Sunday, December 20, 2009

Semi-rhetorical questions about the Twilight franchise.

So I'm pretty much indifferent to the whole Twilight phenomenon. I mean, it definitely gets on my nerves, but I don't especially care about it. I've never read any of the books or seen any of the movies, and I just generally attempt to ignore its existence.

A sidebar, though: The other night I had a dream that I went on a date with Edward Cullen/Robert Pattinson (he was a sort of hybrid of the character and the actor, if that makes any sense.) He went to my high school for some reason, and asked me out in the middle of class, to which my reaction was at first WTF-ery and then shrugging acceptance. This all happened in my home town, and yet I saw a Smith professor while I was waiting for our date, who was very enthusiastic about the whole thing, which was kind of weird even in the context of the dream. In any case, we had a picnic for our date and it was all quite pleasant, until I had a bloody nose and his immediate reaction was OMG CAN I EAT IT?!?!?! I was a little surprised, but allowed it. I didn't want it to go to waste, anyway. Perfectly good blood, and all.

Anyway: Twilight. I have some serious questions.

- Why is it that no one ever thinks it's maybe a bit shady that this is a group of "adopted siblings," and yet they're all coupled off? Like...they're brothers and sisters, and yet dating? Are there no eyebrows raised about that? Or the fact that their non-biological parents are, like, in their 30s? And collecting teenagers and only teenagers to turn into vampires? Just seems a bit...well, shady, to me.
- Speaking of which, are there serious orgies going on in that house? Because, seriously, they're a bunch of wildly attractive, eternally youthful teenagers who have no threat of pregnancy hanging over them. If at least some of them aren't sleeping together, I would seriously question their hormone levels.
- This is a slightly more general question, but why don't vampires, in this modern day and age, just, like, rob blood banks? I mean, that probably has less of an erotic/possessive thrill than biting someone, but if you're the sort of vampire who's all AHH I DON'T WANT TO BITE PEOPLE HUMANS ARE FRIEND NOT FOOD ANGST ANGST, wouldn't that seem like a more natural solution? Or I'm sure they could find a whole posse of morbid goth girls to help them out by donating some of their blood once in a while. Hell, I'd donate a vial of my O-neg if it would keep vampire murders down, or prevent them from eyeing their classmates like they're a pound of raw sirloin. For the good of the world, right?
- My biggest question, really - how the hell is it that no one gets suspicious of these teenagers being ETERNALLY YOUTHFUL? I mean, do they relocate every couple of years? (This may have been explained in the books, I dunno.) And if they don't, how fucking stupid must the locals be that they don't think there's something weird about these eternal high schoolers?
- Speaking of which: eternal high schoolers? For fucking serious? Holy shit, I'd have been begging for someone to stake me decades ago if that was my fate.
I also think that the way Edward behaves, what with the mind-reading and the stalking and the watching while the girl sleeps, is creepy as hell, but that's more of an observation than a question - well, other than "WTF is she thinking?" And, well, she's a teenage girl. I can say that we're not exactly known for our rational, wise decisions all the time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some awesomeness, academic and otherwise.

So, I should be writing (several!) papers right now, but I want to write about this and it might actually HELP stimulate ideas for this particular paper (we quite literally have no topic. I mean, seriously.) Trying to get the brain going. It's a bit more sluggish than usual these days. I blame the internet. And my unhealthy eating and sleeping habits. Oh, and my body, of course. It's always easy to pin the blame on one's body, especially one that is structurally unsound as mine. I think God was a little drunk that day.

(Defense mechanism back in full swing, what up.)

What I actually want to talk about right now is Chekhov. I have a serious thing for Russian writers, Tolstoy in particular (Anna Karenina is one of my favorite books, ever, for both the gorgeous language and the total trashiness that abounds through parts of it.) I've read two different translations of the book, the second of which is by my favorite! translating! team! ever!, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (whose names I know by heart because I am such a fucking nerd). My mom got me a copy of War and Peace for Christmas a couple of years ago, to which I geeked out and said, "Oh! Those are my favorite translators!" Those two also happen to be a married couple. Can you imagine the fucking awesome life they have? Cutest ever, for real.

Anyway, we're reading Chekhov in my 19th century story class - for which I am grateful, since I haven't liked much of anything we read in that class since Poe. (Oh, Poe!) Because Chekhov is great - not to mention that the book is translated by my favorite translating team. I love him for things like this, in "The Lady With the Little Dog," which I had read previously in a "love stories" anthology that I got in preparation for my own short story work, and which is way, way more depressing to read than it sounds:

"Anna Sergeevna came in. She sat in the third row, and when Gurov looked at her, his heart was wrung, and he realized clearly that there was no person closer, dearer, or more important for him in the whole world; this small woman, lost in the provincial crowd, not remarkable for anything, with a vulgar lorgnette in her hand, now filled his whole life, was his grief, his joy, the only happiness he now wished for himself; and to the sounds of the bad orchestra, with its trashy local violins, he thought of how beautiful she was. He thought and dreamed."

I mean, that shit is beautiful. There's something about the recognition of the utter ordinariness (which the story keeps getting you back to over and over again), seeing the flaws all around him and yet adoring her anyway, that I find so much more moving than a strictly idealistic or epic love. I don't know, all the people with whom I've ever fallen in love have had such obvious flaws of which I was always aware, and I think recognizing what is exceptional about a person as well as what is perfectly ordinary is just a really powerful thing. Whenever literature captures that I think that can be really beautiful. I also love that this story is never really resolved, and that things don't end really well or badly for these two - their lives just go on, and you know that they will with or without one another, but more rich for the time they've had together.

Similarly, I love this Shakespeare sonnet:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Beautiful. Kind of funny, also, and not exactly glowingly complimentary, but it's rather wonderful nevertheless. It was also used to delightfully sappy purpose in My So-Called Life:

Which is an awesome show, and also a perfect segue for me to talk about Claire Danes!

(Queen Eadie for the win!) I wish she'd go back to the red hair, though. Alas.

Truly, though, I love this girl. She manages to be Hollywood-level beautiful while maintaining a completely believable level of gawky awkwardness. I watched Shopgirl with Shannon last night (for a Film Studies paper, which ugh, I should be writing right now), and I was reminded once again of how wonderful she is. She has one of those faces that you can't take your eyes off of when she's on screen, and there's something about the way she acts that feels so effortless to me - like she perfectly inhabits the body of the character she's playing, and she says so much more with the way she moves and laughs and moves her eyes than she does with actual speech.

(I was utterly enamored with Scarlett Johansson for that same ability a few years ago, but she's decided to rest on simply being hot, which makes me sad. In any case, she was so much hotter back when she wasn't trying so hard!)

But now she's all Hollywood and bombshell and sanitized and perfect. Boo! Another before-and-after (and this is getting waaay tangential, but whatever), that also runs parallel to taking actual good roles and demonstrating lots of acting ability: Christina Ricci, before she got all skinny and "perfect":

(LOVE that movie, by the way.)

And now, for a contrast:

Not that she isn't still beautiful, but...come back to the light, Christina! Be sexy and curvy and weird again!

Well, that's way more than enough for now. Sayonara, for now.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sometimes I can smell the hospital smell. I don't know why...certain kinds of sanitizer, I guess, or the clothes that I'm wearing, the combination of the fabric smell and whatever detergent I've been using, or psychological assocations. I could smell it a minute ago, and it gave me the shivers. Not the good ones. I hate hospitals and I've spent much more time in them than people should have to. Most of the time before I was even six years old, so I don't remember much, but it's still in there. Along with the two seizures I had as a three-month-old, I had constant respiratory infections as a kid. Croup, pneumonia, bronchitis. It was hardest on my brother, I think. My parents were old enough to understand and I was too young to understand, but he was just the right (wrong?) age for it to be kind of traumatic. He's much more squeamish about hospitals than I am, actually.

And, you know, I try to joke around about the health stuff because it makes it easier (humor is my primary defense mechanism about everything, anyway), and it's the best way to deal with it, and it puts other people at ease at the same time, which then makes me feel a little better. But I do get scared sometimes. I know that the psychogenic explanation for my seizures is the most likely one at this point, but it's not the only thing that's wrong with my body. I have constant aches and pains and fatigues and it's gotten so much worse in the last couple of years. My energy level has decreased so much. I can't live the same way I used to. I need to rest so much more often. I'm more sensitive to temperature and my joints ache all the time. I'm always dizzy and my stomach is always getting fucked up (it always has, but that's been getting worse, too.) And, you know, all this plus the seizures...I am just not convinced that the answers have been found yet. And I hate admitting it, really I do, but it does get seriously scary sometimes. Like when I couldn't see for two hours after my last one. And having the history of such an utter lack of fucking compassion with the way people dealt with it in high school - it all makes it harder to deal with now because of that in my past.

And, you know, fuck. I miss someone from the past today, really badly. I have been lately, in general, but it's worse today. Our relationship was never a healthy one and I know, intellectually, that it's probably better off for me to be apart from him. We both brought out things in one another that we probably shouldn't have been pulling out. Some things need to stay underneath, sometimes. But, God, I had never felt more extraordinary or creative or utterly understood. There was soulmate - fucking soulmate! - potential there and sometimes I really thought he had been created for me and me for him. And I don't go for shit like that. But he made me believe it, or at least want to.

I remember when I used to go to dark places just to devastate myself, just so that I could have him comforting me. I needed him all the time, not just when I was breaking down, but every day, on my ordinary everyday levels of misery, but I couldn't tell him that because I was too afraid of losing what little I had. Our relationship had already utterly fallen apart once by that point, and I couldn't lose him so completely again by pushing it too hard, getting too intense. So I let myself crumble just so that I could have him put me back together again. One of the most fucked-up, self-destructive things I've ever done. I'm lucky I didn't push it farther than I did.

And yet right now I'm feeling like I want to do it again, like I would if he were here. Push it again. Is that even love? I don't know what it is, how it qualifies, but I know that I want him in my life again, as ill-advised as that probably is. We were so perfect for each other and so terrible for each other at the same time. I have never needed anybody so much, nor ever felt so needed, but maybe that's not something I should keep pushing for. Like I said, is that even love? It's a pretty fucked up love if it is, but right now I kind of wouldn't have it any other way.

Whatever it is, I want it back. Whatever he is, I want him back.