Archive for August, 2011

Storm Memories

August 27, 2011

AJ over at Two Coasts got me reminiscing about the storms I’ve lived through. My memories, like hers, center around the aftermath, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I remember the excitement and thrills more than the destruction.

When I was six, I was living on Saipan during Super Typhoon Kim. The storm itself is a flash of memories; hiding a Garfield book under my shirt as we dashed across to our neighbor’s house, wind, hot cocoa, more wind, windows breaking.

Oh, but after! After is vienna sausages under candle light, and sterno haute cuisine for a month. After is giant uprooted trees, and roots that transform into pirate ships for imaginative little girls. After is a tin hut magically transported into the tip top of a tree. After is plentiful fresh coconut water, and heart of palm. After is a beach strewn with detritus and treasure.

But most of all, after is the heartbreak of wet books. I remember a tarp laid out behind the house, covered in sopping books. My job, and a very important one for a pretty useless little 6-year-old, was to rifle through each book periodically to ensure that the pages dried without sticking together.

There were so many favorites that we had to throw out. For years after, I’d find myself craving a particular Piers Anthony book, only to remember its fate. I saved so many other favorites, though. To this day, there’s a shelf of M.M. Kaye novels down in the family room that have the slightly swollen look of a book that’s seen hard times.

Island folk are a special breed. We have a reputation for being laid back and relaxed, but that’s just part of the story. When the storms come, there’s no evacuation route. You hunker down as well as you can, ride it out, and pull things back together after. You’re constantly reminded of your powerlessness, and you learn to just sit back and accept the good times and the bad.

If that isn’t a lesson I need to remember right now in my personal life, I don’t know what is.

All this has nothing to do with the lives and livelihoods that will be lost and that my heart aches for. But, hey, way to make it all about me, right? And I love storm parties! Wish I was there, East Coast!

And in all seriousness, my prayers are with you.

Practically Magical

August 14, 2011

Some days, I wonder why I love Practical Magic. Every other day of the year, I re-watch it and I wonder why anyone would fail to love it.

Yes, I am going to break my long blog silence by waxing lyrical about a Sandra Bullock movie. Suck it up, or look away now.

I watch this movie regularly, ever since it came it out. Which means I’ve probably seen it about a dozen times by now. And the little bastard still makes me cry, just about every dang time.

I used to blame it on my own strong relationship with my sisters, and my predilection for all things witchy and Halloweeny. Plus, Aidan Quinn. And Euro-Clooney. It’s hard to beat all that. Throw in Dianne Wiest, Stockard Channing, and a kick-ass nineties soundtrack, and yeah, of course it’s awesome.

Still, enough people have questioned my sanity on this (20% on Rotten Tomatoes; that’s lower than both Your Highness, SuckerPunchand every single one of the Final Destination movies) that I felt I had to examine my affection after watching it yet again tonight. I turned it on to fall asleep to… then it wouldn’t let me sleep.

I mean, come on. ——–>
Wait, what was I saying?

Oh yeah. So I deconstructed it. Not a feminist deconstruction, because that would probably make me a little ill, and pretty mad at myself for falling for it. Personal deconstruction, then, and plot deconstruction.

I took a closer look at the moments that whack me in the gut. It does, by the way, help if I’m really tired and a little bit emotionally unstable when I watch this movie. Invariably, these gut-punchers rotate around Sandra’s relationships. Her and Aidan’s first kiss. When he turns away, could it be forever? Oh, the pathos. A moment when she’s lying nose-to-nose with her sister, in tears. There are an awkwardly high number of those scenes in the movie, and yet they still get me.

What makes these moments satisfying? It’s not the writing. Or the direction. Or even the acting (I love you Sandra, but it’s not). It’s the completeness. The yin/yang of the circle coming together. Western lawman meets Eastern pagan woman. Sister of Chaos clasps hands with Sister of Order.

It’s a pretty darn satisfying plot device. It’s not the ‘unfinished chord’ that a certain awesome someone was talking about at RWA today, that lingering note that an author refuses to tie off simply in order to tantalize her audience. The story may not prey on your mind and captivate you (in fact, in this case, I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t), but it soothes. Like comfort food for the over-stimulated mind. Like eating a lunchables box for dinner, complete with the Caprisun Cooler. Apparently I needed soothing tonight.

I value the fact that I am a complete person, in and of myself. I’m kinda my own yin and yang; I used to describe myself as glitter lipgloss and steel-toe boots. I’ve always wanted another complete person as a partner; I never wanted anyone to ‘complete’ me. And I still don’t. I recognize real life from cunningly (if not expertly) crafted fiction.*

And yet, there are these tired, late night moments. It doesn’t help when I think about the wonderful couples around me. They all seem to be perfectly balanced complements to each other. Two of my best friends make a couple that I tend to refer to as the pocket vegans, or just ‘the girls,’ in a simple homogenizing way, even though they are actually as yin and yang as you get.

In the morning, these simplistic generalizations will be revealed for the complex realities they actually are. I’ll remember the fact that these couples share world outlooks and amazingly kind hearts, and other similarities that are much more important than their differences. But right now, I think I’ll go to sleep wondering about my yang.

Okay, that just sounds wrong. Strike that. Instead, I’ll leave on this lovely, Aidan-in-a-hammock-from-another-movie-I-hate-to-love note:

*totally, totally not talking about Hoffman’s book – just the movie.