Monthly Archives: November 2008

On Mira Nair Movies and the Idea of Home

Anyone who has known me for any length of time, knows that I am not a big movie person and that I eschew TV completely. Due to the lack of TV, unless I rent a DVD and watch it on my computer, I don’t see movies.
But this last year, in an effort to join the rest of the human race, well – at least be up on some movies, I got a Netflix subscription to be able to watch some of the films that I have missed out in the last 25 years of luddite behavior. I have mostly received a movie or two a month from Netflix of which are either art house movies of the last two decades or movies of Jane Austin books or adaptions thereof.
Tonight, after the movie sat on a shelf since August unopened, I watched Mira Nair’sMississippi Masala“. I love Mira Nair films, esp. “The Namesake” and “Mississippi Masala”, as well as lighter fair such as “Monsoon Wedding“. Mira Nair hits the mixture of family, displacement, life changes, tradition vs. modernity, and identity on the head in her movies.
I have spent most of my life in Southern California, born here to folks who have been in SoCal for 3-5 generations. For all of my living in SoCal for most of my life, I come from a long line, on both sides, of folks with itchy feet. Folks who move frequently, both in&out of California and within California. Folks who travel. Folks for whom settling is really something that other people do. Even though we keep leaving, we always come back to California in one way or another. I love this big, crazy sprawled out cities within the city / metro area with all the people in the world who have also made this city their home.
While I love Los Angeles, I have always felt not of this place. I love the land fiercely, but am also fiercely frustrated by the transient nature of this space which causes folks to abuse it so badly or attempt to mold it into what they had before they moved here. I have spent most of my life not feeling like I match any of the majority cultures or sub-cultures.
As a short, brown haired, brown eyed woman in a region that celebrates the blond beach bunny or blonde starlet du jour, I have felt culturally displaced most of my life. Did I mention that by and large, I dislike Hollywood? Maybe it is my dislike of the stereotypes that Hollywood pushes out to the rest of the world that makes me so fiercely reject watching or consuming their products. More than just maybe.
Most of my Netflix watching this last year has been British, Italian, or Indian films or films made by British, Italian or Indian folk who live in other places. Not so odd that.
What I like about Mira Nair films, is while they celebrate the Indian expatriate or migrant experience, she also keenly shows us characters that are trying to navigate cultural spaces that are not always home. Ms. Nair’s films focus on the experience of characters who are navigating the waters of cultural otherness all the while they are fighting for their own space in that place and discovering their identity between two worlds.
When I watch a Mira Nair film brings into sharp focus a question that I ask myself almost every day, really where is home?
I haven’t found it, yet, I yearn for home with all my heart.

Not Your Daddy’s Bob

Not Your Daddy's Bob

Sat 11.22.08 – Very amusing window dressing at a hair salon on Main St. I love the juxtaposition of Nick Notle’s DUI police photo with Chairman Mao, George Washington, James Brown and Michael Jackson. The question my Mom and I had upon viewing this tableaux, is who is the fellow on the far left?

Best Time: Early, Mid, or Late Bird?

When I was very young I was a serious early bird, popping up each day around 5:30am and going to bed by 8pm. My best hours of energy and alertful-ness was between 5:30am and 10am. As I aged into teen-twenties-hood, my body clock flipped where my best hours were in the evening and I struggled to wake up any time before 8am, even for school.
Now as an adult, I find that I like to go to bed around midnight and I wake up, depending on the light & the situation, between 6:30am and 9am. When I wake up, I am usually up and peppy. Sometimes I wake up wanting to sing, and I do.
Over the years, my energy levels have somehow melded between my childhood early bird and my teen-twenties late bird. In the last few years, I have lots of energy and concentration from 7am to noon and then again 5pm to 9/10pm. Even more interesting, to me, is that I do my best writing in the mornings and my best designing/coding in the evenings. Afternoons are a bit of a loss for any task of concentration other than talking and reading.
When I was writing my masters thesis, I did my draft writing in the mornings, my further research/reading in the afternoon, and my rewriting in the evening, with insertions of 15-30 minute procrastination/fun breaks at odd times.
I have a list of things that I want to write “longish”, thoughtful blog posts about, but I keep telling myself that I can’t blog until I have finished my allotted work for the day/evening. If I let myself blog when I am most “on” for writing, I feel guilty, as if I am cheating a client or myself or some schoolmarm in the sky. If I do like I have done for the last week and wait until after 10pm to blog, I know I have a whole *real* post in me, but I can’t concentrate long enough to do anything other than vaguely think of the title of the topic and certainly I have not been able to write about it.
I can write about writing late at night. I can write about funny stuff or what happened that day. But if I want to write about, flesh out, and make a good argument for an idea or larger essay, well that is morning work.
I need to get over my blogging vs. real work guilt complex and start allowing myself two hours every morning or at least four mornings a week to write out all the big ideas in my head. Starting tomorrow. Maybe Sunday…

On Getting Over Yourself

A few weeks ago my brother went to a funereal of a fellow* we both knew in high school. At said event, another fellow that we had gone to junior and senior high school asked after me. When my brother reported that so&so asked after me, I was very surprised.
Me: “Really, he asked after me?”
Joe: “Yes, he did.”
Me: “But he was SO mean to me in school and even at our 10 year reunion.”
Joe: “Well, I guess he got over himself.”
Me: ((disbelief))
Fast forward to this evening’s family pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinner** with the family. Me, wearing my favorite pink sweater and a pair of comfy (read roomy) black jeans.
My Aunt: “I love your sweater… Have you lost weight?”
Me: Looks down at said comfy/room pants and pulls out waistband to show lots of room. “No”
Aunt: “But you look like you have lost weight!”
Me: nonplussed, “No, I just like these jeans because they are roomy.”
Aunt: “Oh, with your figure you must always have room at the waist.” (Aunt is not being a witchy here, she is just referring to the fact that my figure is hour-glass and modern fitting jeans never fit).
Me: “I am used to pants not fitting, it has been this way for years, nearly 30 years now.”
Aunt: “You are over yourself now.”
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, 40 years old must be the official demarcation line, not between youth and middle age, but between being full of oneself and being over oneself.
Notes:
div class=”note”* Somehow a fairly simple procedure descended into MRSA-flesh-eating-bacteria-dead-at-39.
** At my mother’s mother’s house and conducted because we are all going to separate places on Thanksgiving.