Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Can You Write With Makeup on?

I am having an outburst of writing energy lately. Poured into a screenplay about a Saudi Girl in the United States. Everyday I wakeup wondering what will happen to her. I keep feeling restless until the time I can sit down and actually find out. When I'm with her, I feel at home. Happy. And Likeable. Its like we have mutual feelings for each other.

My writing process used to follow a certain pattern. For example, I would need an hour until I get a nice flow of thought/writing (if any). I would need the room to be empty, with no one in sight (even if muted). And surely, I would need nothing to be marked on my schedule (even at a remote hour).

This time its different. I open my laptop anytime anywhere and tic-ttic-tic-tic. If something comes up, or my time is up, I simply click the laptop shut. No sadness. No regretts Just the knowing that soon enough I'll continue. I have even been able to do multiple tasks at once!

One thing, however, remains consistent with my usual writing mood. The days when I am most creative, I tend to neglect myself physically. My hair remains uncombed. Eyeliner smeared. Body sugaring behind schedule (you don't want that from a middle Eastern girl, trust me :P) My clothes loose fitted and unmatching. As if negligence matches me to the earth, forcing me to touch it with my own hands.

I don't recall writing creatively with make-up on. Not ever.
And I wonder if other writers feel that way...

Friday, January 25, 2008

Saudi Students in Japan

Just came back from “Saudi Women Event” at PSU, and am still in a patriotic mood :P

So, I checked Youtube, for listings of “Saudi Students”.
To my surprise, I found this video of “Eid Aladha dance event in Japan, 2007”:

Though Saudis, especially while dancing, tend to be on the chaotic, spontaneous side, these students were wonderfully choreographed.

It got me really curious about Saudi students' experience in Japan. How much the nature of such a country is influencing their attitude and organizational skills? How would Japan graduates be different from those of North America?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Activism vs Stairmaster

For a portion of my life, I was on the “opinionated activist” side. 15 - 21 had been the peak for such outburst of energy. However, towards my mid-twenties I began to refrain to an observatory state.

Part of this “cooling down” process was by natural causes, such as marriage, childbearing, and living abroad. However, a greater part was intentional. The more I retreated from the crowd, the marching, and the raising of signs, the more absurd it all seemed.

There’s something repetitive about it. Repetitive as in walking the “Stairmaster”, convincing yourself that you are climbing, and connecting your eyes with the virtual mountain on the screen.

The immediacy of the exercise: quickening heartbeats, shortness of breath, gained miles, lost calories, sweating, and arrival at the top, it all gives immediate pleasure and a sense of achievement.

But soon as you get off, another person climbs, and they go through the very same virtualized pleasure and achievement, and they get off too. In one enclosed area, people are constantly getting on and off bikes, stairs, weight stations, etc, some to gain the life, others to lose the guilt. But they do not seem to “get there”…

The cycle doesn’t stop. And people come tomorrow, the week after, and the month to come. Like wise, the activists. Their message seems headed for the goal, but where is the goal? And why do they never get there?

Once you are an opinionated activist, you must make peace with the fact that your life has become about coming to the same room everyday, and going through virtual climbing. If you don’t, you won’t survive. Your frustration with not arriving at a final destination will suck the life and will out of you. You will develop an animosity with people who have chosen the comfort and not the workout. The street and not the room.

Activism is a choice, and so is non-activism. But often the two sides condemn each other for their choices. For their “uselessness.” Activists seem “angry”, "pessimistic" and "complaining" all the time, while non-activists seem "philosophical", "destructive", and "pragmatic". And that is to be expected due to the varying nature/dynamic of each.

Activism is about movement, and observation is often about thought. One is vertical and the other is horizontal. Hardly ever do they intersect, largely because of their misconception and prejudice of one another. When they do, change begins to happen.

Italy 1945 = "..." 2000

With reference to the following quote from Carlo Levi's “Christ Stopped at Eboli”:

“Every now and then their black eyes darted a curious glance from under their veils in my direction and then darted away again like woodland animals. Because I was not yet used to their dress (a poor sort of costume in no way equal to the famous varieties worn at Pietragalla and Pisticci) they seemed to me all alike, with their faces framed by a veil folded several times and falling over their shoulders.”

* Please fill in the blanks.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Do our Preferences Define us?

When I develop a liking for something that was outside my area of interest I am always amused. I ponder on how we often mention “taste” so matter-of-a-factly. How we say things like: I like pop music, hate romance novels, and adore abstract paintings as a mean of self introduction. Is taste a fact, a choice, or an accumulation of things we have come to know through our day to day experience? Does taste define us, or does it define our limitation?

*on a personal note, happy semester to all school lovers out there. I do like school by the way. Don't judge me =P

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Non-Fat Language Please!

Every once in a while, language needs the ear of non-native speaker. A person who is more “message oriented” to shake off the fat and go straight for the kill. Today, I was dying to do that as a 30ish lady asked the barista, “You do not happen to have a cup holder sir, would ya?” Make note of the holder sitting in arm’s reach.

Not that I’m letting myself or my fellow non-natives off the hoop too easily. To be honest, when I first lived in Canada (the English speaking one,) I “like” believed the word “like” to be “like” a 100% immigrant invention. Immigrants made it up to buy time until they translated the next thought. When the native speakers stole the invention, it proved its genius. The natives' hastened dialogue could finally be slowed down, and the difficult words spaced out.

So, yeah: Every once in a while, language needs the ear of a non-native speaker. But it wouldn’t happen to need the tongue of a non-native speaker, would it? :P

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Eloping, Saudi Arabian Style

This past December, I heard of three Saudi students getting married in the States. Two of the weddings involved sending the bride from Saudi Arabia to be wedded to her husband on US soil. In both cases, the grooms were unable to celebrate at home due to visa renewal phobia.

When I heard about these weddings. Tried to imagine the bride on a plane. The bachelor groom, homesick, surrounded by temptations that his religious and cultural associations forbid, waiting in the midst of his many guy friends. The bride arriving to the absolute unknown. Doing her make up, hair styling, dress fitting, last minute touchups at uncertain locations. Walking the isle in an academic institute she might attend after the wedding. Her white dress lefted by Saudi girls from villages and cities known and unknown to her.

I tried to smell the feelings arising on such a day. The electricity sparking amongst the many bachelors who are witnessing a fantasy made easy-oh so easy. I imagined the girls eyeing the guys. The guys eyeing the girls. Not with their eyes, but with the heart of a human who feels home to be the distance between a girl and a boy who carry the very same home within.

I imagined heart beats arising like drums, receptive of how with every step, the bride and groom are peeling off things that seemed essential: accurate revised plans, financially explosive wedding, exaggerated feasts, lengthy guest lists, protocols and diplomacy tactics between two families.

I wondered if this was but the head of the berg. With 18+ thousand Saudi students in the States, many with expired visas and fear of returning home and going through the renewal process, are we to hear more of these semi-elope stories? Is marriage-made-simple going to be the 2008 trend?