Saturday, August 22, 2009

Max at Sea

I can imagine how much fun it was to write this one!
Max at Sea: is David Eggers' short story, which colors in the pictures drawn by Maurice Sendak in "Where the Wild Things Are." And, he colors outside the lines, which makes this more delightful to read.

By the way, I had mixed emotions about WTWTA when I was in kindergarten. I loved the creatures, the island, the boat.. I hated Max. I thought he was an obnoxious boy, who didn't listen and he talked back to his mother! How rude! When I was in my 20's I sought out the book to find that line that was so offensive. He had said to his mother "I'll eat you up!" That was it. In my mind, you never said something like that to an adult. And, I was sure that animal suit was smelly too.

So, now there's a film adaptation of the story. I just watched the trailer to this, and I'll have to say I'm intrigued because Max does not seem like the angry boy I described above, and as designed in Eggers' story. He seems like the lost dreamer who finds acceptance. The film looks beautiful and creatures are warm and cuddly, so my daughter will definitely enjoy this.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding Myself When I Knew Who I Was

Through Facebook, I got in touch with a friend from high school. I always remembered what she wrote in my yearbook - she would look forward to reading me in the New York Times. Well, that didn't exactly happen (not, yet that is!). In her note to me, after all these years, she remembers me as an artist.

Most people that know me today know me only as a writer, not an artist. My whole life I described my hobbies as "reading, writing and art." Actually, I was torn between art and writing, but I felt the urge to write was stronger. About 10 years ago, I decided to focus on my writing. And, once I got that going I'll go back to art. I'll take some courses, learn the proper way to water color, understand concepts. In my cubicle, I do have one of my watercolors hanging. I painted that in 1996.

This is not to say I haven't done anything creative - loved doing craft projects around the house. However, I haven't sat down to draw or paint. Now, my daughter is quite talented in writing and art. I'm blown away by her skills, especially at this age. Seeing her passion for drawing reminds me of the way I used to be. (Side note: there is a significant art gene in my father's side of the family, as a number of artists pop up among the cousins. Unfortunately, we don't have a strong math gene, hence the Kumon classes.)

Recently, a group of us started an arts & crafts group. This would be an excuse for the girls to come together once a month, sit and chat and do something creative. (I have to thank N. for taking the initiative to do this). She got simple wooden plates from Ikea, and we painted them in rangoli style. We didn't have time to do the details, so we took it away as homework. I got a white pen and would do a row or two every night while watching TV or talking. It was just soothing and it was a lovely distraction. The funniest part for me is that I noticed I was biting my bottom lip. When I drew or painted, I would always bite my bottom lip - it would be numb and/or swollen by the time I was done! Not only is art a soulful activity, there's a physical sense to it!
Here are pictures of the plate, and I'm still adding details. However, there has to be a point where I step back and stop. I'm going to move on to making some more plates/coasters.

More than having a pretty object, I'm really pausing now to think about who I was and who I am. Why am I not painting regularly? Well, technically speaking, I barely have time to write. How would I possibly paint? Row by row, perhaps? We've all seen Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture" video, and he talks about going back to your childhood dreams. I definitely didn't imagine myself doing what I do today when I was kid (Actually, I couldn't have imagined this when I was 30!).I've wanted to be a poet since I was 8, and I'm still trying to get that going. I knew myself as an artist and it got lost in the shuffle of life. So, let's see.. maybe this is the next phase of finding yourself. Going back to when you knew who you were.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life Lesson #1345 (Addendum)

I vowed after a fiasco last week at work that I will do what I know is right. I will not listen to others. Then, this morning, I listened to someone else and again, it back fired.

In the big picture, these two actions were small. Loopholes were found, which seemed justifiable for not doing them. Yet both of them led to bigger events. Doesn't an avalanche begin with one rock?

I have a saying posted on my monitor "Winners do what losers don't want to do." And, in these situation, I was listening to others who did not want to do something. I got this far by listening to my own voice, not others. They are not me. I am not them. I need to do what I know is right.

In our day to day activities, we'll always hit those moments when we have to decide what is right or wrong. I believe Bill Clinton said "Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should." (I'm terrible at direct quotes). There will always be temptations and doing what you have to do is not always what you want to do. But, you're better for it in the long run.

Addendum: I found the best quote: Doing what's right is not easy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Slate Podcasts

So, I have new friends. We haven't met, but we spend a lot of time together. I've gotten to know them well, though I can't always tell their voices apart. I laugh at their inside jokes as if I were one of them.. they remind me of people I know,but then I don't (I never tell my friends they are "churlish," as my Slate friends tell each other.)

I plug into and listen to my podcasts at work. I've written about this before, but I'm getting hooked onto Slate's political and culture gabfests. These are discussions between journalists/writers or whoever they are about the latest issues and news. They casually drop in "I read so and so's article in the Wall Street Journal about this.." I don't have time to read every single blog or article, so these are such wonderful people who filter it down for me.

I suppose this is the same type of familiarity anyone has with a celebrity, tv/radio hosts or anyone who enters your intimate space. You get a false sense of ownership and commradery.

Listening to my podcasts provides a nice relief within a hectic day. It allows me to gently escape from the stressful minutae of my world, and I'm reminded there is a world bigger than all that is on my plate.. I love the conflicting opinions and attitudes, which I can then share with my real world friends/family. Then I casually throw in the piece about the WSJ article.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Cooks Who Write and Writers Who Cook

So, it's not that I've ignored my blog readership - I just haven't had time or inspiration to blog (oh cursed the day that Facebook took over my waking hours!). After I saw "Julie & Julia" last night, I knew I had to get back on my blog.
Julie & Julia is such an easy and yummy movie to watch. Nora Ephron made the film interesting by paralleling the two stories, allowing them to dip in parts. You think they will cross over, but they don't. But, that's ok. That's real life.

The opening shot of Paris in 1950's made me melt. It seems all the elements were perfectly captured - the costumes, the culture, the buildings. And, of course, Meryl as Julia was so colorful and captivating, you were always looking forward to those sections over the darker Queens, NY sections. First of all, we are so lucky to live in the age of Meryl Streep. There's no actor who could transform into such a spectrum of characters (the only other one that comes to mind is Johnny Depp). Meryl decided she was going to make herself 6'2 and she did. Julia Child wasn't exactly the most graceful of women, and she showed that when she plunged her nose into dishes. Amy Adams' character was great, but she was "us" - the audience. The typical American stuck in a rote job and looking for an outlet, a boost. She takes the subway, she watches SNL and does other real people things. Her eggs fell and that let the audience know this was not an expert.
I saw this movie with a fellow blogger and we both cheered when Julie received her first comment. We know the excitement. We also know the uncertainty of blogging - "is anyone actually reading this? do you really care?"
I identified with her as a writer - struggling to balance everything and let writing take a lead role. I loved how she gave herself a deadline since that's my problem too. I need to know the start and end, so I can make everything happen in between.

I also identified with her as a cook, which I'm sure hit most people. We're holding our breathes hoping our dish will match the picture in the cookbook. By the way, I rarely follow a recipe exactly. I always improvise or add something else to it to make it more palettable. My husband prefers I follow it to the T else it's not Traditional (then it's Raditional, which sounds like Radical).

By the way, I had heard about Julie Powell when her book came out and loved the idea. Loretta Lynn said "You have to be first, best or different." Julia Child and Julie Powell did all three.

And, oh yeah. The food. This movie follows the tradition of food lust movies, which we all love - "Babette's Feast", "Eat Drink Man Woman." We don't have to cook anything, we don't have a kitchen to clean, we can smell and taste the food off the screen, and there are absolutely no additional calories consumed!