Friday, August 20, 2010


While at a magic show at a recent birthday party, I started mulling over the concept of magic.

This magician was tall, moustached and average looking. I'm sure he has a regular job as reliable citizen of society. On weekends, he breaks out his red vest and tie and becomes a Magician. He captures the attention of children and excites them by bringing them into the spotlight as assistants. He tells corny jokes and charms the audience with his sleight of hand tricks.

Magic is intriguing because it is an act that engages performer and audience. If audience doesn't believe, performer has no reason to be there. He's got little eyes upon him who believe and follow his lead, gulping down each action as factual.The ball disappears and turns into a bird. That's obvious and true.

For adults, we watch a trick for the first time and think "Wow, that's so cool! He really did that!"

He does something again, and we think "Ok, now how did he do that?" You look for a fist hiding something or try to peer into the bag and check for double pockets.

And, let's say you do realize how he's doing his trick, you're suddenly bored. You've lost that belief in him that he is doing the Impossible and remember he's just regular guy who has a reliable day job.

Therefore, in order to truly enjoy magic, we have to suspend our criticism and analytical way of looking, and stop trying to figure everything out. We really have to look at it as factual as opposed to a problem that must be solved.

By the way, this magic show was exceptionally difficult as I had left my phone across the room. I fought hard against getting up play with it during the show. In the end, I just waited and tried to live in the moment.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

They Came for Them

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.
- Martin Niemöller

There's a lot of coverage in the media about the Park51controversy - aka "Ground Zero Mosque" about which Sarah Palin, Newt Gringrich and other extremist opinion leaders are buzzing. The building being constructed is neither a mosque nor at Ground Zero. It's not being built atop the rubble; it's an existing building that has been used for interfaith prayers and is being renovated to capture more functions. There are mosques that already exist in lower Manhattan. Here are some pictures of the area and it's definitely not the "hallowed ground" as it's being promoted. As soon as you enter NYC, it's obvious that it's the most multicultural city in the US. You hear different languages and you can see vast diversity in people.

The extremist opinion leaders need "a theme" to spoon feed fear to public. It could be Obama's birth certificate or death panels. It's unfortunate because the people who accept this probably do not know Muslims or New Yorkers. Rather than extinguishing these flames, CNN and other media outlets pour kerosene upon it by highlighting this as a controversy, rather than xenophobia. Bloggers are saying it's not "American" to have mosque built because it will promote violence and jihadism, and it will disrespect the memory of those who died on 9/11. It would be important to remember that people of all religions and races died in those buildings --  Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Catholics, Protestants to name a few. When the buildings fell that day, my thoughts turned to all the folks running those newstands and Dunkin Donuts on the lower level.

I was shocked to hear a caller on the radio say that Muslims would instill sharia law in the US and not follow the Constitution. Why, this is just the first step on that road to craziness! We'll be donning burkas and Taliban will set up shop on Pennsylvania Avenue. After all, our President's name is Hussain and we don't know where his birth certificate is.

If these people had talked to a Muslim in the US, they would see that they want to be recognized as Americans. They're in the US because they believe in the American dream. It's a shame that some Americans don't realize how fortunate they are, but allow themselves to perceive themselves as victims. 

Had the terror attacks been performed by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and the Irish wanted to build an Irish Catholic community center a few blocks from the site, would this be an issue? If a Hindu lunatic conducts an act of terror, should the rest of the Hindu community not be allowed to convene? This is why we have to speak now.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Sorry -- one final comment about Palin:
“If the purpose of this mosque, as we are lead to believe, is to create this tolerant environment, to avoid anything like a 9/11 ever repeating, you have to ask why didn't one of those 100 [existing] mosques already accomplish such a thing,” Palin said.

That's so funny.. I've wondered if she had raised her children with such "traditional strong family values," how did her daughter get pregnant in high school and have a boyfriend who has become become a talk show boy toy? The 'abstinance only' church sermons didn't accomplish such a thing did it? Hmm.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Patience - It's All About You

One of my greatest assets is my patience. My colleagues are always impressed with how calm and focused I am. I don't like drama at all and dubbed myself the 'anti-drama queen'. Really, what is the purpose? When you create drama, you bring the spotlight to yourself. This drains everyone's energy, including yours since you have to sustain this attention-sucking disorder. I'm patient at home with my husband and child. This is not to say I don't do my fair share of freaking out at 8:30 before the school bus comes or during violin practices when my daughter doesn't focus. I probably should be less patient with some colleagues, but I understand their position.I'm probably the most hardest on myself than others. By the way, because I am so patient, it often gets misconstrued that I don't care about a situation. Ironically, it is because I do care and have a strong belief in it that I can be patient.

The key is to keep everything in perspective when unexpected situations arise. How important is this issue when you zoom outwards? What would be the worst thing if you are 5 minutes late standing in line? Is it really that awful?

When I find myself being angry and impatient, I ask "why" until I can whittle down the answers.
      "Why am I angry at her for eating breakfast so slowly?"
       Because we are running late.
      "Why are we running late?"
       Because we should have woken up 15 minutes earlier.
      "Why didn't we wake up early?"
By drilling down, I realize my anger is not at her for eating slow, but at me for not waking up early.

The important thing about patience is to lose our judgement of others. It's so easy to blame others - the 'moron' driving slow in the left lane, technology for failing, clients not providing full and timely requirements. It's everyone else's fault, but our own.

Why do we judge others so harshly? We expect perfection and absolute stellar performance each and every time. And, when that fails, we become impatient and angry.

When you're angry and impatient, it's because you feel out of control. This is all a choice. You can choose to be angry or choose to let go. If people realized this little fact and implemented this as a mindset, it would change everything.

I've taken the perspective to look at delays as something important. A friend commented on her FB status that she sat in the doctor's office for 1.5 hours. However, she finally learned to use her iPhone. This is really the way the universe forces us to slow down. We were recently stuck in traffic en route to a family event. We were anxious in the car thinking it was badly planned construction traffic flow. However, there was nothing we could do but sit. When we moved up more, we saw that it was an tractor trailer accident. Obviously this was unintentional and unplanned. We said our prayers for those involved. We reached our event and learned everyone was behind schedule! Stewing in the car for 30 minutes would not have helped. Also, people don't remember what time we rushed in, but that we were present and participated in the event.
By the way, by accepting these delays, we are taking control of our situation. We are not allowing the traffic or the doctor to control our temperment, but ourselves.

I have a lot of thoughts on this topic and various scenarios that are too lengthy to detail. In the end, it is all about you and how you choose to accept or reject a situation.

Wanted: Muse Who Can Water Ski

Sign of a bad blogger: clicking on my own website and being surprised by the template change I did a few weeks ago!

I suppose the vibrant colors feed the need for energy in my life. With my subdued colors, I was looking for peace. I've been consumed by a lot of activity in my real life the past few months, which caused me to suppress my creative writing and blogging. I read a good quote on writer's block that it only seems to inflict writers who have day jobs. True, if my income subsisted on my productivity of my writing, I'm sure I'd find a way to overcome it.

I've always been happy not blending my professional career with my writing, as it extends the leash for creativity. It's like being on water skiis. One foot on the creative platform while another is technology/management. Unfortunately, it's been hard to maintain balance with work taking more of the effort - leaving me to balance on one foot without the the creative outlet to sustain me on the other side. All the while, I hold onto the rope/boat, which represents my family - never letting go.

I tried all the tricks of the experts - keep writing jibberish, pick random words, go out and do something else, etc. I tried to read other poets and exceptional writers to be inspired. Instead, I felt more depressed that it was so easy for them to be so talented. Maybe I've been fooling myself all along thinking I was a writer. Then I would read some of my own work and be surprised.

What worked for me was talking to other people, engaging in discussions for topics that were outside my normal scope of work/home. It was as if someone cranked up the gears in my brain and it started ticking again. Very slowly.

What I needed to do was use my peripheral vision. I was focused on what was exactly straight in front of me. Writers and artists need to look at what is to their sides and find what others are missing. So, rather than writing exercises, I should have been doing eye exercises!

Friday, August 06, 2010

Vampires, vampires everywhere and not a drop of blood to drink..

The vampiremania is just too much for me to handle. Firstly, I have to say I am a vampire fan. Back in late 90’s, I was right there with Anne Rice and LeStat, the lean rockin’ vampire. I was a vampire for Halloween my senior year of college. I loved Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and craved prequels and sequels to the classic story. I tried to fall for Keanu as Jonathan Harker and Tom Cruise as LeStat, but I prefer my men real and vampires literary.

Secondly, I must state that I have not fallen victim to the current wild trend of vampire stories. Haven’t read “Twilight” and feel less inclined to do so after seeing the movie. I've wanted to get engaged with "True Blood", but I missed the beginning and now I believe it might be difficult to join midstream.

My real problem with the cinematic vampires is the whole blood thing since I'm not into gore. Somehow it's easier to accept reading a vampire saying "I have to feed" than actually watching him feed and come back all bloody or hanging over a dead body. That was the cool thing about Rice's vampires - some were happy with small animals.

With so many choices these days, I decided not to make a choice. I pulled "Dracula" off my shelf and decided to reread. I had read this years ago, some time after college. I had read "Frankenstein" for a number of English lit classes and loved it. Shelley's book is a beautiful story about relationships, responsibilities, desires and emptiness. There are underlying themes of parenting. So, when I landed upon Bram Stoker's book, I simply figured it'd be similar. Sure, why not?

Well once I started reading this, I was quite surprised! What the bloody hell -- people are dying? Ok, I'm really creeped out by this vampire that changes forms and climbs the walls outside window. I was genuinely surprised by the fear evoked by this story.

When I read this again, I had to laugh at my notes in the margins, which were obviously leftover from my English major days. For example, there is a scene where a female vampire kidnaps a child and laughs wickedly and luredly at Jonathan. I wrote "antithesis of motherhood... excessive sexuality is animal.." (Oh wow.. I totally missed that link.. glad I wrote that note! Didn't realize I was so astute!)

Stoker's "Dracula" is one of my favorite books for its use of narrative. Every chapter is either a diary or a letter of sorts. It did seem funny that Lucy had the blood sucked out of her, yet she managed to scribble her encounter on paper.

Nonetheless, the feminist themes in this book are quite evident. I loved how the men remarked that Mina was a woman with a man's brain. She's probably the most practical person in the mix, and rather than a straight forward compliment, it has to be in context with her gender. Sexual politics and desires are also evident in this book (e.g., women are proper ladies, until they are defiled by the vampire and become sexually aggressive).I don't want to turn this blog into one of my old term papers from 19th century English lit. But there's definitely lots of material in this book.

By the way, I also found the xenophobia intriguing. Dracula is from Translyvania creeping into English society. On the other hand, Quincy & Van Helsing are American and Dutch, respectively. Van Helsing's "foreignness" is important because he has knowledge of other cultures and practices.
The most exciting part of reading "Dracula" is remembering this is where it began. In 1897, the idea of an un-dead man sleeping in a coffin was new.  Today, it seems obvious to us that is where all vampires are found. All the traits of a vampire - lack of reflection, fear of sunlight, the elongated canine teeth - are identified in this book. I don't know if Stoker took these from folklore or took artistic license to invent them.

Of course, vampyric folklore has always been around. There was evidence of vampire stories circulating in the regions. Theyv've even discovered vampires in Indian folktales. What ties these together is the innate human fear of the dead stealing life from the living. There is the fear of untimely death. This fear embeds itself into different cultures.

What I find fascinating about my interest in vampires is that I don't believe in them. I don't read ghost stories or alien encounters because I do believe in them. With vampires, it's so far off that it's unfathomable. Hence, it feeds my imagination even more. If I were to write a vampire story, I know the first task is to create "rules of engagement."