Too little too much

Ever since I was a child, I have been taunted by the fear of being too much of anything, too loud, too different, too nice and yes, even too loving.

In a society that promotes distance, casual relationships with no profound attachment, caring too much has somehow become a defect of the human heart, something we’re doing wrong. Every time we get too close to another, whether friend or more, an alarm resonates and we pull out of our mischievous trance; today’s society is based on nonchalance and vapid companionship, anything more can turn out fatal. We call friends people who make our hips dance but our souls stand still, lovers those who offer us everything but their hearts, and for some inexplicable reason, this has become completely normal, synonymous with happiness.

I remember watching old films with my parents, listening to fabulously written dialogue and loving diatribes spoken with passion and glistening eyes, and I dreamt of the day I’d be old enough to have someone come up with words as warm and tender as those uttered by the likes of Cary Grant and Gene Kelly, swoon under the riveting gaze of chivalrous men burning with untamed passion. Instead, all I have seen of courtship has been reduced to strangers finding solace in strange bodies, short-term internet-made friendships, divorces happier than weddings and a world much less inviting than my innocent heart had dreamt while watching those films with the only two people who ever made me dream of more than society allowed or taught me to seek.

In the end, it isn’t being too much of anything that truly scares me, it’s the world being too little endowed with what makes my soul flutter and my heart beat faster; I will always do and be more than is advisable, and maybe someday society will finally decide to catch up.

Three cheers for new year’s

Hello to anyone who reads this,
And to all those I terribly miss.
I do not know what to make of the past year,
We’ve in turn felt sadness, anger and fear.
We’ve watched countries burn to the ground,
We’ve seen music lose some of its sound,
Films will never be quite the same
After so many have lost their flame.
Orange is a colour we now well know,
And each day produces yet another blow;
We’ve seen death too many a time
Hoping for our beloved the bell won’t chime.
There is still hope, world, I swear,
In every smile, and sprinkled everywhere.
There is life left to celebrate,
Beautiful memories to perpetrate,
Love enough to go around
For happiness we were surely bound.
Now that wretched year has flown away
Give your heart to this bright new day 🎈

(Maria Sometimes)

Nursed by the silver screen

I grew up in a household where movies were a central interest alongside music. When I say movies, I dread being misunderstood, people thinking I mean Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning horrors, you know, those scripts without substance animated by pretty faces with no character or depth. Unfortunately, that’s what a big chunk of today’s cinema is, an act of an act, a parody. No, I grew up with the likes of Burt Lancaster and Montgomery Clift, Fred Astaire and Deborah Kerr, Grace Kelly and so many class acts that turned every ordinary day into a sparkling daze. However, my father – who initiated this love for cinema in my brother and myself – doesn’t always meet eye to eye with me on certain film topics, genres, or directors. Whenever I mentioned Louis de Funes or Robert De Niro for example, I’d get an instant eye roll; which didn’t make my likings die out or lose any of their luster; I always found differences healthy, but hearing the words “I just don’t like it/him/…” without getting so much as a reason always annoyed me. For the longest time, I took my father’s word for what was considered a good picture as the ultimate judgement, an unquestionable truth, but as I grew older and made it a duty to create my very own library, I noticed there were gaps I could no longer ignore. For instance, Woody Allen. I had never watched any of his works, mostly because every time someone brought up his name, my father reacted just as I mentioned earlier, badly. I mean the guy did run off with his adoptive daughter, that’s a hard thing to swallow. Nevertheless, he wasn’t some ignorant filmmaker emptily praised or focused on ridiculous money-making productions like Michael Bay, and he had something – a lot of things – to say. So I started: Annie Hall, Husbands and wives, and the list went on, only to discover…I liked him, his vision, the way he told each story, the way it all fit. I didn’t love him or put him on a cinematographic pedestal, but I felt an intriguing nudge each time I pressed play and heard the off-voice so characteristic of his creations. Then the other night it hit me – I finally understood why I liked his productions and how come they felt so familiar. Each one of his stories was told the way I lived life, a narrator in the background, a somewhat brownish filter in the words, the clothes, the topics and a certain overanalysis I never could shake off myself… I felt close to his vision, as if my mind could write things I wasn’t aware of, but he somehow was, and they turned into celluloid realities…for me to watch with a big bowl of popcorn.

Narrate this

We have gotten used to the idea that our society condemns anything that’s different, strange, unusual, that it condones any behaviour ruled by something other than the social impositions of our century. But when did we start accepting the unthinkable, nodding at the discrimination and alienation of people based only on what makes them different?

When we watch a movie and the hero is an autistic man who overcomes his sickness by getting a job, a bullied child with tourette’s who starts a dance squad, a boy with a girly voice who gets to sing at the Superbowl, we feel emotional and happy that good things can happen even to the underdog. Then once everyone’s out of the theater, a guy picks on a woman because of her chin hair, a group of girls start laughing at a lady because all she can afford are hand-me-downs or clothes from Walmart, a man with a stutter isn’t hired because he annoys the staff or someone with osteoporosis gets the nickname Sir limps-a-lot because it’s funny. That “hairy woman” has hormonal problems and would rather feed her children than get expensive laser treatment, that lady is paying for her parents’ medication and hasn’t been on a single vacation for years to make sure all her money goes to caring for her family, that man started stuttering after receiving a shock watching his son get hit by a bus and hasn’t been able to heal since, and that person with osteoporosis used to be a champion runner, but their current illness has them swallowing pills by the dozen hoping the torture would finally end. Maybe it’s the background music carefully selected in films that activate the waterworks, maybe people really feel moved by the stories on screen, however where does all the compassion go when real life comes knocking, when the people who really need support and empathy end up receiving all the blows? Yes that handsome man is dating a fat girl, and he likes it. That boy with all the scars got his puppy out of a fire, that woman was raped and hasn’t been able to smile for the past 4 years, that young girl with the double chin has a nutritionist mother who feeds her very well, but she’s diabetic and her metabolism is too slow and that “geek” who never got a date dreams daily of finding the cure for cancer. This goes beyond stereotypical situations, this happens every day to people struggling to stay positive and get through life as wholly as they can, but they weren’t in a movie, they might not get prince charming or their dream job because in real life, nobody goes “awww”, not enough root for them to succeed but instead bash all their efforts because they don’t fit the carefully drawn molds the media has voluntarily helped shape. Why would they let the “imperfect” ones win when they’ve spent so much time and effort becoming “perfect”? Whose ego would allow to condescend?

They say life imitates art, but isn’t cinema considered the 7th form of art? Then why isn’t everyone cheering for the misfits, the marginals and the unfortunate ones that life didn’t spoil? Why is it our hearts beat faster when we’re in a dark room and nobody knows how deeply we can feel?

Always is never enough

Alan Rickman has just died. Same week as Bowie, same age, both cancer-stricken, both British. Well the Brits always had a peculiar sense of humor…I bet they had made a pact to meet up on the stage beyond, David performing and Alan narrating his new story; two beautiful charismatic beings captured on film and tape, two souls too free to capture and keep alongside us.

I had been feeling under the weather since last weekend, and these two deaths confirmed my mood: this week is simply better forgotten with its morbidly dark content. These two were true artists, they left us with an undeniable musical and cinematic heritage that we will definitely “always” cherish. However, always just doesn’t seem enough; they can no longer reinvent themselves, stuck in every character they’ve ever incarnated, from Ziggy and Major Tom to Snape and Colonel Brandon, and every one in between, never again to experience those they had no time to become. Always is short, even if we as spectators can still rejoice in their presence as we replay their masterpieces, that’s it, it’s over, their chance is gone. That’s the tricky part of life, the one that says once your eyes close, all your potential closes with them, trapped beyond the realm of the living, kept from us here still panting from the last time we experienced their intrepid energy. However, unlike us mere mortals, they live on in the millions of admiring fans they accumulated with every winning performance. Alan Rickman embodied talent and charisma, a sense of humor that helped him even when playing evil or stern characters, as I loved watching his off-screen bloopers, and he always managed to amaze me with his acting skills, skills not so common in today’s world cinema. He worked with his gut, his wits and his heart; the way I believe we all should.

In the end, celebrities are of no bigger importance than anyone else, but when brilliant people become famous like the aforementioned two, there’s no denying the world knows loss once they’re gone. Farewell Mr.Rickman, and every time I’ll watch one of your movies and weep, and around me they’ll ask “after all this time?” I’ll unfailingly answer “always”.

Ending unending

I awoke this morning, heart somber with untold goodbyes. If I had to count the numerous times a film or book ending have caused tears to trickle down my cheeks, I’d inevitably declare forfeiture before reaching the list’s conclusion, crying my eyes out once again. The simple memory of each termination makes my eyes water, blurring the rest of my day in a sadistically cathartic manner, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life has always felt terribly dizzying to me, in ways other than my sudden hypoglycemic fits and blinding blood pressure drops, but cinema and literature have constantly transformed the crippling tornadoes into whimsical escapes. My love for food is probably only supplanted by my eternal endearment for the art of storytelling, the seemingly effortless recounting of what was never there, but feels all too familiar and close to home. I am Alice in Wonderland, Gulliver, Jo March and Huckleberry Finn, I breathe the air they exhale through paper and screen, wipe my eyes from the dreams they refreshingly colour my existence with. Then it all ends, the credits and final song, the index and author’s salute, and I am left there heaving and out of breath, coping with my own reality, one too far from myself, yet forced upon my being.

Do endings really end? My philosophical moment seems to have rung, yet I ponder this very question every day, never quite satisfied with what I’m answered. I don’t believe in endings as I don’t believe in beginnings, we come to this Earth and hop onto this previously drawn continuous cycle, managing to ease ourselves into its worn-out seats. Cycles don’t start, cycles don’t finish, they repeat and renew, our lives turning the wheels in directions we see fit or destined, paving our journey with stories continuously stitched to our own.

I like to think I am the sum of what I’ve read and seen, the journeys I’ve embarked on when I hit “play” or turned to page 1, making every story I’ve meticulously chosen… gloriously live on as I do.