28 August 2011

May the Force Be With You... And Also with You

Advance warning: this is not the clearest or even most interesting post I've ever written. I'm tired, and probably should have held onto this puppy for further elaboration and editing before posting it, but I'm impatient to discover what, if anything it means. Try to be kind.

I had a perplexing dream last night.

(Brief pause for some Choose Your Own Adventuring. If you're thinking: Who didn't have a perplexing dream last night!, proceed straight to the comments and tell us about yours. If you are feeling mildly curious because you think dreams are fascinating, read on because I share some of my own totally non-scientific research into the interpretation of dreams below. If you're wondering: Is there anything more boring/annoying/nauseating than other people's dreams?, thank you for playing; we have some lovely parting gifts for you, and Vaya con Dios.)

I've recently discovered, according to scientist Stanley Krippner, one-time head of the Maimonides Dream Laboratory which studied the psychic potential in dreaming (can you believe such a study could be scientific?),  that psychic dreams differ from ordinary dreams. In your run-of-the mill garden-variety dream, you are a participant. Stuff (usually weird, or is that just me?) happens to you. You interact with characters in a setting, and events transpire. In psychic dreams, however, you are merely an observer; you see things, but you don't have anything to do with the action, if there is action at all. I've had one of the latter lately, after a long frustrating phase of not being able to dream for weeks. I dreamed of twin tigers, and they may as well have been a stock photo. They didn't move, didn't make a sound, there was no background, nothing happened. I woke up and felt a little cheated, to be honest, until Stanley set me straight and made me think there was more going on.

The dream that currently vexes me I had around 4:55 this morning. I've also read (though I can't document the source) that morning, close to waking dreams tend to be problem solving dreams, your subconscious' suggestions for unsticking yourself from day-to-day dilemmas. Middle of the night, deep sleep dreams, on the other hand,  tend to be more metaphysical, speaking to you on a grander scale. They tend to impart more significant meaning. I'm not sure where I'd put 4:55 am, but that's when I woke up from my dream this morning.

In my perplexing dream, I called someone, with zero intention of actually speaking to them (kinda like in junior high when you'd harass the person you had a crush on by calling them just so you could hear their voice, or something. Who know what Jackie Choi and I hoped to achieve back then? My sincerest apologies to the family of DC and JK for all the giggling, heavy breathing and hang-ups.) The person I called didn't answer, a mutual friend did. And she told me "the secret to understanding this person is..."

.... are you drum rolling? Get those drumsticks going, please, because, as someone who makes a point of understanding human motivation, that's pretty much how my heart started beating when she dangled the tantalizing carrot before me...

"... Battleship Gallactica".

Yes, I know the show was called Battlestar Gallactica. But Battleship (sic) Gallactica is precisely what she said in the dream. Funny thing is, removing the meaning one further layer from logical waking thought, when she said 'Battleship Gallactica', I instantly saw this:

The Millenium Falcon.

Now why on God's green earth would I dream about the ship that made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs?

Is it because because I'm a sci-fi geek? Negatory. Is it because I'd read on Facebook that a friend was taking his son to Star Wars day at the Zoo? Possibly. Because Star Wars speaks to us all, taps into our collective unconscious? Sure, why not. Because someone recently said of me "The force is strong with this one"? Mayhaps. Because my little sister was a Star Wars fanatic, and prohibited my ever touching her toy version of the MF? Who knows.

All I declare is that it doesn't yet make sense. Maybe eventually it will.

In the meantime, I'm keeping my eyes peeled for clues. I got one, too: later in the day I stepped into a shoe store I hadn't really intended to visit. Once in, I spied a pair of amazing olive green sneakers. I picked them up and discovered they were, you guessed it! Han Solo limited edition high tops. (I said it was a clue, not the answer. Figuring out synchronicity takes patience.)

So if you've hung on through all my navel-gazing this long, by all means, make it more interesting for yourself and tell me: have you ever dreamed about Star Wars? And what, pray tell, did it mean to you?

12 August 2011

Look around you: Art/Magic is Everywhere

Are you a morning person or a night owl? I consider myself a lark; that is, I feel my best self in the morning hours. I guess my daughter is, too, because most mornings she sounds off her toddler-reveille between 6 and 6:45 am. Not an ungodly hour, by any means.  For a non-negotiable wake up time, however, 6-something certainly falls on the earlier side. And so the system we've developed is to ease into a more salubrious hour of the day with a solid block of pre-school appropriate television, accompanied by coffee (for the grown ups). We have DVRed every episode of her favorite show and every morning we watch at least one episode. If you have a toddler (or just look like one) you will likely be familiar with the entertainment juggernaut that is Yo Gabba Gabba!, from whence this clip derives.

08 August 2011

Bahia or Bust: PART THREE Samba Seeps In

If you're just jumping on board VJR for the first time, you'll want to read the two previous installments of this series here

Ana's class. Brasil Brasil Cultural Center. I have to force myself into the crowded room, onto the uneven floors. Most of the women fall somewhere on the skin tone spectrum between caramel and ebony. I am prepared to flaunt my pretty pretty ButterflyPony dance moves, as perfected under the tutelage of Monica. But this teacher, this Ana, gives us no choreography. She works us like a drill sargeant, sending us in warm-up laps around the room. She leads us in floorwork and I think my heart will, no kidding, bruise the back of my ribs. My breath is ragged and sharp like broken glass in my windpipe. "You guys are just warming up. You're not dancing yet", she bellows in her lilting Brazilian-Portuguese accent, which seems to soften, slightly, the insult.

26 July 2011

Bahia or Bust: PART TWO In Which Our Heroine Finds Herself Falling Into Every Cultural Imperialist- and Chick Flick/Lit-Cliche in the Book

IN our last chapter,Bahia or Bust, I explained the genesis of my fascination with Brasil. Here, the fascination takes root.

The last place anyone would expect to get bored would be a successful international art and erotica publisher. But circa 2005, that was me. My job was to hunt down world-class celebrities (politicians, spiritual leaders, actors, athletes and rock stars from the 1960's onward), convince them to participate in our project,

then ship enormous pages of a book (literally the size of a coffee table) for them to autograph, while ensuring those precious signed pages came back  in one piece. It was fun, but not entirely engaging my creative side. I needed an outlet.

12 July 2011

Bahia or Bust: PART ONE Beats, Beauty and Brazil

Lots of us, if we are lucky or willing enough to admit it, experience some sort of irrational affection for a place we know nothing about. Just the sound of the name of the place, one photo in an encyclopedia or on a travel poster is like a beacon, a promise. Some put it down to a past life association that manifests in this life in inexplicable ways: Mr. B suffers from a near total lack of direction, but when in Bangkok he always knew exactly where he was on the labyrinthian streets he'd never once visited before. For instance.

03 July 2011

The brain is very happy when you're focused on LOVE

"The brain is very happy when you're focused on what you LOVE. The more you focus on what you truly love and desire, the volume gets turned down in those parts of the limbic system where the destructive emotions of fear, anger, depression & anxiety are controlled. This allows you to think more clearly." ~ Neuroscientists @University of Pennsylvania's Center for Spirituality.

Happiness: It's in the Bag

Hedonic adjustment: just a fancy way of saying that the things that make you happy right now probably won't 5 minutes, 5 days and especially 5 months from now. I know full well of the theory that humans are wired to acclimate to the highs of new sources of happiness, until they wear off completely and we are forced to go out looking for something else to get us Up. I'm well familiar with it. And on a mission to move beyond it as best I can, in fact. But in the meantime, I'm on one of those hedonic highs; so let me introduce you to the current cause.

20 June 2011

Day Dreams of L.A.

Say what you will about Los Angeles, you've got to admit it is the American capital of good weather. People come here from around the globe to bask in our temperate Mediterranean zone and unrivaled 3,000 hours of annual sunshine. In the immortal words of Joe Walsh, however, "I can't complain but sometimes I still do". Though I try not to whine much, somehow I manage to find something to bitch about most days regarding our supposedly perfect climate.

We Finally Got a Piece of the Pie (a la mode)

Well, it's official, readers; we're movin' on up.  VJR Headquarters has transplanted, relocated, uprooted. You can now get your fill of the contents of my brain here, at my very own site: www.vivajoyriot.com.  

Thanks to my cousin J,  I am now the proud owner of my own domain.  He had the brilliant idea to host my site, and only a year and a half later, I've finally taken him up on the offer (three cheers for better late than never: Hip Hip, hooo...

08 June 2011

How Can I Be Sure of You

For your visual and aural consumption today I submit one of the world's best songs, by Harry Nilsson. If you aren't familiar with him, you can find him filed under MUSICAL GENIUS, in the "Woefully Under-appreciated" section, under the subset "Died penniless, way too early".  Beware however, this stellar song is set to possibly the world's worst video, if measured in terms of visual quality and relevance to subject matter.

It's non sequitor-ialness evokes that genre of film I always secretly loved and wanted to create: the karaoke video. (Which apparently now I can!)

If I were a musical arranger like Nelson Riddle (whose name should have been a character in a novel, by the way) I'd work Nilsson's version together with the song of the same name, originally by the Young Rascals. I tried to find a good live version of that song, but stumbled onto a better performance by Dusty Springfield. (I love when a woman makes a man's song her's, a la Peggy Lee). As soon as I find a time machine and book myself a job as a lounge singer in Acapulco circa 1972, I'll add my little medley to my set list. Until then, enjoy Dusty.
But I must interrupt: can we just talk about her hair for a moment? Some serious architecture was involved in that nectar bun. Let us now praise the men and women who created the elaborate coiffures of those days. Do people still know how to do that? And where might I find such artisans? I think I just might feel most myself in a chiffon, rhinestone-encrusted caftan and thirty two pounds of bouffant. I'm just sayin'.

06 June 2011

beast of burden

Whereas most domestic flights allow each passenger two pieces of checked luggage, and one small carry-on, today my metaphorical baggage feels slightly over the limit.  Something like this, in fact.

Sacramento Airport
It is a tired cliche that the useless, outgrown thoughts we lug around in our head to no good purpose are called (in pop psychobabble terms, anyway) "baggage". But it is an apt metaphor.

Do you ever wish you could unscrew your head from your neck, shake out the contents and scrub the whole thing out with a little of this? 

Faultless Starch 04403 Bon Ami Cleanser

Today I do.  I'm tired of hearing myself think.

I am torn between wanting to A) slice my chest cavity open to pull back the ribcage, spilling my guts out all over the floor or B) suit up in full-body Kevlar. Or one of these. Hence the boring, vague post. For someone who aspires to be a writer, self-revelation doesn't come easy. There's always the possibility that my (again, metaphorical) guts will not clean up so well, won't fit back into my chest cavity once liberated, or will make everyone in the room gag. And yet the alternative, the Kevlar option, doesn't leave much room for movement. Anais Nin encapsulated this conflict much more eloquently when she wrote, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

03 June 2011

Just because I can doesn’t mean I should. Just because I want to doesn’t mean I will.

On a whim, I decided to join a round of a strange competition. For one month, I agreed to follow a very strict regimen that required me to do the following, daily: follow a strict and extremely healthy diet, exercise 20 minutes a day, get 7 hours sleep, avoid alcohol, drink 3 litres of water, give up a bad habit and take on a new good habit. Each day I received (or lost) points for following the plan (or not). I was a member of a team, competing against other teams. We all put $$ into a kitty, and the winner at the end of the month would have the most points and keep the $$. Most remarkable about this for me was a self-imposed abstention from what would quickly reveal itself to be my slave master: sugar.

“What's the big deal with sugar?” you may ask yourself. Nothing, according to the beet and cane growers of America. "Its natural!" they tell us. Maybe it is a source of empty calories, and perhaps it rots your teeth. But I intuitively sensed the white crystals were worse than that for me.  A month without sugar, would, in fact,  prove to me that sucrose ruled my life. I structured my entire day around its delivery to my body. I may have given up sweetening my coffee long ago, but sugar was in just about every single other thing I ate, even the things I wouldn't classify as "sweet". And that was before even factoring in my daily “treat”, be it dessert after dinner, something sweet whilewatching tv, or my mid-afternoon “pick me up”. When I was sad, I craved sugar. Bored? Think of something to do/somewhere to go that involves a sweet something to eat. Happy? Let's celebrate with a treat. Angry? Damn if I don't deserve a baked good! The list goes is endless. 

02 June 2011

Photo Finish Friday: Willow Weep for Me

Sunset Blvd at Vine
June 2, 2011

26 May 2011

The Tip of the Iceberg

 Every so often an image, idea or thing will sort of sidle itself up to me and take up residence in my brain for awhile. Something about said thing will speak eloquently to me, and I will enlist it as my symbol for a time. My latest such talisman is the glacier.

MagmaGlaciers are beautiful and massive and overwhelming. Like most human beings I enjoy such an occasional reminder that mysterious forces much larger than me exist (hence the perennial popularity of the disaster film).

The most impressive glaciers aren't blocky and white, but sculptural and eerily blue. Not many truly blue things exist in nature -- and those that do have always struck me as somehow slightly otherworldly, faintly magical. A gas flame. A robin's egg. The sea and the sky. Sapphires and turquoise. All somewhat able to shift between boundaries of air, earth or water. Kinda magic.

I love talking and writing about glaciers because of the words and expressions that accompany them. Glaciers don't break up, they calve.  Things move at a glacial pace. Of course the glacier is an apt emblem for this, my first post in a year. I've been inching so slowly --  retreating and then advancing --  toward writing that any movement has been nearly invisible to the naked eye. Until today.

The magnitude and power of glaciers are a little bit scary. After all, a calved chunk of a glacier -- an iceberg -- downed the Titanic, considered at the time nearly unsinkable. Icebergs are treacherous because they don't present their full mass, but conceal most of themselves below the water's surface.

I can relate.  I've long been accustomed to revealing only the most extraordinarily limited and finite amounts of myself,  as methodically, and cautiously as humanly possible. So as much as I enjoyed creating vivajoyriot, as great as an outlet as it was, as my posts became more personal, I felt excrutiatingly vulnerable. I tended to write in a bit of a vacuum, not imagining anyone ever really reading them. Until people did, and then commented. I blanched at the exposure. And retreated.

Parts of me have been embedded in permafrost for years. But slowly,  ever so gradually, the ice softens, a chunk sheaves off and I dare myself to reveal more, say more, and write.

So here I am, writing again.  Hopefully you're still here, too, reading.