Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I just got done watching "Frida"- the movie Salma Hayek made about the life of Frida Kahlo ( one of my favorite artists ever). I remember seeing it my first two weeks in Los Angeles. I remember it well because it was Thanksgiving day, and I knew no one except Jeannie, who was going with Irv to dine at his then-big-wig-boss' house. I figured I'd be okay, I'd find somewhere nice to eat and then go to a movie. I don't like big family shindigs anyway, since they are often fraught with drama and bordem, intermittently, so I felt I was getting off pretty easy. And I've made a habit out of cutting out early on holidays and going to the movies for years, since it's a good day to go. Less crowds. Nice quiet. You know, good viewing conditions.

I could not have been more wrong. I didn't factor in how freaked out I would be when I got here- I just figured it was going to be one more thing that Jessica could handle, one more obstacle to face. But it was very different from that- it was like landing in a foreign country, hostile to newcomers, and all my careful preparation didn't matter a bit. The experience of adjustment was not what I expected, at all. But that was all detailed in another blog, long ago and far away....
So I tried to find decent food, only to discover that there wasn't any to be had. Not like I was looking for. I ended up eating a sad, kinda crappy open-faced turkey sandwich with gravy at House of Pies in Los Feliz ( they DID have pie, thank god!). Down the street was this little indie movie theatre, a hop and a skip from Fred's 62 ( an excellent place to eat, but not on Thanksgiving, apparently!). I had wanted to see "Frida" because not only is she one of my favorite artists, the movie was directed by Julie Taymor, the theatrical mastermind behind such visually stunning shows as "The Lion King". I figured if anyone knew how to handle a movie about an artist like Frida, it would be her.

I don't know what it was at the time; maybe my sad and homesick mood, or maybe my preconceived ideas about the movie itself, but I remember being disappointed and even bluer coming out of it than I had been coming in. I left and went home and cried.

Over time, though, I've found that images from the movie have stuck with me, and that's usually a sign that I'm still pondering it on some level, that it had enough resonance to be at least worthwhile as a film even if I didn't like it. Lately, I'd actually been thinking about this scene where Frida, at about 15, is in a horrific train crash that leaves her spine and pelvis impaled with a steel rod, comprimising her health and mobility forever after. ( It's notable, though, that during her days bedridden in a body cast, she learns to pass her time by painting thus creating her own future out of tragedy).
The whole scene is shot in slow motion, and I can't really describe it in detail, as that would take too long. But right before the train crashes into the side of a building, Frida is playing with some gold leaf a painter had been showing her, in a paper cone. A brilliant blue finch flies into the leaf, leaving its wings and feathers tinted with the gold, and as Frida looks up to see why the bird is out of its cage, it's then she sees that the train is crashing. It does so, leaving her bloody and trapped on its floor, gold leaf falling down around her like ash.

I had been thinking about that bird. That image. What a brilliant way to show that part of the story, and then I woke up today and found the movie on IFC, inexplicably. So I watched it again, and wow. It's funny how different a film can catch you at different times in your life. This time I loved it. Thought it perfect in every way. And I bemoaned the fact it was passed over at that year's Oscars, when it was so superior to almost everything there. I remember it was just after we'd invaded Iraq, so there wasn't this big red carpet, and I remember "The Hours" winning all these awards, when THAT movie just blew from the get-go. And I remember Salma looking like she might cry when she lost the few awards it was up for.
I later read that it took her 8 years to get that picture made. And when she was on "Inside the Actor's Studio" not so long ago, James Lipton asked her what she would have done with the Oscar had she gotten it. She teared up again and said she would have taken it to The Blue House ( Frida's home, which is painted blue and is now a museum) , in Mexico, and left it there for her.

Well, after watching it tonight, I just wanted to cry along with her. It's too bad. But I hope she rests easy knowing she did a wonderful tribute to this artist's life, and did her work justice, and did something SHE herself can be proud of for the rest of her life. If she does nothing else as an actress, she can know she made that movie, and sleep soundly, in my opinion.

I don't know why I'm going on about this. I guess with the onslaught of "summer movies" in full go mode, I just get a bit irritated at what actually gets made and what doesn't. A movie like this one takes 8 YEARS to get made and then a movie like "Superman" or "Little Man" or "My Super Ex-Girlfriend" is churned out in matter of rhetorical minutes. Who fucking decided that? Someone out there is writing the next "Good Will Hunting" and what's getting pushed through the studios as a priority? "Garfield 2". Oh yeah. We could not have lived without "Garfield 2".
And note, when a movie like "Good Will Hunting" gets made, everyone on the planet suddenly says, "Oh, I was behind that from the get-go, " and tries to take responsibility for its success in order to further their own career. ( I 'm not lobbying here for "Good Will Hunting" or anything BTW - even though it's a great movie- it's just a good example of How Things Work Around Here. I use it as an example of that in conversation all the time.)

At any rate, I could go on and on forever- and I often do!- with this kind of ranting, but I'll cut it short this time. Why? Because I have other, even more surreal news than even Frida's paintings.

I think I met a boy. Well, he's 40, so technically, he's a man. And man he is, not a boy at all.

His name is Anthony, and he's brilliant and well read. He loves art and music and film, and is obsessive about them all as I am. He's handsome and sexy as hell, and he's both strong and gentle in the same breath. We've been talking for almost a month now, and it's never boring or dull. In fact, at times, it gets quite heated and even debate worthy. Not a dull moment. He's just so great.

He's also in a Global Hotspot Not To Be Named Here, working for the US State Department. Since this is a public blog, I'd rather not go into details about what he does, but let's just say if you're in Said Hotspot, you want him watching your back.
I met him on MySpace, my most loathed of stupid internet clique-boards, believe it or not. He wrote me after seeing my profile. And since then, it's been a flurry of emails, 4 or 5 a day, talking about everything, anything, in all manner of ways.

I adore him. He adores me. It's this strange kismet of a connection we have, wandering into each other like we did, and somehow, having an innate understanding of each other. I get what he does because I grew up in a family of people in the military, or working for para-military organizations. He's an artist too, so he gets how hard it is to live this life ( he did for awhile here before he got offered this job, and he took it because the pay is not to be believed).

And he won't be home for another two weeks. He'll be home for a month, then back in Hotspot for another 3. Then home in December, and then if he should choose, off to some other Dangerous Place ( he was thinking about Darfur, but I about threw a holy-rolling fit. I told him I can take him going damned near anywhere else other than a country in the middle of a brutal, bloody 15-year-long genocide where guerilla warfare and butchering people in the middle of the jungle is part of the day-to-day. That's just a whole other level of risk I can't see taking, when he could go a million other rotten-yet-slightly-less-terrifying places. Sad that you have to weigh it all like that, but you do. I don't know if I've convinced him of anything, but I do know he's rethinking it....).

When he gets home, I get to meet him in person, to see if this man I've slowly been falling for over the internet is indeed the man I've made him out to be. I'm excited to see, but I'm also so pricklingly aware of all of the pitfalls.

Internet dating is so fucked up, it's hard to even begin HOW. First of all, it's just fraught with projection and fantasy, since the person isn't really in front of you. Quite easy to assign them qualities they don't have, in the good and the bad column. You invest so much of yourself and your heart into it, and what do you know? You know what they write, and if you're lucky, you know what they look like ( I've been that lucky so far) and then it's all a mystery. In the beginning of any relationship we emphasize the positives as greatly outweighing he negatives anyway, punctuating what we want or need to hear. In this format, it's exceptionally easy to do so to an almost ridiculous extent.

Then there's the email thing: it's hard sometimes, without tone or non-verbals to fully communicate complex things. WE've already had two major misunderstandings, all based on that very fact. It's hard to overcome this condition even when you have a 3-D reality of that person to hang your memory on, a "sense" of them from having met them in person. Without it, it's unbelievably difficult to mediate.

Plus, there's just simple things. He looks good to me, he sounds good to me. But will there be chemistry in person? That's a complicated thing, you know. Phermones and scent and all sorts of primal things come into play. I had a whole conversation with Sassy about that recently, and she told me there's been studies on this very thing done. And I know it to be true: I've loved people, and really wanted things to be "right" between us, but they didn't smell "right" to me ( I know it sounds crazy, but it has nothing to do with soap or cologne, it has to do with skin and sweat and pre-verbal brain function, I swear). And I tried and tried, and still, those relationships failed.

I could go on and on: what if he picks his teeth? Is a slob? My cats hate him? Is mean to waitresses? Drives like a maniac? Makes his "moves" on me a little too fast and a little too "ick" ? So many things go into making something hit it off between two people, it's a wonder they ever do.

And I've been going crazy thinking about all this, while we're engaged in cyber-courtship, albeit of the most sweet and erotic kind. But I gotta tell ya, it's like this giant build up for a FIRST date. I'm patiently trying to guide myself through all that, and trying to get used to the oddity of this situation, and trying to t comfortable as I can with the risk I'm taking by doing this all so strangely. I DO think it's worth it, or else I wouldn't be doing it. I have long since outgrown my need to invite painful protracted drama into my life for its own sake, since it seems to show up on its own.

Still, it's hard; I won't lie. Believe it or not I'm a cautious and sort of fragile person by nature when it comes to these types of things. I see that bird fly by with gold on its wings and I hope that while I'm taken with its marvelous wonder, that the train isn't crashing into the side of a building. I try and pry my eyes away long enough from such amazing beauty to look behind me and see that the vehicle is not slamming into bricks, to make sure my legs are stable on the floor. I'm doing that now, and it's hard and scary and so, so big for me to take even the risk. Oh, but look at that bird. Look at that bird.

Wish me luck. I will report, as I know you expect it, all details pertinent and as neccessary......