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The Lute Player

October 17, 2010 By: admin Category: Uncategorized

In ten more days I’ll be on my way to Europe. I haven’t been there since 2001, when I worked at Oxygen. It was Italy, and I had been sent there to cover a women’s snowboarding competition. It was the second time in one and a half months that I’d been in Italy. The previous trip had been to Rome for the Italian Open of tennis. We had followed a tennis player as she gave us a tour of Rome, so I’d seen all the major sites. For the snowboarding trip, our boss had given us an extra day, in Rome, to recover from what had been a tough assignment.

Since it had been so recently that I’d been in Rome I didn’t know how best to make use of this gift of a day, so I called home. My mother loved Rome and knew it fairly well. I asked her what she thought I should do and she said: “Find the Caravaggios.” Unbeknownst to me, the city was littered with Caravaggios. They were tucked away in random, secret palazzos, or hidden at the backs of smaller museums. If you wanted to find them, you had to know someone who knew where they were. My mother, long a lover of Cavaggio’s work, thought the best way for me to spend an exciting day in Rome, was to hunt for art. :)

Leaving my hotel after talking with Mom, I headed straight for the Pantheon. I figured, if anyone in Rome knows where the secret Caravaggios are, it’s going to be someone who works at one of the oldest and most famous icons of art that there is. When I got there, though, the only two people on duty were a young couple, and the boy wasn’t really on duty. He’d just stopped by to pick up something he’d left on his previous shift. Still, I approached them and, a bit embarrassed, asked if they had any clue how I might “the lost Caravaggios.” After some translation-stumbling the boy’s eyes widened and a huge, amazed smile broke across his face. He knew EXACTLY where they all were. He was a Caravaggio buff.

He took my map in his hands and excitedly grabbed a ballpoint pen from under the desk. He marked dots all over the city and then handed the map back to me with a proud grin…

On that day the Caravaggios were the least impressive or important things I saw. I saw unmarked palazzos tucked down deep and dark alley streets, met a policeman who told me where there was a series of studies Caravaggio had done of the hands of The Lute Player, saw a young couple-just married-unable to keep their hands off of each other as they wandered through a small museum, pretending to be interested in the art.

I found my center on that day, and have since been moving slowly away from it. I so look forward to this next trip, when I can again lose myself in an ancient city full of answers.

There’s A Post I Won’t Publish

August 27, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Coal, Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom, PlumTV, Uncategorized, Valet Battleship Parking

A few days ago I received a message about something very painful that happened in the past, something that I had done. The event was horrible and was my fault, but what had led up to it was just as horrible and hadn’t been my fault, but the message I got didn’t mention any of that. It just tore open the old wound for all to see.

I’ve been exhausted. Like, really, really, hit-the-wall kind of exhausted, and so when the note came I faltered a little bit because I didn’t have any resources, any strength, to bear up against it. Now, after a few days and some small successes, I’m feeling much better, much stronger, and the note doesn’t have the same impact. I can see it for what it is now: just a big mistake that will end up hurting the writer far more than it ever could me. That said, the note did change something profound in me. Something snapped and finally released, and as I finished reading I knew it was time to put some things away.

I’m apparently going on a long trip, but I think it’s one of mind and not of body. My meditation practice slipped in the last two weeks because we’ve been working just too damned hard. The President & First Family have been on-island and we’ve been all over them, filming, editing shows together quickly, and wringing ourselves out. Well, it’s done now. The “Obama Shows” have aired and the crazy summer season is drawing to a close–which is why I can write this from home at 9:30am on a Friday. :)

One of the things I have to put away are the cats. I spoke to the Animal Shelter here and will likely be dropping the cats off in another week and a half. This will be terribly difficult for me. I care for them very much and am not, as we know, at all good with letting go of things I love. But I don’t want to care for them any more. I just don’t want to. They’re hard in terms of upkeep, and remind me too much of a past I want to turn away from so I can finally move forward in a brand new direction. I’ve been in limbo for over two years. Two years. A lot of that was the economic crisis, but at least 50% was due to raw wounds that have been taking too long to heal.

In mid-Sept. I’ll finally “move” back home and have some serious time to work on the coal film. THAT’S where I live now: in my work. I’ll try to craft a happy life despite the hole in it where Mom used to be, but the main focus will be doing what I do: making stories that I hope will have some impact on even just a few people. And I’ll travel. I’ll go to all the places Mom always talked about but was too afraid to visit. I’ll stay longer than one does for “vacation,” and I’ll get to know new cultures.  I’ll read and I’ll write, and make sure–as much as I can–that my friends are healthy and know that I love them.

We’re all in limbo, in transition. Chogyam Trungpa, the late Buddhist teacher used to talk a lot about negative/uncomfortable emotions being preferable to straight-up happiness because there’s so much energy in them. He said it’s better to walk right into the center of ill feelings and just hang out quietly because what you’ll learn will blow your mind.

Bon voyage, everyone. :)

Intimacy

December 11, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Body, Happiness, Love, Meditation, Uncategorized

“I live a hundred lifetimes in day, but I die just a little with every breath I take.” –Ben Harper

I’ve had a rough week. Lost my meditation practice and been flailing a bit. Tonight, in class, it all came back to me. I knew it would, but was waiting kind of anxiously for something to happen. I’ve been so solid with the practice and it’s effect that it’s been shocking and scary that the “old mind” ways were going on for a while. It wasn’t until tonight’s teacher, Jim, said that if something is going wrong “you can change it” that I finally come back to myself.

I’ve been struggling with my feelings for Molly–what they were and how they’ve evolved, if they have at all. I’ve been conflicted because I didn’t want to give my new squeeze cause to worry about my where my desires were drawn to (they are drawn to her), so I’ve been doing the one thing I vowed I would never do in my life: I bottled up my feelings. TOTAL DISASTER ENSUED. :) Not too many people recognized that anything was up, but I sure did. Felt all knotted up and like I was chasing a ghost. I felt very out of control, and as the week went on it just got worse.

What I’ve been struggling with was the questions of whether Molly and I really loved each other, or if there was something else holding us together. I know for each of us there were ideas about the other that were at the heart of initial attraction, but then what was it that kept us together after so many incompatibilities were discovered? Well, tonight I figured the out answer for myself: I did love Molly. Very, very much. And I know she loved me. I think she may have even loved me as long as I loved her, but I won’t ever be sure unless she tells me, and she may never do that.

What we had, and what is the reason it’s been so hard for me to let go of her, was a certain intimacy. We were very, very close physically. Trusted each other in that way. For instance, I used to press on her stomach to help her fart when she had bad gas. Seriously. Some of you are cringing and some of you are falling off your chair laughing because you’ve done the same thing with your partner. :) But that was something so body intimate that we did. The sex, of course, was intimate, but not as much as you’d think. There were pockets, moments of genuinness that made the experience full, but it was almost never constant. By contrast, sex with my new squeeze is pregnant with intimacy and love and trust in the slightest touch, from beginning to end. I’ve never had longer love-making sessions than with this new person. We go on and on and on because we go so slowly. We are each amazed at how the other feels to the simplest touch and take a loooooooooong time to explore one little part. It’s one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I let go completely and am free to do that because I trust her 100%. I’ve never felt that before–100% trust–so this is awesome and amazing and humbling and beautiful.

Molly and I had moments of deep tenderness a fair amount, but as the years wore on, the moments became less frequent. I don’t know if it was trust leaving or what, but it hurt like a bitch. I never ever lose that feeling of intimacy-borne connection once it’s made, and so breaking up seems harder for me than it does for others I’ve seen. The hardest part is letting go in my MIND, not in my heart. My heart, oddly enough, is smarter than my mind. It saw this new girl the moment she appeared and jumped right for her. :) Thank god.

Anyway, so what I remembered tonight in class was the intimacy Molly and I shared. The quiet, quiet moments before we really knew each other, and before all the obstacles that would eventually break us apart became the norm. Those quiet moments were beautiful because they were the only times in 5 years that I had Molly all to myself, and as those of us who have felt that can tell you, having Molly all to yourself for even a split second is a wonderful thing. :) I enjoyed taking care of her. Enjoyed it very much, actually. And I’m sad that I can’t do any of it anymore, but it will be the intimacy, and the trust that came with it, that I’ll miss the most. Maybe that’s what I’m mourning…

The Bearable Heaviness of Being

December 01, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Molly, Uncategorized, Valet Battleship Parking

this morning i had a powerful meditation experience. my body is holding on to a few fears: money/job, India. December hasn’t been fun or good for me for years and so as it approaches i feel myself tighten up. that’s why i’m increasing my meditation time to 30 minutes, 40 if i can do it. this morning while i sat i had images of myself boxing my fears. there was a profound sadness that enveloped us as we fought, as if we were both so exhausted and didn’t really have our hearts in the exchange. when i came out of the meditation i didn’t feel much better than when i started. December is always a battle. the closer Christmas gets, the more i miss my mother; add to that the fears of flying to India, being in Kolkata but this time without Molly, money woes… it’s a tough time for me at the moment.

there was an odd romance to southern California in winter. it was so anomalous to have warm weather, but in December it felt a bit relieving. the cold is hard so any break from it is welcome. when i lived out there i’d get up earlier than usual in December to walk the dog in the early morning warmth. early morning is the time when there’s moisture in southern California, and i craved that amid all the constant dry heat and sunshine. truly, i don’t know how the Californians stand the sun all the time. it felt like everyone was stuck in time, and happy about it. but during the early mornings things were different. the day felt like real life for an hour or so.

so, i write all that and then i sit back and think that i should go back to the cushion because what i’m feeling is sorry for myself and that is not what makes the fucking world go around.

What A Strange, Strange Trip It Is…

November 29, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Aperture, Coal, Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, Lumix Pix, Molly, Uncategorized, Video, Yoga

So much has happened since I last blogged that it’s a struggle to settle on a place to start…

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Chicago

Did I tell you about Chicago? I traveled there for two reasons: to participate in the wedding of my dear friend Robin to her glorious, gorgeous, amazing wife Lindsey; and to film several interviews for The Dirty Truth About Coal.

The trip was a revelation. I have been out of work since March and “Soma Girls” was doing well. When I went to Chicago, therefore, I was 100% an independent filmmaker. I wasn’t making any money, but I was making great art and having the time of my life. For one week I had the great privilege of staying with my family–Lucy, Carlos & Xochi. Lucy’s sister is married to my brother, but all three families (Lucy’s, mine & Carlos’) all get along so well that I call them my inlaws. Conventions be damned! :)

Anyway, the filming was amazing. Lucy, an employee of the EPA, connected me with people, information and groups I would never have known about and so the interviews I got during my trip solidified that I have an amazing piece of work on my hands. Creatively, the trip was a thrill and layered with validation that, yes, indeed, I’m very good at this and should absolutely keep going.

Then there was the wedding… My friend Robin, even though she’s only one year older than I, has always acted as if she’s my mother or, at the very least, a very important older sister. Her grace with and care of me over the years has been one of the cornerstones in my life that has contributed to my success of self and profession. She has always been there for me and so to see her so in love and bringing to bear all her energies to this wonderful, beautiful match was a gift. Robin is a whole’lotta woman and she somehow found her perfect mate in kind, gentle, but also solid, loving and capable Lindsey.

“Soma Girls” World Premiere

On November 13, 2009 my latest documentary–a 27-minute short called “Soma Girls”–had it’s world premiere at the Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival in New York City. It was a full-circle feeling for me. I have toiled at this “video thing” for a while now and, although I’ve had (in my mind) many successes, to have one as big and public as this was all the way BITCHIN’. :)

Upon hearing of our selection into the festival, Nandini and I had scrambled to get the last of the technical sections of the film done. This meant color correction and sound mix. The drop-dead dates for both ended up being one day after I got back from Chicago, which meant that while I was in Chicago I had to export the film in the proper format for both vendors. The problem? I didn’t have the film with me. :) All thanks here, then, go to my friend Drew who lives up the street from me and has a key to my house. He’s also a techie so when I asked if he could go in, get the hard drive the film was on, pack it up VERY, VERY CAREFULLY, and then ship it to me overnight in Chicago, there was a profound feeling of confidence of my part. :) Once I got the drive I re-arranged one shoot for Coal so I could have a day to prepare Soma Girls. Juggling indy film projects and then having dinner with extended family–not a bad day’s existence.

Once I got back from Chicago I went straight into the sound mix in Boston on the same day Nandini was doing the color correction in New York. We’re so very “2.0,” aren’t we? 😉 Both processes went very well and I was able to send the sound files to the color-corrector/masterer with plenty of time.

Nandini then dropped the digibeta master off with the festival folks and that was that until festival time. The festival was great and is better described on the SomeGirls.org blog. Suffice it to say I had a great, great time. Having this experience for the first time with a film I made with one of my very favorite filmmakers, Nandini, was a thrill and a privilege. It was the perfect “first.” :)

Inspired Yoga

The week after the festival, in fact three days after I’d come home, I left again for another indy gig. I had been contacted several months ago by a yoga instructor in DC. She had her own studio and a large following of students, and was interested in making a DVD of her intermediate level practice. I was flabbergasted, flattered and very excited as I’ve wanted to make an instructional yoga DVD for a while. It’s really hard to do because, in addition to being instructional it needs to be interesting/beautiful. Thankfully, one of my favorite camera people in Boston, my new pal Nikki, was available to shoot. She has an eye I knew I’d need and so with her involvement I felt 100% confident that I could produce something of value for Kyra, the instructor.

Kyra’s style of teaching and, really BEING is about soooo much more than yoga. She embodies the need to make people feel better about themselves in every way, and so that’s what Nikki and I were able to find during the shoot. One of my strengths as a director, I think, is my ability to really understand a person’s vibe and make the work bring that out. However we did it, we did it, cuz at the end of the first day of shooting–three cameras!–a bunch of us reviewed the footage and were amazed by it’s beauty. Somehow Nikki and I had managed to not let the existence and job of the cameras get in the way of Kyra’s message, a message she delivered with a fluid and seamless one-hour sequence. Kyra was AMAZING.

And that was only Day 1. Day 2 of shooting involved filming “pickups,” anything we felt needed more attention/a different angle, and recording the Voice Over.

Now, recording a voice over might sound straight forward at first, but remember this needed to be a ONE HOUR voice over. Because she’s incredible and a trooper, and committed to her work, incredible Kyra did the whole goddamned thing in one take. Perfectly. :) Nikki and I were amazed. “Is this not how this usually goes?” Kyra asked us after we’d reviewed the first take (oh yes, she did another entire take). “Noooooooooo,” we replied in unison, gleefully. :)

The perfection and efficiency of the voice over–something I didn’t expect at all–made it easy for me cobble together a solid rough cut that same night. Therefore, when Kyra got back from her evening classes at the end of Day 2, we were able to have her give the whole thing a listen to see if there was anything she wanted to record again. There was, we did it, and then went to sleep.

Day 3 was equally awesome. Nikki was in charge of the day’s shoot which will become the introduction to the DVD. Kyra had written a 2 minute intro that welcomes the viewer, talks a bit about her philosophy/her story, and describes what’s to come on the DVD. Nikki made ART out of the shoot at the DC Arboretum at magic hour. Magic hour is Nikki’s wheelhouse. A word of advice if you hire her to shoot for you: describe what you want, bring her to the location, and get the fuck out of the way. Because Nikki and Kyra were so in tune with each other, this footage is gorgeous and totally in sync with the vibe Kyra and I want for the DVD. :)

Thanksgiving & Today

That brings me to today. I came home from DC in time to have one day in Hudson before going to the Vineyard for a restful Thanksgiving. I celebrated mellowly with Dad, Sarah, and Sarah’s beautiful mother, Emily. Being on the Vineyard is always restful and restorative, and so I’m home now after having slept a lot and recouped some of the energy spent on the last couple of months.

Voila. I hope this makes everyone feel caught up. It certainly makes me feel that way. :) As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts. This life is nothing unless it’s shared. :)

Much love & thanks to you all,

Alexia

Make Something

November 12, 2009 By: admin Category: India, The Film, Uncategorized

I never thought I could be a filmmaker. You all–who read this blog–know that when I hear that word I see Martin Scorcese and then shrink back into the dark obscurity from which I came, but tonight, all that changes. Tonight, at the Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival, where my film “Soma Girls” will premiere tomorrow night, I hear director/creator Mira Nair, and all of a sudden I knew what I’ve know my whole life: there are no rules. You fucking well go off and do what you need to do and the universe steps up with other stuff/support that reminds you that you’re not insane. :)

Tonight I was given the clear message that there’s no room for resting on any laurels. The deal is that you’ve got to go, go, go! As an artist, I have a responsibility to break my back making things–for the moment it’s films, but maybe later it’ll be something else. Maybe music. :)

Mira Nair said: “To be brave comes with pain.” I understand that completely. This is the legacy that’s been passed down to me from my mother and father. Each of them took risks given their contexts, and each of them succeeded. So, it behooves me to keep moving.

I don’t know if I’ll be alone forever, but there may not be anyone willing to stick by close enough as I move. it’s a lot to ask, isn’t it? I pray, in the quiet, that there’s someone for whom my jumping up and down is enough, but it may just not be in the fucking cards, y’know? If so, then that’s my lot and I have to accept it, because what I’m sure of is that, in Ms. Nair’s words: I have to keep making things. It’s the only thing I know, and the only thing–other than family–that’s remained consistent.

To all you artists out there, and I’m speaking to everyone who reads this blog as I feel everyone is an artist: KEEP MOVING. Keep making your stuff. Don’t worry about money, time, or love–those things will find you when you most need them. Maybe that’s a doomsday message, but FUCKIT; in the end, the art will be what remains. :)

Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival!!!

November 12, 2009 By: admin Category: Uncategorized

Hey everyone, I’m blogging Nandini’s and my progress through the festival here (http://somagirls.wordpress.com/). I’ll also add pictures and thoughts on this blog, though, once I have some downtime. Alright, off to Day 2 of the fest!!!

Drawing The Line

November 02, 2009 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Molly, Uncategorized

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Someone wrote me something recently that blew my mind. They were insulting in a way I haven’t experienced in a long, long time. Letting my reaction of anger and amazement and hurt flow through me, though, I knew things had changed because the last thing I wanted to do was fight. I wanted to stand up for myself, but didn’t want to fight. What I realized was that there wasn’t anything to prove to this person because no matter what I’d say, they wouldn’t hear it.

I wrote back a terse, “Go fuck yourself, and this is what you’re wrong about” but that was it. I didn’t add any embellishments. For those who know me I know you’re all snickering at that. :) “Alexia, not adding embellishments???”

I don’t know how all the changes in me are manifesting themselves but am sure glad they’re starting to. It’s been a shit two years of being a doormat and I don’t want to go back. In a perfect world I’d get an apology from Molly–a LONG ONE, something to help fix some of the wounds–but I’m not going to hold my breath. Expecting any kind of grace and decency from her is what got me into trouble in the first place so I’m not going to put any effort into hoping she suddenly becomes a good person. That goes for others as well. These days I’m trusting my instincts when it comes to people that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up straight. I’m civil when I meet them, make sure I have an exit, and avoid them thereafter.

There are a lot of people in the world who just don’t know how to communicate with others, and it’s not my responsibility to teach them. I learned that the hard way with Molly. Not going to make the same mistake again.

Under Pressure

October 15, 2009 By: admin Category: Uncategorized

So I’m more than a little bit under the gun. I’m in the middle of a “when it rains it pours” cycle and am needing to call on my new meditation skills every minute to keep from driving at high speed into a wall cuz I forgot to take my foot off the gas. As most of you know, I have a freakish skill with time-management, but even I can get overwhelmed and that’s happening today. It’s all good stuff that I have to accomplish, I just have to accomplish all of it before I leave for Chicago on Monday and that’s causing me to flip out a bit so I thought I’d blog about it and give you all a little gift at the same time so we could all laugh together… :) Enjoy. I apologize in advance for the site’s ridiculous background…

Pressure

President Barack Obama’s Healthcare Speech, 09.09.09

September 10, 2009 By: admin Category: Uncategorized

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This is Part 1 of the video of the speech on YouTube. The other parts can be found along  the right-hand sidebar on the same YouTube page.

Read full text of speech here.