Monday, March 27, 2006

For Musing and B

This is for Musing and my friend B because it will amuse them but probably no one else will get it.

We watched "Mirror Mask" last night written by the wonderfully fabulous, creative, funny and kind Neil Gaiman and designed/directed by one of his longtime collaborators Dave McKean. Simple story and Neil still has trouble with good endings but visually one of the best things I've ever seen.

I think it was because of this, I can't think of any other reason. I dreamt I met Gackt (pronounced Ga-Ku-To so they say, and not like what a cat does with hair, Japanese pop star, not Hyde, but friend of Hyde who is so perfect his face looks like a mask) in an ice cream parlor and he bought me ice cream and spoke to me in reasonable English but with a thick Japanese accent and he asked my opinion on all sorts of things, like whether he should do another movie (yes) or dress more like Mathew of Mathew's best hits (no) and everytime I would try to ask about Hyde and whether I could meet him he would change the subject. This is odd because while I think Gackt is beautiful I am not at all interested in him and while his voice is lovely I just find his songs somewhat formulaic. Does this mean I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth? Take what your given and don't waste it by asking about what you'd rather have?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Change of perspectives

So here it is again, midnight on a Sunday night. What a long stressful week it's been. There's a happy ending and a good lesson at the end of this--I'll try and keep to the salient points.

Remember how I said I had a loaner last week, well, $1100 later I got my car back on Monday and on my way to work the next morning it died again. The week before it had died on an off ramp between the highway and a very busy state route (95 and Route 9 for anyone in New England). Fortunately I was within sight of my office park and my friends/bosses/coworkers came out and pushed me to a slightly safer location and one of them used his Triple A to tow me to my mechanic and we all agreed how lucky I was I hadn't taken the Mass. Pike to work, coulda been worse, yadayada. So this past Tuesday with my newly "fixed" car I'm driving on the Pike and the car dies. This is rather like dying on the Autobahn for anyone who doesn't know the Pike. There is no shoulder and people routinely drive about 75 to 80 miles an hour and weave in and out. I was able to glide into the right lane but that was it. A cop came and pushed me a quarter mile to a part with a shoulder but the car still shook when other cars went by. So I get towed back to my mechanic and my husband and I have to face the fact that we probably have to buy a new car sooner rather than later. Blech. I have delayed reactions so that night I'm sitting in the bathtub and just start crying. It seemed so unfair--just when he's starting a new job and we thought we might get out of debt at last and "begin to live."

The next day I read about this 12 year old in Afghanistan who was married at 3. Fortunately not consummated, but nevertheless made to be a slave for her husband's family and beaten by her father-in-law and scalded leaving bald patches on her head and I felt like a dumb, rich American for feeling sorry for myself. The rest of the week was just so hard--shopping for the show I'm designing, trying to rememorize lines and get some rehearsal times together, work, stress about the car, keep my husband calm, etc. By Friday night I felt like crying when the guy in Kinko's made me repeat my order 4 times and then finally couldn't do it because it uses a copyrighted image, even though it's for College Theater or even when I couldn't park the stupid loaner correctly. It was just that kind of week.

Friday night I had a really good rehearsal for the Eugene O'Neill piece--lines weren't perfect, but I really felt like I was truly ACTING--that fine balance between "feeling" it and "presenting" it well. Sometimes I feel but you can't see it--sometimes people tell me I'm showing it well but I don't believe them because I'm not feeling anything so this was exciting so despite my exhaustion I felt a little better.

Today we had tech for the piece I designed and the cast is just so sweet and friendly and the lighting designer, sound designer and stage manager are actually really good at their jobs which doesn't always happen and I love the director who is so good to me and asked me to be IN a piece she's directing in a few weeks which is just really nice since most directors I design for don't want to think of me for acting, afraid I won't design for them anymore. And even though it didn't end until 10:30 there were minor notes and we all just felt really good. I was driving home and thinking about life.

The two blogs I'm actually trying to read consistently (listed to the left) both had sad pieces lately. One, my dear friend, lost her husband at the end of 2004 quite suddenly and she was writing about when does the sadness stop and you stop missing all the things you took for granted in a relationship and the other, a woman I found through our mutual admiration love and lust for Hyde but have written to since and found other interests in common wrote of the worst times in her life, like when her husband cheated and she lay on the floor and howled with pain (which having gone through it for similar reasons I can understand but you can't believe until you've lived it) when music got her through and I thought as I drove home and looked at the skyline of Boston from a couple of different directions--gee, I'm happy, right now. I don't hate this city, I'm working with people who make me feel really good and really good about myself, the shows are going well and even though I'm nervous and tired, I feel things are under control, I'm driving the car I love, albeit it's probably for a short time and it's cost me $4000 in the last four months, at least we both have reasonably paying jobs right now so buying a new car is a possibility which it wouldn't have been a month ago, I'm doing things I enjoy, my relationship with my husband is good and even the fact that Hyde has a new album coming out in a few weeks time and a friend just got "Grand Cross Conclusion" and we're going to watch it when my shows are done. This is my life as it is right now and it's really quite good and I am appreciating it as it happens. It's so seldom that I realize I'm happy as it's happening and stop to enjoy it. So thank you God, for this gift of happiness and appreciation. Thank you for the fact I have a car and a computer and a husband and a dog and a cat. That I am reasonably good at what I do and am able to do things that I enjoy with people I like. That I and the people I love all have reasonably good health. That money is coming in and we can afford some pleasures. Thank you. That's all.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Accomplishment

This is what I've done this weekend, starting Thursday night. It's for my own benefit to remind myself that I do a lot and a lot of it good. It says a lot about me but it's very long, so read if you want.

After work on Thursday I met a friend at a bookstore to plan invitations to a tea tasting party she's trying to put together. She ended up holding my shoulder bag because I had a "tree," well long branch in the back of the car. Did I mention this is a loaner because my car is in the shop? It's terminal. Basically it's like a relative who's dying of lung cancer--my mechanic is getting it through a bout of pneumonia but advised us we should start saying our good-byes. This is esp. annoying at this moment because my beloved car is a hatchback and the loaner is a sedan. The tree would have worked better in the hatchback. We ended up wandering a mall trying to find the perfect invitations--which we didn't, though we were considering a second best box of 20 for $14.95. We were at the mall at closing (10 pm) buying chocolate at Godiva to celebrate the fact my husband got a job at 5 pm after over a year of temping. We bought him a chocolate cigar and a macaroon and ourselves truffles. The next day I went to my "other" job. I've created full time work out of smaller pieces through my company http://www.useful-people.com/ and as I mentioned in the first entry--the pieces just flip flopped, so I do HR one day a week and executive assist four financial planners for 4 days a week. But cramming all of HR into one day means I had three interviews in one day--blech. At the card shop next door where I went to buy a Get Well card for the partner of a friend I found the second best box of card for half price so bought them as it seemed a sign. After work I went home for a half and hour and talked to my husband about his great new benefits (yeah!). Then I went to a rehearsal for a show I'm designing to see costumes (actor's own--low budget). I got home about 8. I have no memory of what we watched on television since we have no regular shows on Friday night, yet somehow I didn't end up going to bed until midnight. How does that happen?

Saturday morning we had the following conversation:
Him: I'm going to McKinninon's {local old fashioned grocer with really good/cheap cuts of meat}do you want to come? You could go to Goodwill {I had mentioned seeing something there for the show}.
Me: Ok, but I want to eat first and maybe take a bath.
Him: Well, I wanted to go early to avoid the crowds.
Me: It's already 10:30 and what crowds? Do you want to eat breakfast out?

So we ended up having a celebratory brunch which was fun--and I had a mimosa. I don't usually drink so I wobbled out of the restaurant at about noon, but I did manage to buy some things at Goodwill, buy a Superman lunch box at Newbury Comics (also for the show) and a rug at K-Mart (ditto) before coming home and napping.

When I woke up I did a quick tidy (which I do when I don't want to start something), sorted the laundry and realized we should have bought laundry detergent while we were out as I only had enough for two loads and had 5 loads to wash. Then decided it was too late to start anything creative (see what I mean?) although I did slap a little more paint on the sculpture I made for the show (by sculpture I mean I found a miniature tree, made little figures out of Sculpey, glued them together and sprayed it with copper paint). We ate dinner (husband cooks--only way I'd eat) and watched Good Night, and Good Luck, which was very good and a little frightening. It also dovetailed nicely with Network last week. Television is a tool--for good or for ill. Televisions don't kill people, people kill people. Watched Full Metal Alchemist which turned out to be the last episode--very sad both in terms of story and in terms of not being able to watch it anymore. Then panicked and decided I had to study lines for the Eugene O'Neill project I do with another actress. We haven't performed this since last August and we have two shows at the end of the month. I put on the Awake Tour (L'Arc~en~Ciel!) and tried to study, but kept staring at Hyde instead. :-p and ><. D'oh! Went to bed at 1:30.

Had to get up and eat quickly to meet at director's house to move her futon to the theater for the show (low budget professional--gotta love it, this is even an Equity Member's Project, which means all Equity Actors and yet, here they are wearing their own clothes-and mine-and borrowing furniture--so sad). I had roped my husband into this with the promise that it would only take an hour, but taking apart the futon, moving it and putting it back together even with 6 of us took almost two hours, and I banged up my sculpture like the careless idiot that I am. Then rushed home and backed out of a rehearsal that I should have gone to for Eugene and made a futon cover and two cushion covers for the show (since they need to be fireproof certified fabric and what's on there isn't) and realized that I still hadn't bought any laundry detergent.

Finally finished that about 8, watched The Simpsons, took a bath, watched L&O:CI, and Crossing Jordon while I did some hand sewing repairs on the mock hoop skirt I wear in the "Mourning Becomes Electra" part of Eugene. Crossing Jordon is so annoying sometimes because it has these stories which could never, ever happen in Boston but that's a thread for another day. Finally end the day by sorting the laundry I could wash and cleaning the gunk off of the iron.

But then of course I'm too wired to sleep. I didn't write all this to brag about how much I do because most weekends I seem to get nothing done but the laundry and I can't quite understand why. I get more done when I'm over booked like this. It's like inertia--I'm a body in motion, so I stay in motion. Then when it ends I crash hard and spend a weekend playing video games, watching movies and vegging and then find I can't get started until the next deadline because then I'm a body at rest. I tried to read--by my bed is Joyce Carol Oates The Faith of a Writer and C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity (am trying to put together my thoughts about Christianity but it's in high flux) but neither is relaxing and thought I should come write this down, because that was part of why I started the blog! So now it's 12:08 am and the alarm will go off at 7am and the week where I have to install a set and rehearse a show and work 40+ hours will begin and I will wonder why I'm so tired but at least my life is always varied and I have touched many things which are important to me and how many people can say, "Oh, don't mind the tree in the back seat--it's for the show." So a final yeah! Talk to you later. Dewa mata. Winka, winka.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Spam

I have three emails addresses pouring into one so I have a lot of spam in my inbox everyday. Some of the names have been great lately--almost Marx Brotherian (how's that for grammar?):
Ricochet V. Rickshaw
Metropolis L. Underpants (there's a sexual joke in here somewhere--esp. when compared to the lyrics of L'Arc`en`Ciel's Metropolis--but I'm not quite up to it, no pun intended)
Penitentiary Q. Pencil

I love random word generators.

This one's good:

http://www.elsewhere.org/bandname

I can waste a lot of time there.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Self editing

Woah! Reread my last post and found all kinds of errors. Must be from doing it at midnight on a Saturday after a long week. I am a mediocre speller, so apologize for that in advance. I believe that style sometimes (but only sometimes) trumps grammar, but I do try to always make sense.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

This week in my personal entertainment

Watched Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle last night. Ooooo, I loved it! I've heard people/critics say that it's not his best, but I found it delightful. Perhaps I'm biased because of the dog who reminds me of mine, but I think not. I am always blown away by his imagination.

Watched "Network" today. I missed a lot of the movies of the 70's because I was too young to see them, and by the time I wanted to see them, everyone I knew had already seen them. I've been trying to catch up, but sometimes the moment is just lost. I'd seen so many parodies of Apocalypse Now that it just struck me as funny when I finally saw it. Network is funny, but obviously deliberately so. I must read some Paddy Chayefsky (forgive me if I misspell, Gentle Reader). I had seen The Americanization of Emily when I was a teenager and I remembered it being good. Watched it again recently and realized it was brilliant. The lines, the acting. I didn't like Network as much, but was again boggled by his prescience.

I'm at an awkward point I reach every so often where I don't know what to read next. I was wandering amongst the books of our house that I haven't read. You must understand that we have more books than some lending libraries because of my husband's passion for books as well as mine. I love free things. I will pick up bags of books if they even vaguely interest me, if they are free. Unfortunately, sometimes nothing seems quite right. I want something with some substance, but Kim Stanley Robinson's Years of Rice and Salt seemed too weighty to get into. I tried rereading Old Curiosity Shop a few weeks ago and found that for once I could not get into the Dickensian language. Mysteries seem too light. Blech. I ended up pulling out a slim volume of short stories by John Crowley. Crowley is one of my favorite authors whom I've never managed to finish. My husband adores him and introduced him to me early on. The language is exquisite and very dense. I've started Little/Big two or three times and Aegypt as well and find myself so swept away by the writing that I wanted to go and write and ponder great thoughts myself instead of finishing the book. His writing demands complete attention, and I seldom give complete attention to anything. It's why I love Proust and have yet to make it through the whole of A La Recherche du Temps Perdue.
This is the intro. to the book of short stories:

We say to console us for the loss of Paradise
God gave to us alone among all his creatures
Hope and Memory. We might rather say,
Only because we are creatures burdened with
Hope and Memory do we intimate a Paradise
which we alone have lost.

You can see how one might spend a very long time simply considering those words and never manage to start the stories at all.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Oh, and one more reason not to Blog

You've got all those reasons for not being with someone, but you don't have one good reason for being alone.--wildly paraphrased from "Company"


Not to Blog--I don't read blogs... Isn't that terrible. So why the hell do I think it worthwhile to do my own. Alright, I read one or two, for awhile, with specific interests or because they're friends, but I don't follow through.

I believe in equivilant exchange. To be a good person I need to read others. If I want comments I need to leave meaningful comments of my own. Or do I? Is it enough that this is for me. Is it selfish? or self-empowering? Hmmmm....

Notes on adoption

I'm adopted from The Republic of South Vietnam, and if you know anything, that will give you an idea of my age. Last year I found and joined a group called VAN. This is an excerpt from a thread that recently appeared at the VAN site. My response is at the bottom. I've done each in a different color. I'll probably write more about this at some point. It's a hot button for me.

Initial post

ABC7, a local news channel in San Francisco, CA just aired a segment on
Amerasian issue.

Click here for the story:

Local Woman Finds Out She Doesn't Exist

First Response
You know, something kind of like this happened to me. I was returning from Montreal a few years ago (post-9/11) and only had my driver's license on me. When I went into Canada, the border officer told me that I should be fine but in the future I should bring my passport (at this point, an ex had thrown it out anyway). So no big deal...I go to Montreal, do my thing, and am heading back. I get to the border, am asked if I'm a US citizen while he's looking at my license, and I say yes. He asks if I've got any proof that I'm a US citizen, to which I answer, "my license". He responds with, "That's not proof of citizenship. You need to come inside. "So he takes my ID, I move my car, and walk inside the building. I wait about 15 minutes, and am finally called to a desk. I've got a videocamera in my face recording all of this. I'm asked if I'm a US citizen again, to which I reply yes. They run my name, "NAME", through the BCIS database. I don't come up. Guess what? I don't exist. I inform him that I'm adopted, which is why my surname doesn't match my looks. He asked if I remembered my birthname and where I was officially adopted, to which I replied yes. Chiem Ngoc Minh. Philadelphia. He finds it and it's associated with an alien registration number that should have been put into their updated computer database decades ago when they stopped doing paper. For the hell of it, I said, "Look it up both ways...as Minh Ngoc Chiem, too". Guess what? He finds me under that name, as well. With another alien registration number. So at this point, I've got 2 alien registration numbers and no C-number (citizenship number). I have a C-number and the first alien registration number on my naturalization certificate. Anyway, he let me back into the country because I could remember my birthname and where and what year I was adopted at/in. He said if I hadn't, I would have ended up in a jail cell awaiting trail, and that's usually about 180 days until that happens. So I get back home, make a call to the congressman in the district I grew up in and another call to the congressman in the district I was adopted in, as well as a call AND letter with copies of my naturalization cert to the BCIS office in Philly. After 6 months of red tape, I gave up. I was told by a congressman's clerk that as long as I have a US passport, it cannot be denied that I'm a US citizen. Since then, I've been back to Viet Nam, Japan, and the DominicanRepublic without any issues getting back into the country (on a renewed passport).


Second Response

Wow, this happened to me too, when I tried to get a passport. It took a lot of time and effort from my life, and I had to work hard to let go of the resentment against my parents for dropping the ball. I found out when I was a Junior in college, and by that time had been working, voting, driving, getting state aid, and existing illegally. It was quite a blow. I was 21 then...too old to get anything expedited, and boy did we try, but the INS wouldn't budge an inch. I'm 31 now, and I just took my oath on February 3rd, 2006. I truly believe everything does happen for a reason. I would have left the country by now to travel the world, and instead have remained stateside to live and work. I just applied for my passport, and it was gripping to let go of that Certificate of Citizenship that it took a decade to get. The funny thing is that 31 years later, we still have the original paperwork that was filled out to Naturalize me in 1979. It was all filled out, and for some reason was returned, but never sent back in with the changes requested. I was taken to court and the judge tapped me on the head and pronounced me a citizen. My parents were going through separation and divorce and we moved a dozen times after that and the paper trail just never caught up. My case was delayed because I did a deportable offense and had to fess up to it, which was voting while not a US Citizen...but thinking I was a Citizen, I saw it as my duty. So, that's the story to accompany this one. I have met a few people that have also had the same experience...I was upset that law in 2000 was not retroactive. I'm lucky to have not been deported. But then again, what an adventure that would have been!

MY Response
Yeah, I've been through this. I was mad at my mother too, but then after dealing with the INS repeatedly I decided it was them. I too found out over 18--too late for parental help. Went through college ignoring it. Then filed, thought it was going through--wanted to get a passport to go on my honeymoon and was told it was a tangled mess. Basically they told me (despite correspondence with a congressman whose wife was a professor at my college) that I should file as though I had entered the country to marry my husband--which required all kinds of letters explaining how I'd apparently been waiting 23 years to marry him. So I had to do the 3 years and was sworn in a month after 9/11.
I've had one or two good INS reps., but I loved the one who asked if I could just go back to my country of origin and get an exit visa. I said, "Unless you have a time machine, no, because the country listed on my birth certificate doesn't exist anymore! (Rep. of South VietNam). Have you been living under a rock for 30 years? I can no more prove I'm VietNamese than that I'm American" Needless to say I'm still a little bitter.
At the time I filed I requested a copy of my INS file. It arrived the day after my father died. According to the checklist inside everything had been filed, BUT when you look the citizenship documents are missing. Like you said about everything happening for a reason--I quoted the letters of reference in my father's eulogy because they talked about how his friends thought he was wonderful enough to adopt.
I know what you mean about handing over the Naturalization form for a passport. I almost hyperventilated when the clerk walked away with mine. "You're not taking that are you?!!"
What scares me is that we're going through this after going through the American school system and speaking fluent English. I can't imagine doing this as an actual immigrant.
I now have a job in HR and I have workers whose work authorization cards expire. The INS claims that if the worker files 90 days before expiration they'll have their card but time and again this doesn't happen and I have to stop them from working sometimes for months at a time. When I call the INS at the "Employer" number they just say that they have no contact with the actual department and can't comment!



Where does the time go

I seem to be doing this once a week--Saturday nights when my husband has gone to bed and I've watched Full Metal Alchemist. No time, no time. Like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party--no room, no room. Have a short list of topics to write on that I carry to every job and never get to.

Just saw Neil Gaiman's blog listed in the of interest column on the log in page. I love Neil Gaiman. Just read "Anansi Boys." Delightful, but not as thought provoking as "American Gods," which is fine. I have a post card from Mr. Gaiman because I mailed him a Halloween wallhanging and he wrote a very nice thank you on a postcard with a Charles Vess illustration.

Watched "The Most Terrible Time of My Life" last night--Japanese, early 90's with a character named Miku Hamma (or rather Hamma Miku, but the joke's lost that way). Very funny and sweet and sad and fantastically shot. When it began I said, "That guy (the lead) looks like the guy in "Mystery Train" which I must have seen 12 years ago and IMDB let me know that it WAS the guy in "Mystery Train." Wow.

Watched "Live Flesh" tonight, a Pedro Almodovar based on a Ruth Rendell, one of my favorite authors. Despite changing several details, I really felt that Almodovar captured the spirit of her novel better than any adaptation that I've seen which always seem to stifle her writing. She writes with so much insight into human motivation, good and bad, and it just gets reduced to British moires in adaptations.