-so-friendly skies. In the wake of overwhelming DVD sales (of the much to short TV series Firefly) and a rapidly growing fan base, Serenity promises to be one of the best movies of the fall.
Don't believe me? Or my attempt at hype?
A Serenity Review

Serenity: The Official Movie Website

Still don't believe me? Come back. I'll review it soon.

A little taste:
Hoban Washburn (Wash): I am a leaf on the wind. Watch how I soar.
Zoë Warren: Do you really think any of us are getting out of here alive?
Jayne Cobb: Well, I might.
Capt. Malcolm Reynolds (Mal): Dear Buddha, I would like a pony and a plastic rocket.
Wash: This is gonna get pretty interesting.
Mal: Define "interesting".
Wash: Oh, God, oh, God, we're all gonna die.
Mal: Do you want to be Captain?
Jayne: Yeah, I do.
Mal: Oh. [beat] Well, you can't!

It's going to be bloody fantastic!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Like I'm all the way back where I come from

The summer before I entered my freshman year of undergrad my family moved from Orange County, NY to Massachusetts and I have been without a home ever since. This is not to say that there isn't a lovely house (inhabited by my family) I go to during breaks the holidays--because there is, and I love it (and them). I've lived in Maryland for nigh on six years now, long enough to know main roads, back roads, the cycle of the seasons, the calander of yearly festivals, etc. I've certainly been places since we moved. What's been missing is a sense of belonging--a feeling that there is a place where day to day life is not constantly filled with simple revelations, but acceptable and welcome foregone conclusions.
When I drive to my family's new house, I am always surprised by the feeling of relaxation that floods my body when I cross the Hudson--it knows it's home. Everytime I cross the riverI remember all of the events that happened on its shores: weekly flute lessons at West Point, multiple Fourth of July celebrations with close family friends , a Saturday on the water with parishioners, driving lessons, deaths, marriages and the people who were the cast of my childhood. I am struck by it's grandiose beauty and history. Such a beautiful river... such a wonderful home.
Dar Williams' The Hudson says all of this much more poetically than I could ever hope. I came upon it unexpectedly while listening to her latest album and was filled with that same feeling: coming home.

The river rolls
Collect the tolls
For the passage of our souls
Through silence, over woods, the flowers and snow
And past the George Washington bridge
Down the trails of Breakneck Ridge
The river’s ancient path was sacred and slow
And as it swings through Harlem
It’s every shade of blue
To the city of the New Brand-New
I thought I had no sense of place or past
Time was too slow
But then, too fast
The river takes us home at last
Where and when does a memory take hold?
Mountain range and the autumn cold
And I thought West Point was Camelot in the spring
If you're lucky you find something that reflects you
Helps you feel your life, protects you
Cradles you and connects you to everything
This whole life I remember
Has lied back into itself
Never turned me into someone else
And the Hudson
It holds the life
We thought we did it on our own

Monday, September 26, 2005

No amount of glitter can compare

Go ahead, push your luck
Find out how much love the world can hold
Once upon a time I had control
And reigned my soul in tight

Well the whole truth
Is like the story of a wave unfurled
But I held the evil off the world
So I stopped the tide
Froze it up from inside
And it felt like a winter machine
That you go through and then
You catch your breath and winter starts again
And everyone else is spring bound

And when I chose to live
There was no joy - it's just a line I crossed
It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost
So I was not lost or found
And if I was to sleep
I knew my family had more truth to tell
And so I traveled down a whispering well
To know myself through them

Growing up, my Mom had a room full of books
And hid away in there
Her father raging down a spiral stair
'Til he found someone
Most days his son
And sometimes I think
My father, too, was a refugee
I know they tried to keep their pain from me
They could not see what it was for
But now I'm sleeping fine
Sometimes the truth is like a second chance
I am the daughter of a great romance
And they are the children of the war

Well the sun rose with so many colors
It nearly broke my heart
And worked me over like a work of art
And I was a part of all that

So go ahead, push your luck
Say what it is you've got to say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it'll push right back
And there are worse things than that
'Cause for every price
And every penance that I could think of
It's better to have fallen in love
Than never to have fallen at all
'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets in to who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me after all
~Dar Williams After All

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Oh! We're released!

I have spent much of my life avoiding mysteries. As a child, I would hide behind my father's chair whenever the music on Murder She Wrote became too creepy. I used to beg my parents to let me stay up Thurday nights and watch Mystery on PBS with them, only to run to another room in the house when shots were fired or bodies found. I went to Final Destination as a teen, but can't say that I saw it-- I mostly huddled in my chair under my jacket waiting to go home. In college, while my friends saw The Ring, I bought a ticket to The Santa Claus II. Those who know me well know that I am notorious for flipping to a book's end after only reading the first 1/3 or 1/2 (I determine whether or not I'll finish it depending on a) if I liked the ending, b) if I am surpised by the ending, c) if I have already figured out the ending or d) if I don't like the ending at all). I don't handle surpise very well, even more so when malice or blood are involved.
For these reasons, it is so very strange to me that I have developed an interest in the very genre I have developed so many tactics to avoid. I now relish pulling out the important pieces and putting them together before the detective (who is inevitably emotionally scarred/unavailable, addicted to something and/or devestatingly handsome) reveals the "truth." I like reading about the rationale behind both the perpetrated crime and the detective work used to solve it.
I even get a thrill from the "scary stuff," no longer turning away at crucial (but often blood-soaked) moments, looking for more clues instead. Additionally, I am now disappointed by scary things that simply don't live up to their promise or are badly written. I want to be scared! Is that too much to ask?
I've recently seen the Second Sight series in its entirety and followed DI Tanner about various London crime scenes as he slowly goes blind and solves crimes--I am almost certain that this is one of the series I "watched" on Mystery (from the kitchen or hallway) in the late 90's. I have taken to reading mysteries, both academic and paranormal enjoying Dan Brown's The DiVinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point, Caldwell and Thomason's The Rule of Four and MaryJanice Davidson's Undead series (not scary in the least, but not something I would have generally gone for). I finished Bram Stoker's Dracula this summer (which was a wonderful--and frightening-- introduction to the world of Horror Fiction) and have begun The Historian, twice. I had an unexplainable desire to see the Emily Rose Movie, but think I might wait for the DVD. The list continues, but I won't bore you with it....
I think I've come to understand the joy of a "good scare." There are all kinds of physical and visceral reactions to being unsure about what might happen next, particularly when someone's life is on the line, culminating in a kind of "natural high," if you will. Perhaps I've learned to take such things a little less seriously. Or maybe I like the challange. I still shy away from grusomey-gorey stuff (yick!), but these days, I'm up for a bit of Mystery.

"When you go home tonight and the lights have been turned out and you are afraid to look behind the curtains and you dread to see a face appear at the window-- why, just pull yourself together and remember that after all there are such things." ~Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Bracelets are the new ribbons

Two years ago, I recall sitting at my godmother's table discussing various guest speakers who work the college circuit. After I mentioned I had recently finished both of Lance Armstrong's auto-biographies, my godmother commented how wonderful it would be to have him speak in most any community. "After all," she said, "his story is very motivational and those bracelets are so popular with the kids." Not wanting to seem out-of-the-loop, I nodded, but I had no idea what she was talking about.
Needless to say, I have never seen Mr.Armstrong, let alone heard him speak. But I have seen (and owned) a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet and watched as more and more organizations have used the "silicone wristbands" to advertise their causes. Rather then red ribbons for AIDS awareness or the ubiquitous pink ribbon associated with breast cancer, we wear our support on our sleeves/arms. And, because the bracelets are so inexpensive to make, a great deal of fund-raising has been done as well.
What do we make of multiple bracelet wearers? Are they people with a tragic life stories, big hearts or a propensity for plastic? And clothing/accessory companies started pushing generic wristbands. Why? So we could fake our humanity (less messy)? Look like everyone else? Probably the latter....
I could never bring myself to wear my own yellow bracelet (instead I used it as a key chain until it broke). It didn't match anything! But--more importantly--it made me uncomfortable. Was the bracelet to show that I supported victims of testicular cancer or that I read this month's issue of InStyle? Losing family, surviving disease, overcoming adversity, donating to charity-- these things have always seemed very private to me (I seldom wear the t-shirts gathered from the fundraiser walks/relays/marathons that I have participated in or volunteered at for the same reason). Ribbons were unobstrusive-- a quiet, silent reminder. With the bracelet, it's always right there: loud and proud.

Where is this going? While I can't bring myself to actually wear a bracelet, a good cause is a good cause. If you don't happen to have Magnolia's in the backyard, are able to make a small donation or want one of a new generation of bracelets-- head on over to Renew New Orleans Foundation.
America's most unique city, with all its old charm and tale-telling mystique, the city that has endeared itself to millions throughout the world, has been tragically destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The loss of New Orleans is a loss for the entire world. New Orleans should, must, and will rebuild this place in history that has been affectionately called the "age-old melting pot of the world."
RENEW NEW ORLEANS is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization established by several natives of the Big Easy who are prominent business leaders around the country. Renew New Orleans wants you to be part of this massive, worldwide rebuilding effort by purchasing and wearing a distinguishable bracelet highlighted by the traditional purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras colors.

The objective of the Foundation is to raise funds for local New Orleans non-profits to be used to enhance the quality of life for all citizens of New Orleans, especially children and the disadvantaged. All proceeds from Renew New Orleans’ fundraising activities are donated to charities that support the renewal of New Orleans as a safe, vibrant and thriving city. Contributions will be made to charities that enhance life through education, health, human services, arts, culture and humanities.
For my part, I need a new key-chain--and a brown ribbon on my jacket.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

There are roads left in both of our shoes

I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me
And bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel, feel what its like to be new
~Death Cap for Cutie Soul Meets Body

I've never been one for organized or recreational sport. Chasing after a ball to get it before someone else does simply isn't my thing. I start thinking about the signifigance of turning in my free will to follow after some inflated rubber at the behest of another's competitive spirit--I don't want to chase the ball, I don't care if someone else gets it, but the coach does so I'll risk life and limb... and the other team scores. Similarly, I've always wanted to ask runners as I drove past, "What's chasing you?!" Really, running for "fun" has never held my interest. It's alot of work. It's painful. And for what--a slightly smaller waistline and knee replacement surgery in 20 years. I'll pass.
And yet this morning I found myself outside at 7:25 walking over to the town park with a friend. We had decided it would be a good ideato jog/walk/run for 30 minutes twice a week thereby giving us a set time to visit with each other and the oppurtunity to break up the monotony of treadmills and elliptical machines.
We did pretty well, considering neither of us is a "runner." We have the aforementioned common goal and I have a personal goal (to make it 20 minutes without walking or feeling like I'm going to pass out/die). I have faith in us... for now.
But, what I found shocking was that I enjoyed myself. It felt good to have blood pumping through my recently rested limbs. While it was still cool, we were warmed simultaneously by the morning sun and our activity. I listened to my friend, but also to my inner metronome (I tend to count to 8 when running: inhale-1-2-3-4-exhale-1-2-3-4) which was rather centering and calming-- a brilliant way to start the morning.
I followed all this up with and hour+ at the gym-- so I'll pay tomorrow.
LOST premiers tonight. If you don't watch, you should.

Jack: Hurley, you built... a golf course?
Hurley: Rich idiots fly to tropical islands all the time to whack balls around!
Michael: [incredulous] All the stuff we gotta deal with, man... THIS is what you've been wasting your time on?
Hurley: Dudes... listen. Our lives suck! Everyone's nerves are stretched to the max! We're lost on an island, running from boars and monsters... freakin' polar bears!
Michael: Polar bears?
Charlie: [to Michael] You didn't hear about the polar bear?
Mr. Artz: You know what? I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm not cool enough to be part of your merry little band of adventurers.
Hurley: What?
Mr. Artz: I know a clique when I see it. I teach high school, pally! You know, you people think you're the only ones on this island doing anything of value. Well, I've got news for you. There were forty other survivors of this plane crash and we are all people, too.
Hurley: Okaaaaay...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Brown shoes

As I have already revealed, I often wake up not clear on who or where I am. These altered states of conscious (where I sit, stubbornly, between sleeping and waking) are slightly disturbing, but utterly hilarious, which is why I so readily share them with anyone who will listen (or read). I might be a vampire, a doctor, or a woman named Cedra.... I generally have no idea where these thoughts come from--I'm just a bit strange.
For example, I went to bed rather late (3--well past my bedtime) after the birthday extravaganza. At around 5am I "awoke" with a rather uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Now, those of us in our right minds might take this to mean that I don't mix well with tequilla, or there was something wrong with the pizza, or that I shouldn't have done that last shot. I believed that there was a fight going on between Jim and Jack. Jack, the evil doer, was trying to get to me and force me to do his bidding. He was an ugly, hulk of a man with large muscles, an eye-patch and hair coming out of his many moles. Jim was my champion. He looked a bit like Martin Henderson. Jim made valiant effort, but Jack won and I finally woke up a rather unhappy birthday girl.
I told you, I'm a bit strange.
The Emmys (which aired last night) may be the most awkward award shows on television. I, who generally appreciate Ellen's humor, didn't find many of her jokes amusing and "Emmy Idol" was rather strange. However, there were some high points:
1) The tribute to Peter Jennings, Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw.... I still can't believe Jennings is gone, and their speeches were moving. The "face of news" is certainly about to change.
2) The tribute to Johnny Carson. It seemed almost cruel that Dave Letterman made the tribute, and yet fitting. It was well done, and I felt as though I had missed something in never having watched the Carson Show.
3) Felicity Huffman's speech was wonderful! I loved her on Sports Night, and she's great on Housewives, and she and Mr.Macy are the custest things ever!
4) The winner who lost her acceptance speech in her cleavage.... that's such a special memory.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

And so it is, just like you said it would be....

I sometimes forget how very lucky I am. While listing my accomplishments was an amusing bit of birthday self-indulgence, I was also reminded of how kind life has been to me. While it's not always easy, I can't always make sense of it and I sometimes wonder if things are simpler for people who aren't me, overall the winds of fortune blow over in my favor.
What has brought on this Pollyanna revelation? Well, I'll tell you.
The aforementioned birthday was spent in Baltimore where I enjoyed an evening long celebration with some of the most fabulous people I know.
I adore baseball games. I love the crowds, the interludes, the scoreboard (birthdays, anniversaries, engagements--all shared with a crowd of thousands-- and who doesn't love the Old Bay "Crab Suffle?"). I love the ballpark food-- it's certainly not gourmet, but it is perfect (especially during fan appreciation weekend--$1 hot dogs and sodas-- can't beat it!). I love people watching: Fans dressed in Orange hair and Black top hats. Young teen/tweens who've devoted a great deal of time to their first baseball player crush wave giant hand painted flags, hoping to catch camera's attention. Truth is, I don't really love baseball itself, the game is never really why I'm there--but it's a great excuse for a fun evening.
For that particular reason, the celebration moved after the seventh inning stretch. We all headed over to the harbor for dinner where we sat together, conversed and laughed (alot). I had my first Long Island Iced Tea, the wait staff sang to me, James (our waiter) invited us all out dancing with him. It really couldn't have been more perfect, nor could I have felt more lucky.
My friends make me laugh, challenge me to exercise my brain muscle, remind me that I am never alone, encourage me to make choices that change my life and are always available when I'm feeling unlucky. I hope to do the same for them. I can't ask for more than that.

Sometimes if you're lucky, someone comes into your life who'll take up a place in your heart that no one else can fill, someone who's tighter than a twin, more with you than your own shadow, who gets deeper under your skin than your own blood and bones. ~Snoop Dogg

Friday, September 16, 2005

Yeah, we so breathe that!

Because time itself is like a spiral, something special happens on your birthday each year: The same energy that God invested in you at birth is present once again.
~Menachem Mendel Schneerson

I awoke this morning to calculate that given the foggy view from my window, my propensity to sleep with the covers over my head, the 9 minute snooze alarm that was trying to tell me something, and the chill in the room I was obviously a newly comissioned vampire. The fog was the first light of day, which I avoided by hiding under the covers and moving out of the sun's evil "line of fire" every 9 minutes or so... and I was very cold.
I eventually regained full consciousness and use of my body, awaking to the begining of the next year of my life. As of this morning, I have fully lived (or is it lived fully?-- hopefully both) 23 years.
Birthday's afford us a chance to "take stock" of the choices we've made, the lives we're living, what we love about those lives, what we'd like to change, our support systems and our day-to-day schedules-- they are our own personal New Years. For myself, I like to look back over what I've done, and make a few goals for the next 365 days (unlike New Years, there is far less pressure to keep Birthday resolutions).
In the past 23 years I have:
Learned to walk, talk, read, cook, take care of myself, take care of a sibling, take care of a friend, be cared for, multipy, add, subtract, divide, write, use a computer, use the interweb, use a telephone, program my VCR (kinda--now, onto the Tivo!), knit, crochet, laugh at myself, put myself first, travel, recognize and accept change, order in restaurants, recognize when I'm bullshite-ing, braid my hair and see humor in chaos.
Graduated from high school and college, worked over half-way towards a Masters degree and traveled Europe.
Figured out what I want to be when I grow up (for now....).
Joined a gym (to increase the number of future birthdays).
Laughed with friends, cried with friends, fought, gotton properly drunk, had plenty of late night conversations and been hungover.
I have not:
Always taken the high road or been the bigger person.
Always made good choices (in fact, some were rather bad).
Been properly kissed by someone I love (who loves me).
Fulfilled every expectation, dream or goal I set for myself.
But, I'm only human.... and (to parapharse Mark Darcy):
I like me, just the way that I am.

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age.
~Lucille Ball

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I don't *need* to watch The O.C., but it makes me happy.

Yesterday, I spent the later part of the afternoon watching Crash, a movie I had heard much about but had not yet seen. I spent much of the movie begging characters to stop what they were doing (which they didn't) and wondering why my friends father had suggested this was something that we needed to see. There was no cathartic moment, so resolution, no moral. Quite simply, we spent 2+ hours watching people be mean to each mainly using derogatorry comments, racial slurs and the occasional gun. Not fun.
Afterwards, my friend and I looked at each other. "I feel icky," she said, "like all this movie has taught me is that I'm a bad person. That everyone else is bad too." My reaction was to turn on another "happy" movie, not really able to process all that I had seen. However, unable to concentrate on the new movie, we tried to find the point of Crash. In the end, Roger Ebert helped us out the most.
Although the movie is superficially about racial divides in America, it is ultimately about fear. All of us face trials in our private lives; things that put us on edge. We worry over our personal health or that of a loved one... about the next generation and what we'll leave for them to work out... about making it through the day at our jobs, in our homes, etc. And all of these fears permeate our interactions with others. And so, self-consumed, fearful individuals that we are, we boil everyone else down to their lowest common denomenator which is most commonly their race. We don't deal with the individual standing in front of us--rather, we fearfully lash out at the social construct that defines that person for us. "This movie is saying that racism in the symptom, not the problem," noted my friend. The same could be said about issues surrounding gender, religion and sexuality.
Additionally, Ebert points out that division along racial lines used to be a geographic reality, and therefore is not (neccessarily) the root cause of many of the issues we deal with today. "Until several hundred years ago, most people everywhere on earth never saw anybody who didn't look like them. They were not racist because, as far as they knew, there was only one race." Yet, it is not as though people were dancing together in the streets daily, accepting everyone at face value and only with the addition of different races did divisions arise. There was still fear, the need to self-preserve, and a pervasive self-centeredness the caused and festered in conflicts large and small.
Do we have a race problem? Yes. Does it need to be addressed? Yes. Will it's resolution solve all of our other problems? Unfortunately, I don't think so.
Having recovered, we watched a few episodes of House, MD.
"Hello, sick people and their loved ones! In the interest of saving time and avoiding a lot of boring chitchat later, I'm Doctor Gregory House; you can call me "Greg." I'm one of three doctors staffing this clinic this morning. This ray of sunshine is Doctor Lisa Cuddy. Doctor Cuddy runs this whole hospital, so unfortunately she's much too busy to deal with you. I am a board-certified diagnostician with a double specialty of infectious disease and nephrology. I am also the only doctor currently employed at this hospital who is forced to be here against his will. But not to worry, because for most of you, this job could be done by a monkey with a bottle of Motrin. Speaking of which, if you're particularly annoying, you may see me reach for this: this is Vicodin. It's mine! You can't have any! And no, I do not have a pain management problem, I have a pain problem... but who knows? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm too stoned to tell. So, who wants me?"
House just makes me feel better....
I just read something about a Second Sight movie... and while that would be a wonderful birthday present for me, I'm satisfied to know that Mr.Owen is my very own Odd British Actor.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

There goes my hero

Found this article: "adapted from Bill Moyer's address this week at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where Judith and Bill Moyers received the seminary’s highest award, the Union Medal, for their contributions to faith and reason in America. "

The following statement is particularly intriguing (which, by chance, is how I found the article): Violence: the sport of God. God, the progenitor of shock and awe.

Under Construction

I usually blog elsewhere, but like the format here better, so I think I might start over. Then this will be my primary blog.... for now.
Fickle-y bloggers.