Friday, December 28, 2007

Maison de Macabre - A Very Short Story

I am trying to better understand it, but the words escape me. So, maybe I should sing it to you. No? Then, perhaps I should close my eyes and dream it to you. That way, no detail gets left behind.

She danced for him, you know. She danced because she wanted to. Or, she danced because she had to. He would never allow any other action from her. She was too much of a goddess for anything menial.

I watched it all from my little corner of the house where no one would think to look. The family gave up on me many years ago, so I flutter from room to room, not caring what I do. They do not so why should I?

She danced so well last night, so much so that I wanted to reach out to her and tap her on the shoulder, giving her a moment of being spooked before realizing it was I who tapped her.

“Julien,” she would say in her usual tone towards me, “how many times have I told you to not scare me like that?” I would smile then flutter off, knowing that she would never trust me again.

But no, this time, she danced well. He stood there, hands tightly wrapped around a silver tipped cane, his black eyes watching her every move, looking for any slip up and finding none. He wanted her to fail simply to show that she was indeed human.

I knew better, however. I knew that she was more than just a dancer. She was his heart and my sister. She was his lover and my tutor. She was everything to him and nothing to me.

So, I watched. She danced. And soon, the house went black.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Margot at the Wedding


I just came from Studio on the Square, one of Memphis' movie theatres and one of two in the city that show foreign and indie movies, watching Margot at the Wedding, a new film with Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Jack Black.

Nicole Kidman plays Margot, a writer who obviously has problems (she thinks that everyone talks about her and she constantly insults those closest to her) who goes home to visit her sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is about to marry Malcolm (Jack Black), a man who has no direction, no goals in life but can dish out the best in depressing white male "the world is so against me" personality. It is obvious that the two sisters were close and yet not at the same time since the two insult and love each other within seconds. Some of the scenes were just too painful and raw to watch but it was those scenes that offer the viewers a good look into a family that might seem familiar; someone you know or even your own.

Margot constantly insults and praises her son Claude, a young man who is more mature than she gives him credit for and in the end, decides to send to him to Vermont to her husband whom she may or may not be divorcing so as to be with her lover.

After reading the reviews, I wanted to see this movie for myself and make my own judgments. Well, it appears that the reviews were right after all; this IS a very dark, dark comedy, filled with insults, taunts, and moments that will leave you speechless and feeling vulnerable and embarrassed for the characters as they struggle with their daily and moment by moment feelings of love and pain.

Honestly, I loved this movie. The director (who also directed The Squid and the Whale - another great movie) did an excellent job of portraying such raw feelings in people.

Yes, I am one of those liberal, trendy "I love indie movies and wear black all of the time" person. I make no apologies for what I like. Although I enjoy fluff and mindless action with lots of FX just like anyone else, I also enjoy movies that are thought provoking, dark and bleak, and too emotionally painful to watch. Margot at the Wedding is a dark gem in the rough.

Absinthe Dreams to you all. . . .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thought - 20 December 2007

As a person who was born in the South, I used to hate my birth area. I had thought that people from my region of the country were uneducated, religious zealots, and limited in their thinking capacity. I refused to consider myself as a Southerner and even took great pains and claims to inform everyone that I went to college up North. I wanted to talk like Northerners and even tried to absorb my father’s accent (he is from Massachusetts) when speaking to others. In doing so, I wanted people to know that I was an intelligent being who, after realizing that the South would never be on any stimulating intellectual level, wanted to make myself a child of the North / New England. However, after yesterday, my whole outlook changed. During my lunch, I walked down Main Street downtown to the post office, walking by the store for the Center for Southern Folklore. I had walked by that store for years with barely a passing interest for going in, but for some reason I wanted to yesterday. So, once I sent my paid books to their happy destinations, I walked across the street and into the store. Immediately, I was greeted by a young woman with white blonde hair seated behind the counter that had a sign boasting of good peach cobbler and ice cream. As I walked around, I noticed the many black and white photographs of different people from Memphis’ past, black and white, whose faces told of a different time, a happier time, a sadder time. I found myself staring at two photographs in particular: a young white woman from the 30s who stood next to a bale of cotton and two black women from the 40s who were in a beauty shop. My heart began to thump wildly as I walked around the store, noticing the pictures of long ago mingled with blues music pumping from the speakers all around. Artwork took up every corner of the store and even Elvis had a part to play in the d├ęcor. Food items of the South lingered on tables and small plates and books speaking of myths and legends of the South, the Blues, and famous Southerners, filled the shelves. Suddenly, a thought I had never had before crept into my mind: I felt proud to be a Southerner. There is no other place in the country that can speak of men selling their souls to the Devil in exchange for guitar lessons, or birthplaces of music heard around the world, or even food that will kill you while you are smiling. I walked out of the store, promising to return to purchase the two pictures, my heart leaping with joy and pride. Whether you hail home as cosmopolitan and fast paced Atlanta, jazzy and spicy New Orleans, soulful and yet tense Memphis, or laid back and genteel Savannah, be proud of your roots now and forever. I know I am, finally.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ian McEwan - Atonement

I am a fan of the British author, Ian McEwan. His novels and stories have always been prolific and dark, forever searching to the deepest core of humanity . . . and then some. When I was first introduced to his works, I did not like him at all: to me, he seemed too much for my brain to handle. My first attempt at his book Atonement made me cringe and swear never to read another one of his works. Months later, I discovered four used copies of his other works in a bookstore and so, being the bibliophile I am, grabbed them all in hopes of possibly rekindling a relationship with him. To this day, I still have those same copies of books. Amsterdam, the first shorter story I read, threw me for a loop and made me ravenous for his words. The door had been opened and the floods appeared. I read his other works with that same passion and found myself actually understanding his style which for me was a blessing. So it was at this point that I worked up the courage and nerve to try Atonement again.
From the first chapter to the very end, my eyes were locked to the pages. The fated triangle of Briony, Cecelia, and Robbie was unlike anything I had ever read before. When I closed the book, I felt I was still there, watching the story unfold like a play except it was reality.
When I heard that the book would be turned into a movie, I was overjoyed: here was the chance to see his words come alive on the screen. I waited patiently for the release date, hoping like hell Memphis would get the movie. When it came out in the US on December 14th, I checked the move listings and did not see it. I was crushed. I felt cheated and let down; Memphis is not NYC or Atlanta, but surely we were cultured enough to get such a movie.
That all changed this past Friday, when I learned that our art movie studio, Studio on the Square, did get it. I woke up Friday with horrible stomach pains but I was determined to watch it no matter what. I chewed several Tums, ate heartily, and worked all day with a smile on my face. The pain did leave but I was in such a good mood that I forgot when I actually began feeling better. 4:30 came and I raced home and began the countdown to when I would see it. When I arrived at Studio later that night, I actually went to the wrong theatre room, walking in on an earlier playing version of it. I quickly left, hiding my face in embarrassment, and found the right one.
From the opening credits to the end, I moved only once in my seat. I wanted to cry because here I was, watching Ian's work portrayed on the screen. It made me proud to be a writer (and published too!)
When it was over, I wanted to scream my joy to the world but I moved my excitement down to just a sigh.

For those of who you have not read the book, here is a breakdown: 1935 England. Cecelia Tallis is a young wealthy British woman who is in love with the groundskeeper's son, Robbie, an intelligent man destined to become something wonderful and great. Robbie is in love with her too but too shy to say anything so he decides to send a letter to her proclaiming his feelings for her. He gives the letter to Cecelia's younger sister, Briony, only to realize he sent the wrong letter; the letter he gave to Briony was actually a declaration of how much he wanted to kiss her cunt. Briony, intelligent but naive, reads the letter and begins a set of events that will cost the young lovers their lives as well as their love for one another.
That is the gist of the story and I will not tell any more of it.

Hats off to you, Ian.

Absinthe Dreams,


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Moment of Strength

So. It is 5:46 am and I am trying my best to check every internet profile Viridian Books has so as not to overlook anything and piss someone off. I do these things because they have given the bookstore extra and wider exposure. However, I still go to my other job, the one that pays my bills.

The one job I can not stand any longer.

Although I make jokes with my co-workers and do as best as I can with my work, I still dislike the atmosphere. People my age and younger getting pulled over for yet again other DUI or possession of drugs.

I want to spend my time, instead, writing and editing my stories, working on Viridian's site, and becoming the literary force I think I can be. No, wait. The Literary force I KNOW I can be. All it takes is one person, right?

This past weekend, however, I felt like giving up. That, somehow, I should not be doing this and for me to throw in the towel and assimilate into my MK job with no complaints. And yet, I know that is something I can never do.

My life needs to be involved with books, whether as a published writer, a librarian, or a bookseller, my life HAS to be surrounded by books and nothing else. My parents, well my mother, thinks this to all be a hobby but I need to keep MK because it means power and respect.

Get real.

Tomorrow, I have an interview with the main branch of the Memphis Public Library. Already, my mother's negativity has reduced the excitement somewhat but if I was meant to do this, then I will.

So, Viridian is still here, selling books and making new friends. I am still writing, hoping like hell no one will think I need to go to a mental home once my work is published. I am still happy. Now, if I can only get rid of MK then my stress level would be so much lower.

If any of you pray, tomorrow would be a good time to do it.

Absinthe Dreams.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Holiday Thought #1

We are called, as people of Earth, to be mindful of others no matter of their skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, background, monetary status, religious affiliation, or any other deciding factors. So, how is it that we turn to our cruelest emotions during the holiday seasons, a time of peace for all? Last night, as I stood in line in a drugstore, a man two people ahead of me angrily decided to question the cashier’s ringing up process, thinking that perhaps he had cheated him out of money. The cashier calmly showed him the receipt and explained to him why certain items rang up the way they did. Normally, I would have been foaming at the mouth with impatience but I remained calm. I was in great pain from my menstrual cycle and my arms hurt from holding all of my items but I still stood there calmly. Finally, the man walked away with no good-bye or even thank you to the cashier who looked slightly drained by the interaction. I moved further up the line, still calm and composed. When it was my turn, I gave the cashier one of my best smiles despite my pain and he smiled back in kind, ringing me up and even cracking a joke when the pen I used to sign my credit slip refused to work. When I walked out and into the cold night air, I felt better than ever. I am sure the cashier dreads the holiday season mainly for the rude customers who must go through his line every day but I wanted him to know that there were still people out there who thought differently. I am a mortal being, full of weakness and preconceived notions, but I want to still make a difference. I do my part not because I want to be popular and liked by everyone who makes eye contact with me, but rather because in this day and age of instant gratification, war in the Middle East, the god of materialism, and the chains of loneliness and depression, smiles and good thoughts STILL are still appreciated.

5 December 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Poetry - 3 December 2007

Sing to me, Oh Muse
Thou who hast given me life and breath to work,
Love, and play, to understand what it truly means
To be of colour and madness.
I want to be near you, woman of demon form,
To take me in your arms and kiss my chapped lips.
Let me feel you, be inside of you, hungry for nourishment
That only you can give to me –
Give me the right to see your face gaze away and up
Towards the stars that shine brightly like tears you brush away
From your eyes. This is no longer a dream
But a facet of my own existence, giving me a time
When I thought such desires were foolish and conceited.
I want to bury myself deep, blood rushing to my face
As I gasp for air but refusing it all the same.
I want you to love me, tease me and caress me.
Give me your blood so that I may paint
Give me your tongue so that I may write
Give me your soul so that I may dance in the groves planted by those
Who refused to see you until it was too late.
Die with me and live again so that I may know what it means to hurt.
Red, of violet tinged with dreams not shared
I rise from our bed, naked and reborn
Ready to greet the dawn, ready to face you once more,
My lips ready to nibble and kiss you, your back arching in response
As the warm flow begins, so I collect it in a chalice,
Forcing myself to drink your essence like a king racked with insanity
Of knowing who died before him.
My words are nothing before and will be nothing when you die
But for this moment, I ask you, do not let me die in vain.
Do not allow me to be like everyone else, for you know it to be a lie.
Do not allow this latest slave a chance at mortality.
I want what you have and soon it shall be mine
When the waters no longer flow but buckle and thrash
And the oceans turn read with blood I will spill for you.
Bitch maiden, mother, crone, and death
Thou hast seen my face and it is yours, yours, take me and deliver me
For my strings will soon be cut by Fate, triple of woman, she who is lost.
And all I can do is stand by and watch it burn away,
This longing,
This fear of dying well, fat, and normal, of grease made from pigs bathing in
Their own sweat, replacing the tears they lost to their children,
Circe, the woman, a maiden who cares not for what others think of her
So I shall be of you and through you,
My darling, my own instant.
A flower, prepared to whiter while the petals fall with a thud
My tongue tough and dry, awaiting your words to cool and soothe me
So it shall be done, so it shall be lost.
My eyes are red, puffy and sunken
Create a Picasso to true to be ignored.
And, of course, I shall ask of thee
To be my bride when I shall have nothing left.
My own flower, dipped in gold and weighed next to stones
Forgive me for the way I want to treat you.
In dying, so I understand, finally,
That I was not the only one
But rather the latest in a long line of sinners
Awaiting their own trial by a priest who has forgotten how to speak.
My own sentence shall be given, listening to the cries of the ones before me
My own chains, rotting my flesh while you stand by and watch. . . .and listen.
Perhaps, I think I should fall, slowly and gracefully
A discombobulating experience, an orgasm too real to be ignored
My body shaking with coughs, fits of a denial forever to me
And you, you who claim to love me, are alone too well.

10 August 2007