Beauty and the Beast

If we met a guy like Gaston today, how would we respond?

How would we like to respond?

Think on that for a while.

Post-a-day 2018

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Genius

I just watched “The Matrix” for the first time in over ten years.

Gosh, that movie is good.

Especially concepts discussed in it… so, so good, I kind of want to turn it right back on, but take notes this time.

Go watch it, even if you’ve already seen it.

Man… ūüėõ

 

P.S. ¬†I had to pace during the first part, because I wanted to reach my step commitment for the day, but I hadn’t yet reached it. ¬†I totally got to chill excitedly on the sofa for most of the movie, once I‚Äôd reached my goal, though.

Post-a-day 2018

A time to live

I have just found myself sighing in amazement at something the students around me probably would think me a crazy adult for doing – I was that nonsensical old teacher, who got all excited about nothing special, because she/he was a total nerd, just now. ¬†Who’d have ever thunk that I’d be¬†that person when I grew older?

Anyway, the girls were talking about books for school, and I mentioned how using the audiobooks can be really helpful, whenever one finds it difficult to read the actual text of a book – it was how I managed to read lots of school books that I just didn’t like (and therefore struggled to sit down to read). ¬†It was also how, I mentioned, I read Huckleberry Finn. ¬†The language was written down for the story, but it was a set of spoken dialects that really weren’t written at the time. ¬†My being from the southern US, I can understand most of those spoken dialects referenced in the book. ¬†However, I never would¬†read them. ¬†They were, as I mentioned, always¬†spoken. ¬†So, when we read the book in school, I had to read a sentence once to figure out how to pronounce the words written there, and then I had to read it again aloud (either aloud in my head or actually aloud with my voice), so that I could¬†hear what it was, and then I was able to understand what was written on the page. ¬†Suffice it to say that this took way longer than I was interested in managing for an entire book. ¬†Thus, the usefulness of the audiobook, which allowed me to understand everything immediately.

After I explained this, one of the girls mentioned how she would have found that useful for¬†Pygmalion, the story of “My Fair Lady” that was written by George Bernard Shaw. ¬†She said that the language in the beginning was incredibly difficult to understand, such that she was somewhat dumbfounded with it at first.

Now,¬†that reminded me of how I keep forgetting to add¬†Pygmalion to my reading list. ¬†I’ve wanted to read it ever since I first learned about its existence, back when I was in high school. ¬†But, I keep forgetting to add it to my list, and so I forget about it any time I’m on the quest for my next read. ¬†Therefore, mid-conversation, I turned to my computer, and I added it to my reading list on GoodReads.

While there, I read the little blurb about George Bernard Shaw.  I was amazed at his years of life.  1856 to 1950 was his lifetime.  I began considering the historical events that occurred during that time span, and I was dumbfounded at how life might have been for this man, or even for any person living during that span of time, especially in the US, though he was in Ireland and England.  I then saw that he had won the Nobel Prize in literature (and refused the money, asking it to be donated to book translations into English instead), and he also won an Oscar.  And that second award struck me as odd.

He was born in the 1850s. ¬†But when was film first an actual public thing in the world? ¬†How do we go from the 1850s to an Oscar? ¬†I checked. ¬†It looked like film started to become a public thing around that 1880s. ¬†Before that, it was the little wheel things (zoetrope and praxinoscope, the predecessors of the flip book), like the one with the images of the man riding the old bicycle, where it looks like he is riding, because the pictures are rotating so quickly, but it is just the one single loop, repeating over and over again. ¬†(I looked quickly, but didn’t find a video or photo of that particular one, though it is the one I best remember from originally learning about them.) ¬†So, essentially, this man went from a world with no film to winning an Oscar for a film on which he worked (specifically, he wrote the story and script).

Is that not a crazy concept?  It, I suppose, is similar to someone being born in, say, the 1960s, and being alive today, doing spectacular things in the computer industry.  (Think Steve Jobs, even though he is not actually alive today.)  Going from almost no existence of the world of the computer, to a time where one can become an expert and award-winner in the work of the computer.  Except, for George Bernard Shaw, there were also two world wars that happened, and a million other huge historical events.  What an amazing time to have been alive.  What a terrifying time, as well, to have been alive.

So, anyway, I found myself gaping and sighing and “Wow”-ing over this new-to-me information just now, as the girls likely saw nothing spectacular for me to be “Wow”-ing about, and didn’t really care anyway, since I hadn’t really shared the information with them. ¬†But I just had to share this with¬†someone… isn’t that an amazing time to have been alive, the lifetime of George Bernard Shaw? ¬†It’s like “Midnight in Paris”, except that I don’t actually want to go back to that time – it’s just a spectacular concept to me, being alive in that specific stretch of time.

Anyway… yeah. ¬†ūüėõ

Post-a-day 2018

A brief step behind the ocd and normalcy

Occasionally, I being to wonder if I might actually be a little crazy, or if it is all just in my head… and then I wonder if the two options aren’t one in the same…

I first saw the film “Girl, Interrupted” when I was little. ¬†And I loved it. ¬†But I have no specific reasoning as to why I loved it. ¬†I just did, and so did one of my best friends at the time, Jennifer. ¬†I even gave her the movie for her birthday one year, and she was exceedingly delighted. ¬†We just loved the film. ¬†For whatever reason, it was on my mind this week, and so I watched it today – day seven-ish of my illness-induced infirmity. ¬†Today, possible over a decade after the last time I saw the film, I saw something new in it. ¬†I watched the extras section on the making of the film, and it had, as I suspected to have been the case, the woman on whose life the film was based. ¬†She had written a book about her time in a mental institution in the 1960s, and this director had found the book, turned it into a screenplay (over about two years), and then made the film.

The lead actress, Winona Ryder, spoke of how she wished she’d read the book while she was a teenager, because it had ideas that would have been extremely helpful for her at that time. ¬†Having experienced genuine anxiety attacks, she’d had a glimpse of the sort of life the book described (but without the stay in the mental institution). ¬†And that’s what really got me thinking today.

They mentioned how so much of what the main character suffered was normal for people, very common, even. ¬†And I could relate to her. ¬†For certain parts, not at all, but, for others… completely. ¬†There are times when I look at myself as a sort of outsider, and I can say, ‘Oh, goodness. ¬†Whatever. ¬†Get over it. ¬†It’s not actually anything real. ¬†You’re fine.’ ¬†Today, I allowed myself to question myself after that statement. ¬†Am I actually fine? Or are you just saying that? Is it because what feels to be wrong just doesn’t make sense? ¬†Because I am better than this problem? ¬†It kind of felt like a 50/50, really.

So, I forced myself into my 200-dollar vehicle. ¬†After a few moments, I started it, and I drove to the store. ¬†I drove the wrong way to get there, thinking it was the faster way. ¬†And then I couldn’t figure out how I’d gone that way, because I’d known how to get to the store since before I could drive. ¬†When I arrived, I drove at an elderly pace through the lot, and eventually halted in a spot. ¬†It was the first spot, but I didn’t care and still don’t. ¬†For minutes, I sat there, car off. ¬†I looked around a little bit, and wondered what was wrong with me. ¬†This wasn’t the first time I’d had such an experience. ¬†Just recently, my mom had called me as I sat in the Target parking lot, and I was then wondering the same thing. ¬†I couldn’t figure out why I was – was it¬†afraid? – afraid to get out and go into the store.

I had driven to the store with two purposes in mind today (as is often the case when in similar situations): to get out of the house and to get food to eat. ¬†But I couldn’t figure out what to buy, and I didn’t know how to get from where I was sitting to the successful completion of my errand. ¬†And so I sat. ¬†I wondered about getting out of my head, because I was clearly stuck in my head…, except that I didn’t have any specific thoughts going through my head at the time. ¬†The only thought was about how I should probably get out of my head… but I couldn’t figure out what I’d been doing there, if I¬†had been in my head, because there were no thoughts there. ¬†I was just sitting, and I could feel how I was nervous about getting out of the car, but I had no thoughts or words to go with the feeling. ¬†It was just a feeling. ¬†When it finally hit the point of bordering on tears, I gave a big inhale-exhale and got out.

I went slowly into the store and got myself a basket. ¬†I went to the Texas wines to distract myself. ¬†(Not like I’d be buying any. ¬†You see, the rodeo showcases wines, and I always like to check the Texas ones in the store afterward to compare the wine garden prices to grocery store prices.) ¬†It worked. ¬†I sent a photo of a 23-dollar bottle to a friend of mine, telling her how it had been $10 for a little cup of it in the wine garden. ¬†I’d remembered the wine bottle.

And then I continued onward, found the smoothie thing I’d wanted, along with the noodle things I didn’t really want but felt I needed, because I wasn’t eating enough food otherwise (also part of the weirdness that made it difficult to¬†go to the store in the first place). ¬†I even gave myself two bananas and a special water (It’s a fancy, flower-infused water… oooh.). ¬†(I worried about the bananas, but I got them anyway, because they are good for me. ¬†Even now I worry that I might not eat them.) ¬†By the time I passed the Easter candy and had sent various photos to some of my Japanese kids in Japan, I was doing rather well, feeling rather normal and not so shaky on the inside. ¬†I played my audiobook on the way home, and it was splendid. ¬†I felt very much normal by the time I was getting out of the car at home.

And it makes me wonder yet again if anything is actually wrong with me, or if it’s all in my head… or, of course, if it isn’t just both.

I’ve had this thing around going to the store for quite some time. ¬†I don’t remember when it started, but today’s adventure was similar to the others. ¬†Oftentimes, I don’t even go to the store if I’m doing it alone. ¬†I scrounge for scraps of food, and make the unhealthiest of meals for myself in my desperate attempt to avoid going shopping on my own. ¬†If, say, my mom is going, I’ll go along easily. ¬†I even enjoy going along most of the time. ¬†But going alone is a rarity. ¬†I practically beg my mother to stop at the store on her way home some days, just so that I don’t have to go. ¬†I¬†do beg her to go with me regularly, and, when she declines, as she is apt to do, I usually end up not going. ¬†This applies to restaurants, as well as the grocery store or almost any other store.

To me, this all just sounds like nonsense. ¬†Like I’m just being dramatic, and¬†Goodness, get over it. ¬†That’s what my brain says to myself all the time. ¬†Sometimes it works. ¬†Yet this isn’t something that was around for just a little while, and has now disappeared. ¬†It actually seems like a genuine problem at times. ¬†I’ve actually not eaten multiple meals, because of it. ¬†And I’m not talking about only a handful here… ¬†doesn’t it just seem, well, crazy?

It certainly seems crazy to me. ¬†But I’m not crazy. ¬†I know that. ¬†This is just exactly the kind of thing they were referencing about the struggles people have in life that, when viewed with a certain perspective, have us viewed as insane, or borderline. ¬†If this were all someone knew about me, that person would have a completely different perspective than someone who has met me outside of this little pocket of craziness. ¬†And, like the main character in the story, perhaps that first someone would want to put me in a mental facility ‘to rest’ for a while, and the second wouldn’t understand why I kind of agreed that it was okay for me to go.

Anyway… hope that didn’t freak anyone out too much…

Post-a-day 2018

ukulele and hula

I started ukulele lessons today.  It also included a reunion and a brief lesson on Hawaiian, the language, which were both a fabulous bonus.

I’ve always had a sort of passive affinity for Hawaiian culture – that wonderful island life, about which I knew almost nothing. ¬†I was almost afraid to go to Hawai Ľi, for fear of finding that the wonderful world I’d imagined was no longer in existence. ¬†After living in Japan, even being in the countryside, I have learned the sort of balance that likely exists in the culture today. ¬†It is like cowboys in Texas. ¬†We have our big buildings and fancy cars and billboards, but you can still find, here and there, the true tradition. ¬†Sometimes, it is only seen in ceremonies. ¬†And sometimes it is part of someone’s everyday life.

My brother, though he rides and owns no horses, spends his days working on his land. ¬†Physical labor in jeans and surrounded by grass, trees, and animals is his life most days. ¬†And he grew up in the city. ¬†There are plenty of others who grew up living his kind of life, and who still do the ranching on horseback. ¬†Inside our city limits, no one would guess that that kind of life is just beyond our little area. ¬†The average person wouldn’t even cross it knowingly, if he went driving outside the city, either. ¬†You have to know how to find it. ¬†And that’s just how Japan was… When I think of Hawai Ľi now, that’s how I imagine it must be to a certain degree.

Anyway, ukulele is fun. ¬†I started it back in Japan, because I was lonely and didn’t have music in my life. ¬†Plus, Hawaiian culture seemed to be prominent in Japan (the reasons for which I hadn’t understood at first), so ukulele seemed an appropriate way to bring music into my life while in Japan. ¬†I even took a few hula lessons. ¬†(Yes, they were awesome.)

Actually, what really spawned my desire to learn hula and ukulele – not just the casual interest with which I first bought the ukulele, but the real desire that got me into lessons for hula and then, finally, for ukulele now – was a film. ¬†It was based in Hawai Ľi, and the caucasian daughter, maybe about 14 years old (I forget), did hula. ¬†The way she moved her arms in the dance had me gazing, melting, it was just so beautiful to me. ¬†Watching her dance, I had something happen within me. ¬†I guess, because she was not Japanese or Hawaiian, but¬†like me went through me head… I was able to see hula differently. ¬†It was, at last, something that it was acceptable for me to do.

I had seen Japanese friends perform wonderfully, and plenty of other Japanese women I don’t even know, too. ¬†But their close ties to Hawai Ľi made it okay for them to do it. ¬†It was regular and standard for them to be doing hula. ¬†But what – it isn’t “right”, but something like that, “reason” perhaps – reason does a German-heritage girl from Texas have for doing hula, without an extreme, intense love for it?

Maybe this is just my own brain that had me stuck in this thought process, but it just didn’t make enough sense to me to feel comfortable with pursuing hula. ¬†It felt to me like visiting a religious building for a region to which one does not belong and about which one knows very little. ¬†It isn’t that the person is not allowed. ¬†Not at all. ¬†It is just that the person can feel a little lost and uncertain when visiting, and so it can be difficult to visit in the first place, without having a sort of invitation. ¬†That’s kind of how I felt about hula.

And that movie helped alter that for me.  I started attending hula classes whenever I could, and began somewhat seeking out a ukulele teacher.

Eventually, nude in a hot spring bath in the mountains, I found one. ¬†And now, almost a year later, we finally are in the same country and with the same currency (that was the issue before), so we can do lessons. ¬†We aren’t anywhere near one another, of course, because I’m in Texas and she’s in Hawai Ľi, but it’s going well so far. ¬†Playing together is a bit weird, because of the lag, but I’ve worked with it for years with other things, so I’m somewhat accustomed to being slightly ahead of the beat and to hearing the clash of notes and timing, so that it sounds good on the other side. ¬†All-in-all, it was fun, and I look forward to the next lesson next week. ¬†ūüėÄ

So, go listen to a ukulele song today, and think of me, yeah? ¬†ūüėČ

P.S. ¬†Icicles were crashing outside my window during our lesson today. ¬†And this is Houston.¬† How cool is that?! ¬†Or warming, I guess…

IMG_2640

Post-a-day 2018

My very own “Pretty Woman” scene

You know the iconic shopping scene in “Pretty Woman”, where Julia Roberts tries on loads of fabulous outfits, and it just plain looks like a photo shoot? ¬†Right, well, if you don’t, I suggest you get on that cultural tidbit, because it’s fabulous. ¬†Anyway, so I remember a Cameron Diaz film having a sort of spoof on the scene, and, though I was somewhat unimpressed by the scene, I noticed a sense of something nigh to jealousy… envy with a little something more. ¬†I want to do what they were doing. ¬†I want to have my own BFF fake photo shoot at the clothing store, trying on amazing outfits, my subconscious cried.

And I’ve always remembered that, though I’ve never remember to¬†do anything about the silent wish I’d had that day. ¬†Tonight, as I was thinking of this one particular store where my family has shopped occasionally for most of my life, – it’s a discount outlet-type high-end clothing etc. store – I recalled a particular jacket that my cousin and I loved. ¬†And then I remembered how we had both put one on in the store, and taken photos together. And then, like a rush of memory, I recalled a whoosh of different pieces we all had tried on together, and the loads of photos we took. ¬†We had done our own “Pretty Woman” clothing store photo shoot, and I hadn’t even noticed. ¬†Why? ¬†Because we were just being ourselves. ¬†We were attempting to recreate something we’d seen elsewhere. ¬†We were just doing our own thing, being silly and fancy with high-end discount clothing etc. and having a wonderful time.

How cool is that?  I had hoped one day to copy the scene in my real life, but knew that it would be always that: a copy.  Instead, I got the real deal, and we had an actual spontaneous in-shop clothing photo shoot together.  Wicked.  I love life.  And family.  Especially family.

Post-a-day 2017

Kill Bill and Mailboxes


Have you ever seen ‚ÄúKill Bill‚ÄĚ?  It‚Äôs a spectacular film (and set, actually), and I fell in love with it when I was around the time of middle school.  My eldest brother was in college, and he had me watch it with him one time.  I was enthralled.  I couldn‚Äôt tell if I actually wanted to be like Uma Thurman in the film, or if I just liked marveling at her humbly.

It ended up being one of the few pieces of Japanese culture that has stuck with me (before I moved to Japan, that is).  Not that the film is Japanese itself – it just has Japanese things in it, specifically a samurai-like relationship to swordsmanship and fighting.  Quentin Tarantino was the first director whose name I remembered, as well as the first whose style I learned to identify.  I‚Äôm not sure I would have been a fan had I not seen Kill Bill as my first full exposure to him and his style.  However, I absolutely love his directing, and therefore end up loving movies that otherwise make little sense at my being a fan of them (blood and gore and anger are really not my thing).

All of this aside, however, something from the Kill Bill films stuck with me even stronger than anything else.  The scene where the money briefcase is opened, revealing loads of cash, and then, suddenly, as a chunk of cash is removed, a poisonous snake shoots out and bites the man who opened the case, killing him.  It is such a sudden event, and it includes such a confirmation of the guy‚Äôs mortality, that it hit me hard.  While I mentally am totally comfortable with the scene, I suppose there is a sort of psychological response that I had not anticipated would last for so long as it has: I don‚Äôt stand in front of the mailbox to open it.  I stand to one side, and open the box.  Then, I lean over to see inside the box, still at an angle to it.  Once I have verified the absence of any snake, I then reach in and pull out the mail.

This was an immediate response to having seen this scene.  It was intentionally done, each time I went to check the mail.  Now, more than 15 years later, I still do it.  I kind of chuckled at myself today, as I noticed that I was doing it, completely unaware of what I was in the process of doing – avoiding a snake attack.  I mean, seriously, a snake in my mailbox?  Possible, but insanely unlikely.

Like I mentioned, it might be something psychological deep down… but it also could be just that I grew so accustomed to doing it intentionally, that I ended up sticking with it unintentionally, even after the snake idea was long out of my mind.  I find the latter to be more likely than anything else.

But I could just be crazy.  That would explain a lot, I imagine. ūüėõ

Post-a-day 2017