lextopia

my thoughts . my memories . my family . my projects . my fears
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Archive for April, 2008

The Past Is Now

April 30, 2008 By: admin Category: Iraq, Music

Debbie emailed me this morning. Molly was in Matt M’s studio when she was 15. Alison and Bryan were at the Mela.

What does that all mean…??? Well….

My best friend from High School was Debbie. She’s a very observant jew. It was a lot of fun hanging out with her family and learning all about Judaism when I young. The family was very warm to me always, I thinnk because they knew how much I loved Debbie. Debbie was on fire and by all accounts still is. Everyone says that about me, but Debbie had this infectious life energy that I couldn’t stand to not be around. She tells the story of how we met as being that SHE had to chase me, not–as you would imagine–the other way around. She says she tried to sit next to me in class, strike up a conversation, be generally friendly, etc. but I wasn’t having any of it. From my end I can tell you that it wasn’t attitude, it was FEAR. For 10 years I’d been in grammar school with the same 30 people, now I was in this big, hoity-toity high school in the ‘burbs with people who actually knew what they wanted to do in life. I’d always known I wanted to be an actress, but that’s so fluffy, ya know???

Anyway, so after a few tries, Debbie has found me. Thank goodness. It was great talking with her and catching up. We had some great times that I look back on with fondness.

Re: Molly and the studio… We met Matt M a few weeks ago at a concert of Indian classical music that he’d invited us to. The amazing Vishwa Mohan Bhatt was playing and I was privileged to film and record audio of the whole concert. I hope to package the material into a DVD that Bhatt can use forever and I can use as a calling-card, but will need the audio professionally mixed and mastered by someone else, and so last night we went over to Matt M’s house/studio to transfer the audio for him to mix! When Molly entered the storied studio (Bruce Swedian built it) she knew she’d been there before. In fact, this studio was where she’d recorded her very first efforts EVER. She was fifteen.

The three of us sat on the floor of the studio talking about all kinds of things generally had a really amazing time. We actually have a tremendous amount in common, and it’s just wonderful for Molly to be around someone with so much talent and experience who’s not an asshole. This will be an awesome partnership, I think…

Last weekend we saw Bryan and Alison at the fundraiser for Shadhika. It’s only been 3 months since India, but both of us felt this incredible relief when we saw them on Sunday. We were both unprepared for how much we’d missed them and so when I hugged Bryan I really felt the great wonder of what a hug is supposed to be: family. We don’t know each other so well, all of us, but they are vital people in our lives–in the lives of many–and it was so wonderful to see them again. Consequently, though, it SUCKED when we had to part. We weren’t ready for that either. We realized, looking at them, that weren’t going back top D.C. or Idaho, or Kansas. They were going back to India. That and seeing the Soma Girls’ video every day now solidifies things for me: I’m going back in February 2009. :)

So, that’s the update. Lots of incredible things have happened recently. There’s lots more to blog about but I’m going to pace myself…

Squatting At The New House

April 18, 2008 By: admin Category: Fatblogging, Food, Futurism, Happiness, Health, Propeller, sustainability, Video

So, we’re almost completely moved in to Molly’s Dad’s house, where we’ll be for the next three months. Looking around my new digs I see that it’s official that I have the best life in the whole world. This is my daily view:

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It’s okay to hate me. :) Seriously, I live in paradise, and I just spent the morning talking to a game designer as part of my job. Additionally, coming up soon, I’m going to be able to produce four really, really, really exciting videos about some of the next steps in environmentalism. Does it get any better than this?

“There Are No Ordinary Moments”

April 16, 2008 By: admin Category: Family, Mom

Annette’s mother died yesterday. There is some history there, as there is everywhere, but it made me think of my own troubled grandparent, my mother’s father, and the strained relationship he created with her.

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Mom looking typically gorgeous, c.1950 

He was a prominent man in Peru. He owned a coal mining business, I think, and was a master chess player. He was also very neglectful of his first daughter. Mom didn’t mind the convent she’d been left in at a young age, but she did mind being away from her beloved brother, Walter, who Michael and I never got a chance to meet. Mom always said: “The love you have for Michael…? It was the same I had for Walter.”

Whenever he visited “Papi” always smelled like Peru. So did all of the Peruvian relatives (who I never see anymore except for one AMAZING cousin, Eddie), but Papi’s smell was spicier, more exotic. He was very sweet with Michael and me, and, in retrospect, I can see how he tried to patch things up with Mom. I can’t even imagine what something like that would be like. To be abandoned and separated from the one person (Walter) who gave you joy and a feeling of being a part of something. That was just down-right cruelty. I knew the stories growing up, but couldn’t hate him. He always had such an easy smile and he loved us kids so much.

I spend a fair amount of my day-to-day life thinking about whether my current behavior is going to be something I regret when I’m dying. For me, all life comes down to the deathbed and the asking of the questions: Who will be there, and why will they have come? What will I regret?

I’m terrified of the second one, but the first one’s still pretty bad. Still, it does force me to try to be conscious of how I’m treating people. I’ve never been more aware of and sensitive to others since Mom died. I want there to be a fair amount of wonderful folk around my bed when I’m dying. But I want them to be enjoying themselves too. I want to be at home, first of all, and I want folks to be cooking, eating, drinking, singing, laughing, talking. I want the place I’m dying in to be filled with Life. I want kids running around. I want the picture of a passing to be an occasion for much joy, and only as much sadness as you feel when you move away from those you love. Painful, but not permanent.

I think it’s time my family celebrated Mom’s life. We recently reflected on her birthday and described how we would each have each given to her on that day. I think we should DO IT. Celebrate the life of a woman we loved. HAVE. A. PARTY.

Email Exchange With A New Pal Who’s Been To India

April 14, 2008 By: admin Category: India

K: Hi Alexia, it’s nice to meet you too! D spoke highly of you too — and like you, I am blown away by D and her great mind and her very, very old soul.

ME: She does have an old soul, doesn’t she… I liked her the day I met her. We were at a conference–the first gig for both of us on a new job–and she and I just clicked. Everyone else was bored by the conference panels and D and I were freaking out with glee.

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K: I’ve just watched “Shadhika” and am so impressed. Your work is really beautiful and I could particularly tell your editing is great. What a great choice to end the video on the woman talking about opposing the idea of karma, destiny. Talk about a powerful statement — What a brave woman to put herself up against a concept that central to Indian life.

ME: Urmi is a force of nature. Her zeal has an almost religious-calling fervor to it that I found I empathize with immensely. I have a real affection for and with the people involved: the sex workers and their kids. The women took to me readily and that was really inspiring and humbling. It made me realize that we all make a difference. At some point, no matter what we do, we all eventually make a difference. It’s a powerful feeling, awakening to that. Did anything similar happen to you in India? I’m currently reading one of Mark Tulley’s latest books, called “India In Slow Motion.” It’s a memoir of a man who had his own BBC radio show for decades in India. He still lives there, as he says there is still so much for him to learn…

Anyway, Urmi is a modernist, obviously, and a passionate feminist/humanist. She can’t abide illogical cultural mores, but, as you know, it’s hard for Indian women to be feminists, so New Light is her vehicle for telling the government and abusive men to go fuck themselves. :)

K: In my novel manuscript (currently in revision) I explore the idea of dharma, duty, quite a bit — the conflicts between dharma and desire. I spend just a few days in the cities (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Calcutta) but found the countryside a lot easier to take, simply in terms of breathing the air — the city pollution was mindblowing. I also got to visit a couple of villages, which was wonderful. Right now I have a photo show up now here in Louisville — a couple of pictures are attached so you can get the idea.

ME: Regarding the pollution, that became almost our whole experience while in Kolkata for a whole month. My girlfriend is a singer, so it was especially hard for her, and doubly-especially hard as she was taking Indian classical voice lessons.

Molly’s blog has incredible pictures. I stole a bunch in the early days of our trip there because they were so damned beautiful. Molly took to India and the music like a fish to water, although she’s one of those people who would be comfortable anywhere.

K: Where did you visit? And what took you India, in the first place?

ME: We were in Kolkata both in Jan. 2007 and Jan. 2008. Originally, I went because a family friend runs the funding organization, Shadhika, that funds Urmi’s project as well as the others I have videos for. Her name is Juthica. She knew my mother very well. She knew I was a filmmaker and asked me if I would do a film for her. That’s the film you saw first. It was a huge test for me, finally stepping out and saying “I’M A FILMMAKER.” Even today when I say it it sounds like I should turn around because Martin Scorcese will be behind me shaking his head as if to say “No, you’re not.” *shrug* It’s the natural feeling for someone who didn’t grow up with this as her passion–I’m still insecure about my skills, but I’ve come to LOVE IT.

Okay, so I think that’s a long enough email! Thanks for being in touch. It is, as D suspected, very nice to be chatting with someone who “understands” about India. :)

Be well,
Alexia

The Day Before What Would Have Been Her 75th Birthday

April 11, 2008 By: admin Category: House, Mom

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You have to be me. Just for a second. If you were you’d see a life so full of joy, you wouldn’t know how to express yourself. It’s of the reason I began this blog–to find a way to express my profound joy over being in the life that I am. I coulda easily been born a rat, or a cow: food for something, basically, with a very, very short life. But I wasn’t. I was born human, and to a pair of parents who cleared the way for extraordinary experiences.

Tomorrow Mom would have been 75 years old. We all would have celebrated. We would have had everyone out to the Vineyard where I would have made the day a BIG, FAT DEAL. :) I would have made her favorite things for breakfast, would have insisted that Michael and Laura serenade her while she ate, then I would have taken her for a walk, then a casual wading in the water, then lunch of more of her favorite things, then a nap, then a simple dinner.

I had a really amazing day today. I would have loved to tell her about it. She meant so much to me, and it meant so much to share things with her. She would have been proud of everything I’ve accomplished so far. It isn’t all that much, it’s just nice. And she would have loved that.

So, if any of you are reading this on April 12th, 2008, wish my Mom a happy birthday. She would have loved to have had you over to the house for dinner.:)

Another Few Small Repairs…

April 09, 2008 By: admin Category: Gadgets/Tech, Happiness, House, Not So Big, SXSW, Video

My new office is all set up in the Temporary House and, through the process of moving again, I’ve discovered that the sum total of all of my stuff can comfortably fit in a Honda CRV pulling a 5×8 U-Haul trailer. I see this as good news because it makes me sustainable, but I can also see it as an indication that I don’t need to live so frugally all the time. In truth, I do buy one HUGE piece of equipment every year. Computer bit, camera bit, software. YA GOTTA HAVE SOFTWARE.

Software geek interlude…

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This bad boy is something I call Mama’s Little Helper. I started my love affair with Red Giant‘s original “Magic Bullet for Editors,” then–at SXSW–bought Stu Maschewitz’s genius book “The DV Rebel’s Guide” that teaches you how to add visual effects to your film on the cheap! Soon I’ll upgrade to the”Looks” package and have my way with the 100 new presets!!!

Anyway, when starting to live “Not So Big,” you have to stand on your head. That’s what my movement teach used to say in acting school… her point was that you’d never learn how the world looked upside-down unless you flipped yourself over. She then went on to extol the virtues of seeing old things in new ways… She was a very good teacher…

SO, in searching for the right home, the first thing to do is to ask myself: “What do I love?” What do I love to do, what do I love to see, how do I love to feel? Well, after only a few pages of Sarah Susanka’s incredible book (“The Not So Big House”–link above…) I know that I LOVE natural light in a room, LOVE to cook, and LOVE to interact with guests while I’m cooking. This implies that the home I’m looking for either has to have a kitchen that’s open to the main gathering room, or one that’s re-modelable to be so, and comes with HUGE or PLENTIFUL windows throughout. Sounds like a good start…

Update – Sorry for the delay…

April 08, 2008 By: admin Category: Campaign 2008, Politics, Propeller, Video

Things have been moving fairly quickly here at the OK Corral. The dog has worms, Molly came back on Sunday, we took her studio apart and started to move it, I got some fabulous emails, and I”m trying desperately to research this game thing so I can have a conversation with Jane McGonigal and not sound like an idiot. :)

Politically, I’m leaning toward Obama. Haven’t heard The Race Speech yet, but read a good bit of it and… that’s exactly what we need. Still, having the “trouble” of Clinton vs. Obama is a high-bottom problem, so I’m not stressing about the election so much. I’ll you what I am stressing about: climate change. How many more scientists is it going to take to say “WE have to do something NOW” before any administration starts listening. If The New President doesn’t do something significant in the first 100 days, we’re fucked. Our children will be living underground.

Well, that’s all for now. Hope you found it amusing. 😉

Noniconoclasts

April 04, 2008 By: admin Category: Futurism, Video

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There’s a show on TV. Let me rephrase… there’s a show on cable. It’s on The Sundance Channel, a network, in truth, that I would LOVE to work for any day of the week. Their programing is stellar, except for the marvelous hunk of shit called “Iconoclasts.”

Such a name bears vetting from a greater community than just producers at The Sundance Channel, doesn’t it? I mean, they could be all 2-point-oh-n-shit and ask the people via several THOUSAND media who THEY think are AMERICAN iconoclasts, because Americans are all the show profiles, and, as my ex-girlfriend Zan pointed out about baseball, it ain’t The WORLD Series unless teams from ALL OVER THE WORLD play in it! Capice???

If I were to be hired, by some miracle, at Sundance, my first order of business would be to fix “Iconoclasts.” Just because someone is famous, doesn’t mean a) they have anything interesting to say, or b) know how to conduct an interview. The format of this silly show is that celebrities interview each other. Would you ask a contractor to sing lead in The Police if Sting was feeling poorly….???

So, putting aside the gargantuan arrogance of that idea… um… let’s move on.

How I Would Change “Iconoclasts”:

#1, I’d call it something else, like “People. Talking.” HOW ABOUT THAT, BOB?????? Just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they need a special name. Jesus Christ…

#2, I’d pair people up better. Quentin Tarantino and Fiona Apple were so uncomfortable in the pilot episode that I spent the whole hour cringing and peeking through squinted eyes.

#3, I’d have a FORMAT. You know, that, little ‘ole thing we in television use to be ORGANIZED so the show doesn’t look like a trainwreck.

#4, I’d make sure the celebs had never met. MUCH more interesting if we’re all in the “meeting” together.

So, that’s my story. Peeved that what’s supposed to be the high class channel does this one, potential cool thing so freakin’ badly…

Happiness Is Currency

April 02, 2008 By: admin Category: Futurism, Happiness

I’m going to refashion myself as “a futurist.” I know that this makes me sound like I haven’t been born yet, but bear with me… Basically, we are living in the most exciting time for media next to the days of Gutenberg himself. We are living on the forefront of some incredible innovation and I wanna be a part of it! Mobile, web, interactivity, blurring the lines of virtual and real–all these things are happening and they might be great for society.

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At SXSW Jane McGonigal talked a lot about happiness. She read the same stuff I did about Positive Psychology when I was working at Laureate. Fascinating stuff. Anyway, she created an online game called World Without Oil that ended up winning a bunch of awards. It’s an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) that posed the question: “What if there was a national oil crisis? How you you survive?” Gamers created alternate realities by blogging, making videos, comics, photos essays, you name it about their experience in this fictional situation. The idea was to play the GAME so we could learn for the real future. Now THAT’S entertainment with a mission. But it also brings us back to ourselves and to each other. I think that the internet, while it originally took us away from each other, is now bringing us back. Chat, Live streaming video, mobile–all these things are bringing us closer to each other again. Virtual realities like email are the new universal, and Jane McGonigal, for one, is taking advantage of that.

Happiness Measure:
HIGH. I made a new friend yesterday and helped her with her huge amounts of bottles to be recycled.