Thursday, January 31, 2013

Disney's Paperman

I'm a sucker for Disney movies. I know they're for children, but damn if they don't hit you right in the gut. My friends and I recently drove down to Virginia Beach again to meet our friend's handsome little baby and we were treated to not one, but two Disney films: Tangled and The Princess and the Frog. Don't ask if her four-year-old daughter was even around for the majority of it.

This week, Disney released its Oscar-nominated silent short Paperman online in its entirety and it features a new art technique that seamlessly blends CGI with hand-drawn animation. The result is quite gorgeous and the story, about a New York City missed connection, is based on the tried-and-true, but with a sweet twist.

P.S. It totally reminds me of Signs, another short film released in 2009.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Last week, I went out to see the Oscar-nominated film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Set in a rundown Louisiana bayou cut off from the rest of the world by a levee, the story follow 6-year-old Hushpuppy as she tries to make sense of her life in the rundown Bathtub community. Her mom is no longer in the picture and her ailing father, Wink, has compensated with a tough love that's touching and yet painful to watch at times. Hushpuppy is left to retreat into her imagination while holding fast to what little she understands.

Tiny actress Quvenzhané Wallis is so wonderful to watch (off-screen as well), no wonder she's been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, the youngest one yet. Now you might wonder how much acting a 5-year-old is capable of and if she was just fed her lines and actions bit by bit, but no matter because she just wraps you up with her facial expressions alone. Her interactions with her daddy, played by Dwight Henry, reduced me to tears.

All of that said, on our train ride home, A. turned to me and asked, "Did you understand the movie?" I gave plausible explanations to the plot before I had to admit that no, I didn't entirely get it either. It had moved me and all, but there were some blanks that would be nice to have filled in for some closure. But seeing as the film has already garnered praise and awards and is in the running for Oscars in Best Picture, Best Director, Lead Actress, and Adapted Screenplay, perhaps everyone else has understood something we clearly missed.

Have you watched it yet? Did you get it?


Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Flowers

A few times a week, A. will pick me up a flower, send a midday photo text during lunch, and then present me with his gift at the end of the day. He began doing this in November after noticing that the florist next to his new job asked passersby to take a fallen bud from a table. Even though he says it takes him no effort or money, I not only adore the gesture, but have come to appreciate the thought he puts into styling each flower for its shot.

Three years in, it's a cute and lovely surprise. The man who's never been into the flowers, the chocolates, or any of that romantic Valentine's Day hoopla, has me suddenly smiling and feeling as if I'm being wooed all over again.

Images: dontfeedanimals on instagram

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Being True

These days I've been trying to become more in tune with my gut. To listen closely and then not go against what it's asking me to do out of sheer stubbornness.

When there's a decision to be made, I think we usually know what we're pulling for. It's like that trick where you flip a coin and before it even lands in your heart you already know what you're wishing for. I know I do. The asking for other's opinions and seeking advice on what to do sometimes just serves as validation, reassurance that it's okay to want what we want, to do what we want to do, that later on we won't find ourselves peeking over our shoulder to discover we're standing alone. (It also gives a direction to point a finger towards if things go awry.)

But I go against my own grain. There's several reasons for it - seeking attention, pity, comfort, unrealistic expectations, this crazy notion that everyone else comes first, etc. - but at the end of it all I just end up feeling unsettled, as if I'm not quite comfortable with where I am, who I'm with, or what I've agreed to. All because I couldn't be true to myself.

How much more happier would I be if I were always doing what I truly wanted? Instead of going out of my way to meet up with someone on a hectic day, I could just spend a quiet evening at home and be completely unapologetic about it. I wouldn't have to shuffle between excuses or relenting, but rather affirmations and acceptance, standing firmly in honesty.

Being authentic means being open about makes you you. Because if you can't even stand up for what makes you tick, then how will anyone get to know who you truly are?

Image: kal barteski

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In a Swirl of the Classical

I've never been a regular listener of classical music, but in the last week have suddenly taken to it like a feather grabs the wind. It's been one those things you never knew you craved until you get that first shiver and suddenly you're swirling waywardly about in its clutches, leaping, crying out for more. It soothes my mind to such mesmerizer that if I close my eyes I can almost feel the pirouettes on my brain. Can I admit that I've nearly been brought to tears at the realization that such emotion could emerge from the fragile strings of a violin?

I always thought I needed lyrics to sing along to in order to feel connected to the music, but it isn't so. Now unless I look at the title of the composition, I wouldn't know if I'm listening to German, Italian, or French because it's all one and the same: concentrated beauty, bouncing between the space of heavy and light, making its mark through the air.

Classical music blends in too well. It so easily fades into the back of my consciousness until I come back to during an arrestingly beautiful moment and realize that it'd been playing all along. The music is happy to exist without competing for attention. It isn't exhausting nor jealous, but simply breathes and in turn allows you to flow freely through its space, at your own time.

When the music is over, the silence feels so still. Just like the darkness is defined by an absence of light, there's music and then, a sudden void when the movement has passed on.

Do you listen to classical music? Which composers do you love?


Monday, January 14, 2013

Birthday: Celebrated

On Friday I begun my 31st birthday by receiving some relieving news (the cancer is not genetic!) and ended my special day surrounded by family, friends, and really good Thai food. I felt like such a cool kid sitting there knowing that everyone came out to celebrate me. Even the close friends who couldn't join us for dinner, but instead swung by the restaurant just to give me a tight hug or joined us at the bar later on to spend a few hours with the group, made me feel happy, loved, and these days I couldn't have needed a better gift. Their time, kindness, and laughter is what's gotten me through the weeks and while my friends have really come through one-on-one, to see everyone gathered at one table was really humbling. I couldn't believe my luck at having cultivated all these beautiful little circles of friends who have been cheering me on through the night. Where would I even be without them?

Image: print via

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thoughts of Grandeur

When I went in for my lumpectomy on Friday I decided that I was going to put on my tough girl outfit and face this like a superhero. Although I was extremely nervous (and my morning injection for an axillary sentinel lymph node biopsy burned like hell), I wanted to pew! pew! past the fear, joke around with my mom and sis, and let everyone keeping tabs know that they could relax. Homegirl's got this.

I needed to act all "boom pow!" and put people at ease because in turn I needed them to be strong for me. If I showed them that this was no biggie, then they could feed that idea right back to me. And it worked. Through Facebook comments, text messages, and phone calls, I had a steady flow of kickass positivity that kept me going until those final minutes when I was ushered into the creepy operating room and laid out like Jesus on the table. My body shook from the nerves and cold, but before I could even start counting from 10, I was waking up, in tears, and looking up at my family.

This stage was finally over. I didn't have to pretend anymore.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How Do You Nurture Yourself?

If there's something that I've learned since my surgery on Friday, which supposedly went well even though I woke up crying and feeling like crap, it's that an anesthetic is one hell of a drug and I'm incapable of giving myself what I need. Instead of resting up like I was ordered to do, I spent my weekend getting up early, shuffling around in my PJ's doing randomness around the house, and then getting so annoyed when I was physically incapable of doing certain things. Laying in bed all day is such a waste, I'd protest, until Monday came along and found myself so exhausted during work I could barely stay awake.

This week, I was a total grumpkin and there was very little anyone could do to improve my mood. I was taking my frustrations out on others and the more they tried to help the more I dug my heels into the ground in absolute hmpf! I was a walking thundercloud surrounded by electric triggers and all I wanted was to be left alone. Why couldn't they understand that I had no time for music and peace when life sucks and then you die?! Or better yet, why couldn't I see my emotions for what they were and pull a U-ey right back to normality?

"You have absolutely no love for yourself sometimes. No allowance to indulge yourself. No headspace to fall into and relax," A. said to me today.

I don't allow it because I don't believe I deserve it. The kind gestures I offer others I rarely tuck away for myself. I don't nurture my soul or fiercely embrace the things that bring me joy as if life danced along the strings that tie those moments together. After being asked to write down what soothed me or took me to my happy place, I thought of one thing…and then drew a blank. Here, I'm giving it another shot because I need to remember that there are many, many more:

doodling with abandon • writing/receiving letters • hot baths • my curls the day after I've washed them • classical music • fireworks • and for that matter, orgasms • oil massages • other people's babies • flowers (by the way, did you know ramos is Spanish for bouquet?) • Ferrero Rochers and itty bitty cupcakes • being the little spoon • fruit smoothies • really good fiction • candles • sleep

So tell me, how do you nurture yourself? Do you treat yourself to little indulgences from time to time to keep your spirit on fire?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

A Bad(Ass) Perspective

They say with major life change comes an inner awakening, a shift in priorities, and clarity when it comes to distinguishing the negligible from what truly matters. Well guess what? Still waiting! I still shook my fist at the gods when I lost my left hand glove. Perspectives gained from health scares be damned, I paid a lot for that pair.

While the idea of this glowing Zenful Dorkys suddenly emerging from this batch of bullshit like a lotus in the swamp sounds lovely, let's be real. I'm not about to contort my body into pretzel poses under the sun or start toasting with wheatgrass shots for good health. A vegan lifestyle sounds as appealing as a jog through the frigid cold at 5 in the morning and if I can't enjoy a glass of Riesling or a juicy burger when I'm out with my friends, then you might as well just go ahead and hook a perma-IV to my arm.

To be honest, it also feels silly and clich√©d to ride on the coattails of cancer and completely turn my life around simply because I've been diagnosed. Plus, it's hard to bust out all doot-doo-doo! with my superhero cape flying in the wind when inside I feel more like a womp, womp wreck. My stubbornness is also what keeps me from buying into the Sudden Metamorphosis scenario. I refuse to have cancer steal my thunder in any subsequent self-improvement that might occur and Lord help anyone twisted enough to say that this was some sort of gift that changed my life for the better.

When my iPhone broke its face making out with the pavement yesterday, I spewed out a cocktail of vulgarities before finally trying to reason with myself. "Okay Dorkys, it really sucks that you'll have to pay a lot to get the screen replaced, but isn't it better than the $5,622 the hospital was trying to charge you for Friday's surgery?" Psh, better believe I still fumed for most of the day.

When will the natural tendency to let things go kick in? And how can I be calm, forgiving, and wanting to take on the world when I'm still so angry and sad about what's happening to me? "Be a badass." A. said to me today. "Life sucks and can really fuck you up sometimes, but you have to be better than that. You have to be a bigger badass than life."

I wonder what will be left standing in my place when all the dust settles down: a badass or just bad luck personified?

P.S. Here's A.'s take on our new motto.