Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Hobbit-sized Tunisian Blue Door


Oh how I love this blue color.....so much so that I'm painting the back door of my house with African blue...as soon as it gets warmer....I've got a teen boy and a can of paint waiting.
~~
Every week, I find a quote on Sunday and place it on my weekly appointment calender. Something to focus on.....thought I would share my quote for this week.
~~
" A single event can awaken within us a stranger totally unknown to us. To live is to be slowly born."
~~
---Antoine de Saint-Exupery
~~~
That's nice isn't it? Every day there's an event that has the potential to awaken a new side of ourself....

Saturday, January 27, 2007

What I Thought About When I Sat in My Closet


So as promised, I sat in my closet tonight to see exactly what I would think about if I had the time, a soft chair, and the inclination to sit in a closet.

The first thing that I thought about was shoes. Whew....hub needs deodorant in those things (he's not gelling; he's smelling)....then I looked at my own shoes ...mostly black....lots of walking shoes...and only a few high heels. A totally proper wardrobe of shoes ...which was...depressing. What woman wants to admits she owns mostly practical shoes?

I did have a much more eclectic collection a couple months ago. It included clear plastic high heels which I never wore (it looked like I stole them from Cinderella), shiny silver flats ( what was I thinking?) and some really naughty looking spike black high heels...which sadly didn't fit anymore (I now regret I didn't save them because I think they were involved in the conception of my last child.) These fun shoes are probably sitting in a Goodwill warehouse waiting their turn to be loaded on a cargo ship headed to Africa or the Far East soon. (You did know charitable organizations sell a lot of your donated clothes which end up in Third World Countries? )

Note to self: Liven up the shoe collection.




The next thing I thought about was money. A few years ago, I decided it would be a good thing to have a hundred dollar bill around for an emergency. Of course, with the kids, I thought it would be best to keep it out-of-sight.....so they stumble upon it and go off on some Pizza hut binge. Of course you know what happened....I hid the bill so well I 've never found it. I can't remember if I stuck it in a shoe, or in a purse, or under something. Even when I cleaned my closet out, I never found it. Yet it was in there someplace. Oh well, some day some woman at a Goodwill store will open a small secret pocket in a purse or pair of pants and have a nice surprise.

Realizing I was being very superficial and would have to admit that in my blog. I tried to think of deep thoughts....something like world-peace, uranium depletion, custom motorcycles. I was staring at the carpet...when I remembered! I revised the first story I ever got published right here on the closet floor. Really. My kids were having friends over, I was nervous because the submission deadline was the next day, and the story didn't read right. So I laid on the closet floor and read it out loud, revising it as I went along. Its something I still do...(read out loud not compose on the floor.) So I can honestly say.....I came out of the closet and started my freelance writing career.

But if I'm to be totally honest.....you know what I thought about the most? Yodelling. Really. A friend of mine who is a freelance writer, sent me this phrase earlier tonight:

I have had to take up yodelling for relaxation.


That was a startling thought and sentence. Where does one "take up" yodelling and why? I googled yodelling and found myself on one of those search engine black holes. Did you know yodelling is featured in Germany pornography? (But dang, I couldn't find any.) Did you know the most popular yodellers are Tarzan, Heidi, and Julie Andrews? Yodelling is more popular in the United States than in Europe. Have I missed something....do you folks in bigger cities have ads running for yodelling schools? or yodelling conventions? or yodelling meets?

Of course, I found ...what else? Yodelling videos.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/178160/incredible_11_year_old_yodeller/

and a deeply disturbing 4 minute video with puppet clowns yodelling....I wanted to hate it...really I did....but at the 3 minute mark....I was laughing so hard....well I was almost....yodelling.

This video is rated D for disturbing and I won't be responsible for bad dreams, wet dreams, or any other negative impact this may have on a viewer.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3119238096845809676

It's time to get out of my closet.



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What's in My Closet


Hey....let's be fair....I thought I would take you on a tour of my closet. I admit I have a chair in my closet too....although I've never sat in it. For as long as I can remember ( and we have lived in this house for 10 years) my husband's pants have rested in this chair. Not the same pants, thank god, but every other day, one pair of pants gets moved to the laundry basket and another pair of pants takes its place....kind of like the circle of life....although Elton John might not have found pants as poetic to sing about...

I am not sure where I got this chair ....it's been in my life forever...I know I painted the chair black ( it was white originally...I guess to be more ice cream shop-ish)...and I know my daughter painted the stars and moon on it....but I've never had an ice cream shop....and its a bit too cutesy for me....but there it is.



This is what I call cute and scary. The little doll is Thumbelina. Really. Thumbelina. I got her when I was a little girl. She was in an Easter basket. I still remember going to church Easter morning and coming home and seeing her tucked into that funky green plastic grass. I wasn't too fond of dolls.....because I found playing house a bit boring....(I still do...lol)....

Thumbelina sat on my bed ....little girls were always supposed to have some type of doll anchoring their pillow on their bedspread. Thumbelina was a fine anchor. It didn't matter that I caught fireflies, grilled worms on our bbq, roller skated with the boys on my block or played cowboys and Indians....No one could accuse me of being a tomboy.... I had my obligatory doll on my bed.

Thumbelina nearly came to a bad end when my kids were little. Even though she was stored out of sight....my daughter found her and carried her off to play.....Suddenly, my daughter and son were screaming at each other....I found them having a tug-o-war ....with Thumbelina in the middle! I screamed at them to stop ....but Thumbelina's arm had already been ripped off. I almost cried....all those years I've saved her....and protected her....and there she was armless.

I found a big upholstery needle and some tough thread and sewed her arm back. Since I can't sew......I can tell youThumbelina looks like she visted Dr. Frankenstein for her reconstructive surgery. But I put her dress back on....stored her way up on the closet shelf....and now that my kids are teenagers....she seems to be safe.

The scary cow comes from my grandparents. It was in my grandmother's house for a long time even when I was a kid. It scared me. Look at it's feet. It never could stand upright even with those plastic shoes. There was a older man in my neighborhood who had a big metal and leather leg brace--my mother told me he had polio. I didn't know what polio was but I was sure scary cow had it too.



These are my free-range shirts. They don't live in a glass-enclosed cabinent. They touch one another, share lint and appear to be colored-challenged.

Tomorrow I'm going to sit in my closet and see what I think about. This will be a first.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

You ain't from Around Here--or Yes, You're right I'm not a Southern Woman


Lordy lordy....I don't want to talk about Yankees and Southerners....or as we now politely call ourselves--Transplants and Natives. Oh no, to start a conversation on the differences between Northern and Southern women....would be very unwise.
~~~
But I need to make a comment here.....I was reading an old copy of the home style section of a newspaper when I found a small blurb about what one woman considers her most cherished personal space.
~~~
The Woman is a stay-at-home mom and lives in a ritzy neighborhood. When asked what's her favorite personal space the woman answered....her closet. Really....it's right here in print....I have proof.
~~~
Apparently the woman's closet has "three crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, a French armchair and ottoman sitting in a corner and plenty....of glass doors that keep the dust off my clothes."
Okay you read that right......the woman has 3 chandeliers in her closet....crystal chandeliers and what's worse.....she sits in a big chair with her feet up and what? Stares at her clothes??? There is a picture of the woman draped over this elegant chair with an afghan tucked under her and her glass-enclosed cabinets with her blouses hanging in them in the background. Glass-enclosed cabinets....so dust won't touch her blouses. Looking at the picture, it appears there are lights in those glass-enclosed cabinets....so she obviously can see her blouses....because obviously when you have 3 chandeliers in your closet....you don't have enough light.....perhaps she sits there with a good book (or a Nordstrom catalogue) and reads by the soft light reflected off her clothes.
~~~~
And when she was asked by the reporter how she would improve this space...you know what her answer was? She would have a professional come in and organize her closet so she could find things more easily. Yes, I bet its real hard to find your blouses in glass enclosed cabinets with the light shining on them. Truly a job for a professional...but a professional what?....Is there such a thing as professional closet organizer? And how does one know the difference between a professional closet organizer and an unprofessional closet organizer? Might an unprofessional closet organizer allow her sleeves to touch? Or her hemlines to be arranged in a random fashion? Might her bras and panties touch?
~~~~
And finally, the zillion dollar question...what do you think about when you sit in a closet? Please someone tell me......

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sending the Manuscript off---


Tough evening. I had to get the manuscript up and out to the publisher. Lots of details...lots of proofing....and lots of angst. My stomach was in a knot..... I realized at the last minute....the pages just didn't look right. So at midnight (how cliche) ....I ran out to Kinkos to have them re-xeroxed and bound. When he handed it to me....I just said wow....because it looked good, really good....there was a medical student getting some binders together and she looked over my shoulder at the some of the pictures and said ...how cool.......which made me laugh..... cause I was thinking of putting on the last page of the proposal....100% of strangers who looked at this book proposal thought it was great! ....you know....like those ultra positive reviews they put on the back of every book you read.

In the morning....I checked everything again and headed off to the post-office.....swiped the credit card and waved good-bye. I was totally expecting to feel nervous....weird....anxious...but instead I felt peaceful....which is odd.....but....I've done the best I could.....and no matter what happens I know I'm resilient enough to not only handle it....but make something out of it. I'm real confident of that......that's the one positive thing about getting knocked around a bit in life....it teaches you....you can survive.....if you don't take risks...and fail.....you'll never know you can tough hard times out. Trust me....I can handle hard times...lol...

Maybe too...that's another gift Africa gave me.........if you saw what a grimy, sweaty, whacked-out person I was at times.....and I still made it...onto to that big ol' jumbo Air France jet in Lome back home....lol......well why wouldn't I survive this?

Maybe they'll accept it...may it's not right for them....or maybe I need to revise and improve it before I send it somewhere else......but that just may be the process....amen. Of course, it's only 3/4 completed...so now I have to buckle down and finish the rest....no matter if this house yeah or nays....I want a completed project....because.....not to complete it....well that would be the real tragedy.



(if you click on the picture...it enlarges and you can read gina's little remark....i just discovered this fact o'blog life........lol...wow...now i can leave secret messages to you all.....lol....)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

This Week's Door Picture from Paris


Sometimes it's the simple, quiet, battered door that catches my attention. I found this door on a narrow street in the Montremarte district of Paris. In Paris, many front doors are entered right off a busy sidewalk....but sometimes when someone briefly leaves a door open you see it may lead into a huge foyer where stairways and hallways take you to apartments or even in some cases directly into a courtyard where Vestas and bikes may line the walls.
Feeling a bit melancholy today as I try and whip up my enthusiasm to finish my book proposal with a bang....this door spoke to me....I guess I feel...gray, banged up and a bit tired....LOL>>

Monday, January 15, 2007

Rediscovering Paris

I was searching for a picture yesterday and was surprised to find how many photos I have completely overlooked in my files because they are from Paris versus Africa. These pictures, now months old, seem new and undiscovered. I sat down with them on this cold rainy day and looked to see if there might be a few I could share.

I remember shooting this picture for a couple of reasons. I loved the man's arm crocked at his elbow (so continental!) and I loved the woman's shoes. I spied those heels from across the street and immediately had shoe envy since I was walking in oh-so-practical athletic shoes. I also liked the light....it was blue... just like in this picture....a consequence of walking down a narrow street with tall venerable old buildings casting gray shadows which reflected the overcast sky.


Here's another photo that surprised me. I took it in the Rodin Museum. I remember passing by it without much thought.... then retraced my steps. "It looks like a Van Gogh," I said to myself but it seemed so ordinary....no glass to protect it....no huge lumbering guards next to it...not even a spot light..instead it just occupied space quietly....as if it was confident that eventually it would dawn on you that it was a Van Gogh....and you would rush back....to adore it. Which is exactly what I did.....

The picture is titled "Portrait of Pere Tanguy" and it has a curious Japanese background. Pere Tanguy owned a paint shop in Paris and apparently was immortalized because he made generous advances of supplies to Van Gogh and other unknowns such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Signac. Van Gogh, during this period, had purchased over 400 Japanese woodcuts which he exhibited in small cafes and studied. He felt their clean lines and their effortless style had something to teach him and some critics feel they helped him break away from Western convention. Van Gogh's painting room had many of these woodcuts pinned to the wall....which is why they appeared in this portrait.

I found 6-7 other pictures from my Paris trip that I thought were interesting...a chocolate shop, a little itty bitty smart car, the Eiffel Tower...and ohhhhh a wonderful food picture from Montremarte. Instead of clumping them here out of context....I decided to post them in my Paris entries in August/September of 06. So please scroll down (a one second scroll) and have a peek at them.
The one I have absolutely fallen in love with is titled.."Window Shopping in Paris." It's wonderful and quiet.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Caught on Camera: Her Secret Late Night Forays to Wal-Mart!


Caught!
I didn't think anyone would be up .....of course, that's when I go....when my family is asleep....this way they don't know how long I'm gone...and what I've bought....I mean what I've really bought...I don't tell them the truth in the morning....in the harsh reality of daylight......I can't tell them about the speciality potato chips which are now hidden in cabinet (the one above the microwave) or about the cache of superfine roller ball pens.....or the peaceful donuts...which in all honesty ....I bought for them.
~~~
I don't go very often....I usually don't even understand the trigger. It just happens....like it did last night. I was reading....got up to get a drink of water.....and then it started....this drumming in my brain:
~~~
"You need to get superfine roller ball pens to work on your manuscript tomorrow.....You need to get....superfine roller ball pens....now.......Don't look at the clock....it's really important for you to have those superfine roller ball pens... you need ...right now...it's logical to make a trip at 12:15 am to Wal-Mart....you're up ...you're awake....this way you won't have to get up early tomorrow...you can do it now....go to Wal-Mart now...Gina ...right now ....right now."
~~~~
That's how it starts....and it seems logical....and oh.... it feels so good to slip into my trailer trash outfit.....to blend in with the night crowd at Wal-Mart.....tight tight black leggings....old black athletic shoes....my son's sweatshirt....my other son's extra large bulky hooded sweatshirt....no primping ...no make-up....a scarf over my hair...(in the ethnic 'hood I grew up in--- we would call it a babushka)...and the car keys.....it's like traveling incognito....tasting another life......and when a Backstreet Boys song begins on the radio station.....I don't switch to another station.....I sing along.
~~~~
And let me tell you something about Wal-Mart late at night...It becomes a fantasy land. It's never that interesting in the daylight. There are products in their aisles....you see only at night when you're not in a hurry and there's this vast wide open canyon feeling....and the night staff actually has an old YMCA song on the overhead....(It's fun to be at the YMCA>>>)
~~~~
I linger over the wonders of capitalism....a humidifier shaped like a basketball...faux silicone to fill "your unsightly wrinkles and laugh lines".....I walk slowly through the aisle of broken and 80% off Xmas items.. and stare slack-jawed at pots of live blooming daffodils and begonias..I stroke Teddy bear bellies in the Valentine aisle....and I buy weird food. Stuff that I would never buy in the daylight.
~~~~~
Every bit of nutritional knowledge you have stored away in your brain fades away in Wal-mart after midnight. It's not your fault though....they have special subliminal messages slipped into that clever funky music that's blaring...they have machines ...ionizers they call them...supposedly cleaning the air....but they're not....they're blocking all the Heart Association warnings and every newspaper article that warned you about nitrates, fitrates, ritetraites and of course partraits...(or was that partridges?)
~~~~
I'm strong enough and smart enough to know I need decoys...should I be questioned in the morning as to why there are Wal-mart plastic bags in the garbage or on the counters....I have to be prepared.
~~~~
"I bought pens and fruit and milk and yogurt icecream."
What I told Them I Bought
I can look them in the eye and say that......I usually leave the grapes or the banana around to further cloud the trail.
~~~
I don't tell them about the other stuff. The two cans of diet energy drink. The new "WEE-BIT" cheese which I bought because it looked exactly like the stuff I ate in AFrica...or the superman doll I bought on sale (way too kinky a story for this blog) or the butter cookies.....complete with a small tub of milk chocolate frosting....(it was a recipe suggestion on the back of the package...I was just following orders!)

What I didn't Tell Them About

And then....I must have gotten out of range of the ionizers and the music....because at the check-out counter....I started to QUESTION what I bought......was the frosting necessary? Did I really need to try goat-cheese sprinkled chips with sun dried tomatoes?.....and those donuts.....they started making me nervous.......but that's when Wal-mart pulls out its secret weapon....a sweet young cashier.....an innocent-looking blonde-haired blue eyed girl probably making her way through college or graduate school or beauty school.

" I don't need these donuts.....maybe I should put them back."

"Oh, don't worry about the donuts.....how can anyone resist?.....they look so peaceful." (Note: actual qoute from cashier...I wrote it down in the car so as not to forget it.)

"Peaceful?"

"Yes, they're peaceful."

In today's world ...could I really not afford to buy peaceful donutss?


Peaceful donuts

So I brought them home.....and just as I was hiding things.....and leaving out the nutrional decoys ....my son walked down the stairs....and that's how I was caught.

I'm so embarrassed.....what if people knew? I guess I would have to limit my trips to Wal-mart to daylight shopping hours only......when they turn off the ionizers and play suitable music ....and I wouldn't even see the diet energy drinks on the bottom shelf....(I'm wondering if this blog has been originated by the consumption of just that type of beverage.)

Now that I'm exposed...I guess I better behave.......I won't go to Wal-Mart after Midnight.....I'll reform.....I'll dress southern nice in my dockers and oh so cute sweaters.... with all my jewelry on......I won't wear trailer trash outfits accented by babouskas.....

but wait.....there's something I won't give up........... I can't give up.......Something I bought on one of those late night trips to Wal-Mart......

MY PINK PLASTIC FLAMINGO! ~~~~

Remember........


Another great purchase from last night.....but did I need the sunglasses? or did I just love the label?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

This Week's Door Picture from Agadez, Niger

I've decided to come out of the closet ....or at least the closet door and admit I love to take pictures of doors. I was going through my African pictures and found several....I won't tell you how many pictures I have from Paris....lol...My bulletin board has doors on it from places I can't place to very distinct places such as Tazmania, Australia, Singapore. Every place I have traveled I find myself staring at doors. So I decided I'm going to share them. Why keep such passion under wraps?

This curious door I discovered down a back alley in Agadez, Niger. "Style Love" I don't have a clue why it has an English title or what it might mean. If you've seen anything in your travels like it..... let me know. Maybe an artist or a musician...a foreigner? How about a creative guess? Who would go through this door and where does it lead?

(a.gina.picture)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Star Wars in Tunisia


Did ya know a bit of Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia?
~~~~
I originally started life as a nurse and was a nursing instructor for a while. (Warning: You must endure a philosophical introduction before I get to the point.) I taught physical assessment which suited me well since I'm very visual....and I'm also very hands on....I liked the touching and feeling part of assessment... the "laying on of hands" and I liked the puzzle aspect of it...Why is her skin this color? Why does his chest rise asymmetrically?

~~~
I wasn't an expert in physical assessment when I took on the job....but as you know teaching teaches the teacher....and I soon found myself staring at people while waiting in line at grocery stores or really any type of queue. Hmmmm, that ticket guy had pterygium....hmmm...that woman's legs show signs of chronic venous insufficiency. All of a sudden... everyone had funny eyelids, interesting moles, and lots of things to stare at. I'm sure people didn't sprout these interesting physical variations just when I became an instructor....but suddenly a whole part of the world opened up to me that I had never noticed........I developed (or did I steal this from somewhere?) a motto for my class.....You see only what you know.....so the more you know the more you "see."
~~~~
Which brings me(finally) to Star Wars......part of my research for my book involved studying Matmata......a small speck of a place in southern Tunisia. I was supposed to go there on my Sahara trip....but when Libya nixed visas to Americans ....that part of my trip got scrubbed.
~~~~
The reason Matmata is a cool place is because folks live underground there.....in troglodyte homes. It's a pretty smart way to live in that environment. It's blistering hot and the Berbers (indigenous folks of North Africa) were always having uninvited "guests" come to their land....Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks.....all looking to take or do something the local folks felt wasn't exactly friendly.... So ...they dug pits.....(not like a BBQ pit) but really big pits....perhaps 50 feet across in the soft clay soil.....and then carved out rooms for an eating area, bedrooms, grain storage....even a room for the sheep, goats, donkeys. When hostile folks came a-visiting....why they'd look out over the low desert hills.....and never suspect someone was living there....since they weren't any physical structures...and because the earth is a wonderful insulator..... your cave rooms were cool in the summer....and warm when those cold stinging desert winds hit in winter....smart living.
~~~~
Film scouts for Star Wars..."A New Hope" (first movie, Part IV)....... thought the desert in Tunisia would be a great place for the opening desert/dunes scenes. But they also stumbled upon the troglodyte homes.....and to make a long story short.....the underground homes of the Berbers became Luke Skywalker's Aunt and Uncle home. They actually used one of the underground homes(see above) and it's now left in its post-production state....(part of a thriving tourist economy that brings money into an area no one would have wandered into except a wayward archaeologist)
~~~~
So coupled with my recent Tunisian experience and my new knowledge of Matmata, I just had to rewatch the first Star Wars episode..... which I did last night.....and it was like a whole different film! Look look at the troglodyte home!...Those are Saharan dunes!.....hey....Obi-wan and the Sand people ......those hooded wool tunics are what the local people wear...and wait wait.....Tatooine.....that's Luke's planet???? Well that's the town next to Matmata....and the houses in the rough and tumble town with the famous interplanetary bar.... those are North African homes with their mosque-like domes and mud/clay white-washed structure....it was amazing how much of North Africa in in the film....and how much Lucas took from that environment.
~~~~
So now Star Wars is...in a weird way...part of my African experience...knowing and being there ...helped me see things I wouldn't have paid much attention to....hmmmmm....one of those Star Wars films takes place on some snowy planet......did I tell you I've always been interested in going to Baffin Island...in the Artic Circle??...lol...(mush mush...yeah they do dog sledding there.)
~~~~

Gina

Saturday, January 06, 2007

My New Profile Picture



(a.gina.picture)


My new blogger picture......I decided to leave baby Gina behind.....(the photo looked scary in the comments sections of some blogs..... a baby head commenting on world peace, sex, and noodles?) besides you'alllll want to see the puny white woman with the brave soul right?
~~~
Besides I was thinking positive and practicing a book jacket pose.....it's either this or the black and white fuzzy photo ....where the woman has her hand under her chin and is draped in one of those black sheets with her cleavage down to ...well the place where crumbs go..........hmmmm cleavage might not be appropriate for a children's book hey?.....okay....back to turtlenecks I guess.....

Gina.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Don't Worry Be Happy or..........


You Can Sleep When You're Dead

I hate when I do this.....but it can happen when you do a lot of work from home. I OVERSLEPT...big time.....I hit that little button on the alarm turned around and said to myself, "One more minute." At 10AM, I opened my eyes, groaned, and covered my head with the blanket. Bad Bad Girl.....and now Bad Bad Girl will have to work all evening to make up for it.
~~
With a huge cup of coffee (some of my mugs look like small pails), I sat down at my desk and pulled out the above calender. Holy Sheet! How can the first week of the New Year already be so filled up....(and don't be saying, "It's because you didn't finish you're work from last year." The thought did cross my mind.)
~~
I actually felt panicked. My manuscript due to the publisher next week and columns and columns of stuff needing to get done. Oh what's a Bad Girl to do? And then out of nowhere I remembered this story. A travel story....(my favorite kind of course...)
~~
When I was traveling Asia... or if you prefer....Once upon a time when I was in Asia.... I had a guide, Outai, who was a former Buddhist monk. He had the patience of an angel....or should I say a Buddhist Angel. We were traveling with a Dentist from California and his Ohh-so-pretty-blond-cutesy-social worker-wife who needed to have hours of prep time in the morning to "put on her face" and needed time during the day to "maintain her face." (I won't argue about her maintenance time ...trust me if you saw what the heat in Thailand did to lipstick, mascara and foundation by mid-afternoon... you would grant her this time too)
~~
She whined....no....correction.....she whined about never having enough time....time to put on her face, time to maintain her face....time to shop and time to do this or that... One particularly whiney day....she even got to Outai. She whined about something and he turned around and snapped...."Just do what you must do....You can sleep all you want when you're dead!"
~~
I can still see his dark eyes glaring at her for that long minute.......then he suddenly relaxed, smiled, his beautiful mahogany face once again a study in composure.
~~
So it's a do what you must do day.....and how's your calender looking for the new year already?
~~~~~
Hmmmmm........Do I hear Whining??????

There Is Rest In Heaven


I Hope So!
(a.gina.picture from cape cod.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Babel--Uncomfortable and Familiar


I knew I had to see this film...one of the story threads is about a tourist visiting Morocco who gets shot in the neck and her husband has to deal with the event in a remote area in Northern Africa. When I saw the promos....I recognized the land and the type of situation facing these characters.
~~
When I crossed Africa a few months back, I remember Alberto, our trip leader, strongly suggesting we do not injure ourselves in northern Niger as well as in the Tenere desert. It seems the Niger government didn't have helicopters for medical missions and because of political problems...air space regulations would prohibit outside/foreign helicopters from coming into the country. In other words, we would be 2-3 days out from any type of assistance that wasn't contained in the medical box we carried with us.
~~
Overall, although this movie was so much more complex than its African thread.....I was startled by how well the film captured the feeling of this part of Africa as well as the reactions of the tourists. I'm usually quiet at the movies....but I kept nudging my daughter and saying...."Oh...that's exactly how it would be with those tourists" and I wondered how the film maker could have known so much and captured so much in the screen play.
~~
I don't want to ruin the movie for you if you haven't seen it.....but the prejudice, fear, and self-centered-ness of some people from the "first world" meeting the "third world" was right on target. The tourists on the bus are so uneasy in the village they entered to get help for the wounded woman....they've been on their air-conditioned bus...safe and sound and looking out their windows...perfectly content to have an arm's length view of Africa and its people. Now...they have to interact with the villagers and they're uncomfortable and suspicious and totally self-absorbed. When the bus takes off leaving the wounded woman and her husband behind......I whispered to my daughter...."you know my group would have left someone behind too if they were ruining the itinerary." That's an awful sad commentary....on some people who travel the world.....but for some folks having your passport stamped and saying "I've been there" is more important than actually knowing where you have been and who was there.
~~
The reviews of the movie don't comment about the happy ending of this thread. Eventually, a U.S. helicopter goes into the village and air lifts the woman out to a medical center for help. The thing that struck me with this ending that you would normally cheer for....is how arrogant it is....you see this million-dollar helicopter swoop down on this poor village....everyone rushing to get the white woman out....everyone helping to get her safely into the helicopter....and I couldn't help feeling and saying to myself....why is she so important? Because she is white and American? How many people in that village have suffered and died from accidents and injuries ...and no one comes rushing in with even a donkey...
~~
I felt that..."Why-am-I- so-important question" when I was getting my immunizations for Africa. A shot here...a shot there....all to save me....Why do I matter in comparison to some Africans? Why must I be protected from things they normally face?.....It's a question I don't want to hear myself answer....because it involves $$ and status...and fate and luck of birth....and it's painful to face that truth.
~~
As I said, the film is so much more than this thread.....it's a heart-wrenching and complicated look at people misunderstanding and misjudging each other.....and as you weave together and figure out the movie (it's told in segments that you have to put together) your heart sinks at the reality of how our actions...even small ones ...can domino and affect so many people.... An amazing but difficult movie.......

Monday, January 01, 2007