Wednesday, July 22

Ex Libris...

If I were very rich, I would build a really humongous badass library full of great books. I'll have every single book its own smug Ex Libris label: From the library of XXX, collector extraordinaire. But it's not very likely I'll be, so, I'd settle on getting them bit by bit, probably even second-hand. That was just me dreaming a tad late in the day. Anyways, these are the titles I'd like to get my hands on, pronto, in no particular order of importance or literary value:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series- Jeff Kinney
Witches of Eastwick
Widows of Eastwick- John Updike
HP 6 The Deathly Hallows- JK Rowling
The Mysterious Benedict Society- Trenton Lee Steward

I happened to watch this feature of JK Rowling in the Biography Channel one day, and was impressed about her rags to riches life story. Not one without its twists and turns, there was a point when she was living on her social security checks, she was suffering from depression after her first marriage crumbled, and was close to committing suicide. Yet, shy as she was, she was also an avid lover of literature and was able to channel all of her life experiences to create a story that now, without question, goes down in history. The first of Harry Potter series (The Philosopher's Stone a.k.a The Sorcerer's Stone) started out as an idea during a long train journey, and whose manuscript she typed on a very old typewriter. It was not a very smooth ride before she got published, but many already saw the big potential in her writing. From obscurity, she would soon rise to fame and become one of the best loved writers of children's books.

She said that Harry Potter is representative of her, although characters like Hermione Granger are also loosely based on her from when she was a younger. I suppose then horrid things like the Dementors need not be explained further. When she sold the rights of her first book to a movie outfit, it made her an instant millionaire. And it follows that she broke publishing records by selling milllions of copies of the rest of her seven books, the last installment of which she finished and published in 2007. It sold overwhelmingly, hotter than hotcakes, not only in the UK, but all over the world. Even the cheapskate that I am got five of her books and am now willing to cut a limb, if it would cost me that much, to have the two remaining books.

In the feature, A Year in the Life, the story revolves around JK Rowling working on the last of her HP books, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Snippets of her life are shown--- she hies off in a secret hotel room to slog on her manuscript, also a brief look at her house in Scotland, and a few miles away, her old tiny apartment (or what they call flat in the UK ). I am quite blown away at her real fortune----a castle-like home, great family and husband, and a very peaceful life. But it also showed a part of her tearing up at the recollection of her less than perfect childhood, and her life as a single mother. She visits her old flat in Edinburgh and looks back at a time when it (the HP idea) all started and where her life finally took a big turn. She largely remains a private person, and is often seen to be an aloof media personality. But she explains that the fame thing is something she still constantly struggles and is never comfortable with. Presently, she is someone who probably never has to worry about her finances for as long as she lives. But also because of that, she has focused a part of her fortune to philanthrophic causes, being an advocate in helping women and children cope with situations in single-parent homes. Great story, ain't it?

All that can be said though, why Harry Potter is such a hit, is that it simply made children (and even adults like us, admit it!) find love for reading anew. And on that alone, I think Joanne Rowling deserves whatever fortune has come her way.

Thursday, July 16

Don't Be Hatin'!

These past few days, I have been trying to analyze a person’s actuations---the long face, the sudden silence, a defiant silence that says “leave me alone, people”. It’s very easy to understand that, the wanting to be alone part, except that nobody knows where it’s coming from, and how unexpectedly. The awkward feeling is really unwarranted, especially in a place where only a handful of familiar faces deal with each other everyday. I mean, sure there are no catfights and open animosity to worry about. But pretending that everyone is collectively okay about it, for days going, while the other person marches in and about as if she’s on a global strike, well isn’t it easier to just join the picket line and boycott her the same way?
But I wouldn’t want to. I want to understand how the other person is feeling. Have we done anything wrong? Was it a slight? PMS maybe? Or just plain bad mood? Well, it’s easy to assume things, especially if the person is not so keen to keep her body language in check. So do I go up to her and talk about it? But how, when she suddenly storms out of the room at the first opportunity, avoiding everyone like a plague? I probably have had enough of this sour face that I’m really close to losing my top, and tempted to rant about it in the open. I guess I won’t.
Thank goodness for blogs where I can vent out all of these maddening thoughts, and yeah, expose my vulnerability in the process. But who cares. Isn’t this a better option, than ruminate a fight plan and eventually get myself into an epic verbal scuffle with a person? So, blogging is the answer. I promise, the moment I get over into my last sentence, I’ll feel better. I just needed to get this off my shoulders. I hope though that the bone of my contention realizes what an emotional aggravation this whole thing is to me, and to the rest of the clueless world….
It’s funny that as we grow older, the harder it becomes to open up and be forthright with our feelings towards other people. There are such things as a heart-to-heart talk, but I believe with people our age, it’s more of the head that does the dealing. Often, we hesitate to lay down all our cards, and only in a tiny moment of vulnerability will we reveal more of what’s inside us. But we would withdraw once again, with such alacrity, because it always seems imperative to be in control of the game and be poker-faced about it.
Children are different. They are brutal with truth, but once they say what’s in their hearts, there is no emotional baggage or excesses that’s carried over. They'll leave, move on with life lightly, and without apprehensions. It is only around their growing up years that they learn to fib and distort the truth. It’s a rite of passage, a milestone that sadly marks their entry into the corrupt world of adults.
If I were to be a child again this very moment—blunt and honest--- all I can say about this whole commotion is:
It’s just jealousy, honey.
Get over it.
And don’t be hatin’!

Monday, July 13

Mourning for Michael

Can you sincerely cry over the death of someone you do not personally know? Can emotions really be evoked in you, seemingly out of nowhere, when you learn of a person who unexpectely crossed to the other side? If it was someone who had an imperfect past, was caught in moral crossfires, was famous in different but opposing contexts, who only sang and danced his heart out and did many wonderful things, but has faced eternal public persecution for the things he may have not, would you have the same level of sympathy for him , like you would for a person related to you by blood?

As one who has invariably professed sadness and trepidation over the passing of people she knows and loves, I think my only true emotions of sadness lie in the fact that the sudden demise of a person, regardless of who he was, would affect the people he left behind, in a way that will leave them painfully empty and out of touch from anything real for a while, numb to say the least, until they are able to allow proper emotions to well up in them, and make them come to terms with what had happened.

Much like the millions of others, I was shocked with the news of Michael Jackson’s death. When the memorial for him aired live on CNN, my husband and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning. I believe I cried a bucket, going through similar emotions that gripped the millions of people who watched the proceedings that day (or night from my side of the globe). But I cried, also because a lot of things were stoked up in me. It wasn’t until much later that I found myself really thinking about his death, unconsciously rummaging for explanations that baffle my ordinary mind, and what it was that got me involved in this sort of emotional upheaval that had every other man talking about, both in public and in private.

I think it is because I am a mother like Katherine (Jackson), a parent who derives intense pleasure in knowing that my children are safe in my arms and that this shocking loss is something I have not prepared myself for. Also, I am a daughter (like Michael’s children), who do not know what to make of my parent’s passing, at a time when I least expected it, because there was so much promise of tomorrow, of the years that we could share together, of the experiences that would imprint in me emotionally, as I slip into adulthood, but was suddenly cut short because the one person I leaned on to isn’t there anymore.

The death of Michael Jackson has brought out a flood of differing opinions from people of all walks of life--people who feel they are authorities to his life, people who wax philosophical about what he really was and why he was what he was, and people who are quick to dismiss his death with ridicule and contempt, because they say so. Sadly, in life and in death, Michael Jackson had to suffer for his art....

I have no useful opinion of Michael Jackson’s history and life, or the intricacies of it, as I believe I am one of those segment of society who prefer to stay in the periphery of things, whose social mediocrity and lack of strong estimation of who he was is eclipsed only by my simple appreciation of his music, the music which lulled and still lulls my heart and fences it within, every time Childhood plays, the groove
I get into with the infectious beat of Billy Jean, the awe I hold in the majestic simplicity of his moonwalk, and many things else that encompass what I know of him, as an artist---not the distortion of a persona who wore surgical masks and who was believed to sleep in a hyperbaric chamber, or was an extra-terrestrial. He could have been a wasp in another dimension, for all I care.

I won’t even allow myself now to use the word “iconic”, which begs yet another question as to why in spite of many choosing him an icon, someone who is supposed to rise out and above the din of society’s woes and frailties, many others still found pleasure in ripping him apart and depriving him of basic human respect.I am tempted to say, leave him alone, now that he is gone, as his brothers begged---but I think people would not yet relent, not until they probably prove themselves right. Not until they have torn up every shred of his poor soul. At least, not for a while.

Because of his music, I only saw Michael Jackson as a distant star, an idiot like Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky’s book, who was the quintessence of both humility and greatness. His naive belief that people would appreciate and love him, simply for himself and his music, had instead come down to earth to suffer, without reason, a taste of human bigotry in all its ridiculous proportions, throughout the major part of his creative life. It’s a Michael who wanted to do good and positive things, but was thrown in the pits of derision and isolation, because of the fallacy that surrounded him, fallacies that rose out of prejudice in human eyes, eyes that claimed they knew good from evil.

My heart rains for his soul...
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