Friday, November 23, 2012

Holy Cow

It’s a complicated place, the Holy Land.  Thousands upon thousands of years of bloodshed, hatred, suffering, one-upmanship, conquest, and death have taken its toll and to even begin trying to make sense of things there gives me a massive feeling of unease. 

With the recent outburst of violence in Israel and Gaza, I found my Facebook news feed pouring with status updates, photos, and links either supporting or denouncing Israel’s actions against the Palestinian population in Gaza or vice versa.  I probably have well over 100 friends on Facebook connected to Israel in some way, whether as Israelis, children of Israelis, or people who lived in Israel at some point.  The reactions were varied all across the board; some shocking and some predictable.  I discovered people’s true feelings regarding the situation.  Some people were more eloquent than others, maybe some wrote in English while others preferred to write in Hebrew to get their point across.  Debates broke out.  People generally agreed.  Some disagreed.  Many images of propaganda were posted, most of which were anti-Palestinian.  Some people got downright racist.  Others remained hopeful for peace and love.  Some showed humor while others displayed desperation and stress.  Many posted news stories from around the world from pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian points of views.  Very few chose not to acknowledge the situation at all. 

I think it’s too easy to sit here thousands of miles away and form an opinion either for or against either side.  I’ve never been awoken by a siren, never heard the thundering boom of an Iron Dome intercepting a rogue rocket with its loud screech.  I’ve never received a leaflet from the sky warning me to evacuate my home for an impending missile attack nor had to stop my car in the middle of the highway, get out and take cover.  I’ve been inside a bomb shelter once, but only ironically. 

In the end I feel like I always feel when these things happen---that there really won’t be any peace.  Maybe it’s because I’m a pessimist or a cynic, but I just don’t feel like things will get any better-at least not during my lifetime.  There is simply too much anger and misunderstanding on both sides among the general population and too much arrogance and hatred among the ruling parties.  People will just keep dying and the cycle will continue.

Of course I wish for peace for all Israelis and Palestinians and that they could exist independently and peacefully in their own states without interference from the other side, but that simply will not happen.  There are too many obstacles standing in the way of peace.  But slowly, there are people on each side determined to make a change, to stand for peace and understanding and to move forward.  Give them a voice and maybe there will be a glimmer of hope.

Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

History In the Making

I was asked in an audition recently that if I could live in any period in time, which would I live?  Without hesitation I answered that I would have loved to live in England during the Middle Ages, but only if I were the king or queen.  I explained that life was pretty awful for everyone else.  If you were a peasant you didn’t live very long, you worked in hard labor all day, ate awful food, slept on the floor next to your animals, and generally lived an unfulfilling life.  If you were the king or queen however, you lived in a castle, traveled the kingdom, attended festivities, ate good food, wore fine clothes, and bathed once a week.  No question about it. 

Being the history and geography nerd that I am, there are a few other periods in time I would have liked to live.  I would love to have been an explorer in the Middle East during the 19th and early 20th centuries.  To travel by caravan for long weeks in the desert with local guides and servants while creating the very maps that would one day be used by future explorers and travelers to cross the same everlasting sands.

It might have been fun to be a member of the elite circles during the Renaissance period where vice and great art were the priorities of the time.  On a similar note, I would like to have been a model for Austrian artist Egon Schiele.  Sure, it might mean that I would have caught a severe case of syphilis and died young, but I’d also be immortalized by one of the greatest artists of his time in a painting or sketch that would one day hang in a museum in Vienna or New York City.

I would like to have been a can-can dancer in Montmartre during the decadent and colorful days of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec in 19th century Paris, when men wore top hats and monocles. 

Sometimes I wonder what life was like in 1980s New York City for a gay man.  I imagine it was a time of great transition, of uncertainty, of decadence, of hope, and of tragedy.  To survive that scene and witness the rapid evolution and generational changes taking place in one of the greatest cities in the world would have created the best stories to tell.

I would like to have been a casual observer in the court of the ancient Chinese emperors or perhaps to have been one of the emperor’s eunuchs.  But why a eunuch, you ask?  They carried all the secrets of the court and knew everything that was happening in the kingdom.  They planned strategy and closely guided the emperor in his day to day activities.  They were kept close to the ruling parties without anyone feeling threatened by their presence thus enabling them to have constant supervision on all matters governmental, social, economical and regal.

1066 at the Battle of Hastings within eyesight of Harold of Wessex (no pun intended).

And of course, I would love to have witnessed the construction of Angkor Wat, the great pyramids of Egypt, the Taj Mahal, Notre Dame Cathedral, Mt. Rushmore, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Hagia Sophia.  Last December I spent a gray day in Paris where the top half of the Eiffel Tower was completely obstructed by clouds and I smiled as I imagined seeing an unfinished monument in the making.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Now what?

Act I

So the reality is that I’m a 20-something American girl stuck on some weird course otherwise known as a “path” and I really have no idea what I’m doing.

I often ask myself, “What are you doing?!”  And the tone is less inquisitive than accusatory.  The truth is I have no idea what I’m doing.  I often times make bad decisions.  I don’t think things through.  I react emotionally more than logically.  I have pretty bad self-control in most aspects and I tend to offend most people I come across.  Furthermore, I have about as much money in my savings account as an illegal immigrant has in his mattress.  No, I think an illegal immigrant has even more money.

I also have this weird habit of only meaning half the things I say.  I’m not a liar in the traditional sense, but I am a good liar.  I don’t consider myself dishonest.  On the contrary, I am extremely honest.  Maybe a lack of truthfulness would be the correct description. 

The truth is I have no idea how to be a contributing member of society.  I feel like a resource-sucking, self entitled, misunderstood, but ever-so-sharp lady with a quick temper.  Or basically like any other 20-something in this country. 

If memories of experiences were tangible things, there’d be a trail of them all around me, all over the world, containing the joys, pains, and misconceptions of myself and the people in and out of my life like paper shadow puppets connected at the arms, tightly embracing one another along a shred of dainty paper.

I use things like Facebook and Instagram as a sad form of self-validation.  While I haven’t completely lost sight of myself I do find a lot of self-perception through these time consuming applications.  I get jealous, judgemental, indignant, self righteous, proud, and curious when I view other people’s profiles.  I’m ashamed to admit but it totally happens.  And I find myself comparing my life to others’ my age and wonder if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.  And usually the answer is no.  And the next day I’ll realize that no two lives are alike and how easily people can manipulate perception by simply posting and deleting certain bits of information about themselves.  In other words, it’s all bullshit!

I’m trapped inside myself.  I’ll elaborate more on this in another post, because I cannot even wrap my brain around just how much this affects me.

Act II

Older men intrigue me.  It’s not so much the air of wisdom or the life experience I lack that sets them apart, it would probably be the utter clarity they display without even realizing it.  I learn so much from them in an unemotional, un-bitchy way.  Maybe they censor themselves around me or maybe they say things they shouldn’t.  They can be encouraging or discouraging.  They can be full of good advice or full of shit.  I love talking to them but I don’t know what to say.  I love listening to them but I can also get bored.  I find them amusing and offensive.  I don’t really know how they see me or what they want from me (usually) but they’re always there and hold different significant places in my life.

When I think of two of my older straight male friends, I am often amazed by how completely opposite they are from each other.  They come from similar cultural backgrounds but have found themselves existing in universes where presumably nothing makes sense to them.  One talks at length about himself and his opinions while the other listens as I talk at length about myself and my opinions.  One hears my opinions and picks out the flaws and misunderstandings and offers his learned advice while the other smiles to himself as I proclaim with absolute certainty and stubbornness that I have a clue.  One answers my questions before I’ve even though to ask while the other challenges me to figure it out and get back to him.

If I could share my most honest opinions with them, what would I say?  Would I feel the need to impress them by taking on an air of pseudo maturity that I do not really possess?  Or would I acknowledge that I really have no fucking clue what I’m talking about in the grand scape of things but at this point in time, it’s exactly what seems right to me and I won’t think otherwise until I have proof before my eyes?


A friend and I swap motivational quotes as a sort of inside joke.  I make the occasional rounds on Facebook among the profiles of my artsy friends (be they dancers, models, actors, or photographers) to find inspirational quotes copied and pasted to cheesy, Instagram-ed photos depicting scenes of triumph, challenge, or general cutesiness.  I find tons of them, some more ridiculous than others.  But in the course of collecting these sappy quotes I’ve found an enlightening insight to my general bitterness.  I practically laughed tears as I realized how unbelievably repressed I felt in almost every way from my own doing.  No one held me back.  I realized the biggest obstacle facing me was me.  That no matter how much others encouraged me or believed in me, so long as I didn’t believe in myself I would never accomplish the things I wanted to.  Fuck readiness.  What is readiness?  You’re as ready as you’ll ever be and if you really want something, you’ll do everything in your power to find it and not let anyone take it from you.  There was no deep philosophical train of thought required to come across the realization that life is exactly what you make of it.  No, all it took were some silly motivational quotes.

Which leads me to Act I.  Part II.

Why the fuck do I keep messing up?!  No, really.  The dialogue in my head goes something like this:
Q:  Did you really think that would work?
A:  You know, I didn’t really think about it at all.
Q:  And why not?
A:  My mind was someplace else, sorry.
Q:  Your mind was “someplace else”?  Really convenient.  You do realize that pretty much every adult on this planet has their mind on a million different things at once and yet they find a way to figure it out.
A:  Yeah, but I’m not like them.
Q:  So you think you’re on a different level?
A:  Yes.  Well, no…I mean—
Q:  So what you’re saying is the rules don’t apply to you?  That you can just say and do what you want without any regards to consequences or other peoples’ feelings?  That’s pretty fucked up, you know.
A:  I know.
Q:  So what’s the plan?
A:  I don’t have a plan.
Q:  Maybe come up with one?
A:  I’m too tired.
Q:  Get off of Facebook, that’s a good start.  It’s all bullshit anyways.
A:  Yeah I know.  It’s distorting my views on things.
Q:  True.  But what do you believe?
A:  I think I’m moving too slow.  But I need to move slowly in order to think.  Otherwise I make rash decisions that I cannot make sense of later.  And you know I hate apologizing.  I wish I could be like Liam Neeson’s character in “Taken”.  I wish I had the instincts of an assassin!
Q:  Now you’re just talking crazy.

Act IV:  Conclusion

Make me walk on egg shells and you’re gonna have a messy floor.