Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Living (ever after)

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

video

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


video


It's about making up everyday.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Coloring

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

Until it was, of course.

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

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

Or does it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy, aye? Talk about cheerful and lively.

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


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

...it's usually a relief!

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

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

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sulking


Ironic
Alanis Morissette

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It's a black fly in your Chardonnay
It's a death row pardon two minutes too late
Isn't it ironic... don't you think?

CHORUS:
It's like rain on your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's the good advice that you just didn't take
Who would've thought... it figures

Mr. Play it Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids good-bye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
"Well, isn't this nice."
And isn't it ironic ... don't you think?

(chorus)

Well life has a funny way
Of sneaking up on you when you think everything's okay
And everything's going right
And life has a funny way
Of helping you out when you think everything's gone wrong
And everthing blows up in your face

A traffic jam when you're already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife
It's meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn't it ironic... don't you think?
A little too ironic.. and yeah I really do think...

(chorus)

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Answering

The Questionnaire

My Favorite Word: knowledge
My Least Favorite Word: jealousy
Sound I love: the sound of an acoustic guitar
Sound I hate: the sound of the word "no" (no comments about it, please...)
What turns me on (spiritually, creatively): being alone
What turns me off: being lonely
Profession I would like to attempt: actress
Profession I would hate: public employee
My favorite curse-word: fuck (in all its shapes and uses)
If heaven exists, what would I like to hear God say when I arrive: I understand.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Traveling

"The more things change, the more they stay the same. I'm not sure who the first person was who said that. Probably Shakespeare, or maybe Sting. But at the moment, it's the sentence that best explains my tragic flaw: my inability to change.
I don't think I'm alone in this. The more I get to know other people, the more I realize it's kind of everyone's flaw. Staying exactly the same for as long as possible, standing perfectly still. It feels better somehow. And if you are suffering, at least the pain is familiar. Because if you took that leap of faith, went outside the box, did something unexpected...who knows what other pain might be waiting out there? Chances are it could be even worse. So you maintain the status quo, choose the road already traveled, and it doesn't seem that bad, not as far as flaws go. You're not a drug addict, you're not killing anyone... Except maybe yourself a little.
When we finally do change, I don't think it happens like an earthquake or an explosion, where all of a sudden we're like this different person. I think it's smaller than that. The kind of thing most people wouldn't even notice unless they looked really, really close. Which, thank God, they never do. But you notice it. Inside you, that change feels like a world of difference, and you hope that it is... That this is the person you get to be forever. That you'll never have to change again."
(Everwood, season 2, episode 4, "East Meets West")

Saying that changes are never welcome is not entirely true. Some people go as far as actually seeking it. But I firmly believe that change-seeking people are not that common - in fact, they're extremely rare merchandise. They're rare because/therefore they're not sought after. Change-seeking people do not fit into this world, do not correspond to our idea of security. But isn't changing one of the things life's all about?
How many times does one stand at the fork in the road and, for much of Robert Frost's disappointment, ends up taking the road most traveled by? We tend to take the road that leads to a destination known beforehand. It might not be the most exciting or the shortest way - but it's always better than the very much feared Unknown.
The French have a perfect expression for what I'm about to say. I'll share with u a "secret de Polichinelle" - an open secret, that is, a secret known to be true by anyone, but never openly admitted to be. So, what I want to mention is that this road, the one widely prefered, has a name. It's called Mediocrity. Like I said: who doesn't know that? But the real thing here is that not many will actually go through the trouble of saying it, let alone endorsing it.
Mediocrity Road goes smoothly. It's often either sunny or cloudy - and when it does rain, those on it worry not, for they know what always comes after the storm. There are not many holes or anything - it's really well-kept - nor cliffs of any sort. It's also well signalized, with the traffic lights always working like a Swiss clock. And it's never a deserted place, u'r never alone there. Wow. When I put it like that, it does sound like a cool place! Who wouldn't wanna go down this civilized Roman road?
Whereas the Non-Ordinary Road is really not that cracked up to be, is it? I mean, the weather's unpredictable, there are no traffic lights - u never know when to cross the street -, it's full of holes and stones on ur way, making u trip incessantly. And u may not encounter anybody else for a long time; it's really, really lonely down there. Yeah, come to think about it, who'd ever choose it? Too much work; besides, u've no idea where it leads to.
But then... see, the thing with the unpredictable is that (sometimes) it grants u delights beyond ur imagination. It's not to be counted on, mind, but when it happens... not many people have the pleasure, I'll tell u that.
U'r there. It's been raining for quite a while, with nowhere to shelter u. A fast car passed u by, and not only did it ruthlessly ignore ur thumb raised in that universal gesture of need, but also splashed mud on ya. U'r soaked to the bones, and sulking about it - cus, let's face it, u'r not a good sport. But then, all of a sudden, the sun comes out. It's warm once again; but u, still cranky, think to urself "great, now the mud will definitely never go away...". And the gods, seeming to have taken a liking to u, decide that by the side of the road there'll be a river with a waterfall, surrounded by a whole bunch of natural beauties. Leading to it, there's a yellow leaf-covered path. Talk about getting a break, uh? U still have no idea where u'll end up after that - maybe there's another downpour comin' to let ur spirits back down. But who cares? U've just had a delightful afternoon.
Another "secret de Polichinelle": neither road takes u anywhere. Only, Mediocrity gives u the impression of doing so - it makes u think that Safety awaits u at the end of it. Wake up and smell the roses: it does not. Mediocrity's a hypocrite bastard, really, luring us with empty promises. And trust me on this one: sooner or later, it becomes a maze, and u find urself utterly lost. At least, Non-Ordinary's honest; it goes like "look, I've no idea where I'm taking u, and I do suck every now and then. But I may also surprise u from time to time. Take it or leave it".
At the end of the day, both roads are not that different. It doesn't matter which one u choose - what matters is what u believe in. If u believe u'r headed towards Safety, then every road will be Mediocrity for u. But upon realizing there's no final destination, anywhere's Extraordinary. And for that, u gotta take some road - any road. Gotta keep ur swagger, keep on diving, dancing and taking nothing for granted.

"Our destinies sweep us along. We're just here for the ride. Fate takes what she wants from us and there's nothing we can do about it."
(Everwood, season 1, episode 11, "A Thanksgiving Tale")

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Diving II

Addendum made by a person whose words actually matter:

"U can always dive without knowing how to swim, as long as you're not afraid of water."

Bull's eye.