Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Biannual Existential Crisis

So I went back in time last week. I drank Jack Daniels and watched the remake of Evil Dead.

I got home from the theatre before midnight. My mother and her boyfriend were out at a friend’s house for dinner and weren’t home yet.

I still live in the same house I was born in. Twenty-three years last week.

I was tipsy and not ready to crawl into bed all alone. My horoscope said that today (Saturday) was supposed to put my life onto a new trajectory and so far it hadn’t been fulfilled. Perhaps that was what propelled me to change into hiking pants and my raincoat and venture out into my suburban neighbourhood in the middle of the night. I had not completed my destiny for the day and I like to check things off my to-do list.

Actually, that’s how Starbucks hooked me into their points scheme. One more purchase and I’ll have a Gold Card. I like to achieve goals.

I’m an over-achiever.

So I find myself walking into the night with my iPhone, keys to the house, and a Fudgesicle (yes, a chocolaty popsicle). It’s raining and dark, and I’m hoping to have some kind of epiphany before the album I’m listening to finishes.

Private music should be illegal. Wasn’t there a time when you could only listen to music in a crowd? When I put on my headphones, all of a sudden the world revolves around only me and I get cocky as fuck, self-absorbed, and emotional.

I am walking around my elementary school and I remember how I had my heart broken by my Internet lover at fifteen. I had put on my running shoes on a dark and rainy night like this and after running for ten minutes I sat down on the swings and cried my heart out. I knew I had to break up with this boy because he treated me like garbage and made me so insecure I still feel the repercussions now, twelve years later.

I finish my Fudgesicle and toss the stick into the grass. It’s biodegradable I’m sure. Only problem is that it’s not a diet Fudgesicle… I’m used to eating these 40 calorie things and my mom accidentally bought the full-180 calorie version.

Well, we can’t waste food or else children in Africa will die. So I eat the extra calories and tell myself I’m burning it off by being outside.

I’m at the gravel field where the majority of my memories of being bullied as a child occur. Being human is a ridiculous thing, isn’t it? On the far end of the school I see a guy who looks like someone I used to go to school with. He stands by himself in front of a classroom; the ground is littered with beer cans.

At ten years old I was given a large (one-meter) blow-up ball for my birthday. I took it to school to show off and try to make friends. The girls who had been bullying me offered to play with me and kicked the ball out-of-bounds on purpose. They told me to go get it, but when I got back onto the school grounds I found the girls with a duty-aid (an adult supervisor) waiting for me. I was sent to the principal’s office for breaking the rules and my ball popped soon after.

However, the day I arrived at school with homemade stilts nobody bothered me.

At the far end of the field, I remember that we had this thing called the Kilometer Club. Student’s were encouraged to get fit by running around the field, and every four laps we would get a popsicle stick which said we had run a kilometer.

I pull out my iPhone and open my Jog Log app. I start the app and begin walking around the field. I didn’t quite believe that four laps around this mini-field was actually a kilometer.

Three-quarters through the first lap I find a small air-filled ball. I reach down and push on it… it’s flat. Still, I kick it and it goes rolling to the other end of the field. I chase after it and kick it around another two laps.

I lose the ball somewhere in the dark corner by the goal posts. I complete my 4th lap and my iPhone tells me I walked 0.92 Kilometers.

Not quite a Kilometer then.

Am I having an existential crisis again? I thought I went through this 6 months ago… It seems I have to go through this on a biannual basis.

I smile as I remember my last epiphany.

I was in South Africa and reminded myself how I was just a mass of atoms, floating around aimlessly and not actually separated from the rest of the world. I had finished a depressing book about The Emergency in India and couldn’t shake the blues. I went for a run and found myself staring at a pod of Southern Wright Whales frolicking at Muizenberg beach. I thought, “why do I have to be a human being? Why can’t I just go play with those whales and not worry about anything but food and predators?”

Then I remembered high school science class. The whales are a bunch of atoms, the water is another bunch of atoms, and the air and my body are other bunches of atoms. There is nothing disconnecting me from nature and the universe except my own stupidity.

“Being human is a ridiculous thing, isn’t it? “

I tweet this, and then I post it on Facebook too because I want to make sure everyone knows I’m having deep thoughts.

I walk through the trails connecting cul-de-sacs with forest and more cul-de-sacs. I go through a path I had never tried before because I never had time to explore it. Turns out that it connects to a road I was familiar with, and is actually a short cut that I had missed for twenty-three years.

The trail is a loop and I end up back at the playground where I cried when I was fifteen… and many times before that I’m sure.

There is a hill where all the students used to toboggan when we were lucky enough to have snow. I lie down on the wet grass and find that I only have three songs left on the album.

The water soaks through my pants and I lie and squint at the purple sky, my vision ringed with the tops of pine trees. I open my mouth and try to catch the rain on my tongue.

It seems to fall everywhere on my face except for my tongue. I stick my tongue out further.

The music fades, and I imagine what it might be like if some kids came up onto the hill and found me lying there, splayed out like a dead person with their tongue sticking out.

I’m too good-looking to be doing weird shit like this.

I stand up and start to walk home. I’m feeling alone and dejected, but I’ve had some sort of catharsis. I look at the other end of the park and the guy with the beer cans is gone. A group of teens walk up the path and are overtaken by some late-night jogger in neon shorts.

Just as I reach the gates to my housing community, I see my mother’s boyfriend’s car pull up. What are the chances of that? Here I am, moping around in the rain like some loner and I can’t even get the peace and quiet of an empty house?

The car window rolls down and I hear my mom asking if I have a key. I open the gate and they drive in.

So it doesn’t even matter how much I want to be alone in this world. No matter what I do, I’m connected. A mass of atoms connected with another mass of atoms.

The only thing keeping me from the rest of the world is my own stupidity.

412_assorted_wood_popsicle_sticks_1000pcs_1

Bad Girl

The following short story is based on a reality that many teen girls I know have dealt with.Stealing

Ah, the rush of adrenaline running through her veins!

She swaggers through the aisles of the drugstore next to her high school in between exams with a bag of books, taking handfuls of lipgloss off the shelf and dropping them silently between the binders marked “Science 8” and “English 8”.

She doesn’t even look at the colours but moves on to the next section and grabs a compact powder and tosses it in among the rest.

Her friends follow behind her at a distance, snickering and blocking the view of the oblivious staff behind the makeup counter.

Georgia had developed a cockiness with her stealing since she started going to the mall with her friends on their lunch breaks and coming back to class with a haul of stolen goods. “It isn’t that bad because it’s not like I’m taking something personal. Corporations can afford the loss,” she thought as she pulled  her jeans over 6 new thongs in the Winners changing room.

She digs in the pockets of a pair of khakis, still on the hanger, and finds one more thong with the tag on it. She takes the tag of and puts the thong in her pocket. She walks out and gives the pants and the plastic sign that says, “1 item” to the change room attendant.

Back at home after her final exam, Georgia locks herself in her room with a roll of toilet paper and tries on all the new shades of lipgloss she bought. Pink, Mauve, Purple, Brown, Gold. There is a rainbow pile of toilet paper kisses on the floor when she is finished.

She takes a small suitcase out from under her bed and opens it. There is a mountain of makeup inside and Georgia dumps the ugly colours inside of it.

She takes off her pants and thongs and shoves 7 new pairs of underwear into her overflowing underwear drawer.

She lies down on her bed and falls asleep with the rest of her clothes on. She dreams about getting into Hogwarts and turning down Harry Potter when he asks her out on a date until she wakes up at 1 p.m. the next day.

~

Georgia is running. Running as fast as she can in a pair of pink flip flop sandals. She’s at the mall again and her best friend Danielle watches her dodge a mother with a stroller. Danielle has been stuck with an oversized shopping bag full of clothes. She pulls out her cellphone and calls her mom.

“Hey mom, Georgia and I are finished. Can you come pick me up?”

Georgia curses her luck as she runs out the front doors only to find she’s still being pursued by the most athletic security guard she’s ever seen.

A portly security guard sits across from Georgia in an underground parking lot office.

“If you had run away from me, I wouldn’t have bothered!”

She is still catching her breath when the guard who chased her comes out from behind the plexiglass booth to inform her that the police have been called.

“I would have just called your parents. Now you’ve resisted arrest and you’ll get a criminal record. I hope you weren’t planning on leaving the country anytime soon.”

Georgia’s throat constricts until it aches. She fights back tears as she thinks about her mother and stepfather shaking their heads in disappointment while they get on a flight to Mexico, leaving her behind.

The portly security guard asks, “Are you sure you can’t reach your parents?”

“They’re both working,” Georgia chokes back.

The guard who chased her, softens a little at the sound of her voice.

“What does your father do?”

“He actually works in the towers next door. He’s a security guard there.”

The portly security guard leans forward.

“Why don’t we just try calling his cell. If he picks up and can come down here we’ll call off the police.”

~

A female security guard enters the room with a rough looking young man.

“Fake bills, we’re going to do a test,” she barks and they pass through to the back room.

Georgia’s father turns back to look at his daughter, sitting in her pink flip flops and matching pink cheeks.

The athletic guard breaks the silence.

“I’m actually pretty impressed. She ran really well despite her shoes. Nearly knocked over a woman and her stroller, but I run triathlons and she kept ahead of me for quite some time before she gave up in the parking lot.”

He leans against the security counter, smiling at her father.

“You might want to put her in track and field. Sports are supposed to be a good way to help troubled teens,” he adds.

Her father turns to the guard and says, “only just a teenager at 14, but that’s not a bad idea… is it Georgia? You could use some exercise to get fit for modelling.”

Georgia looks up at her father and the fit security guard.

“I’m not troubled, and you know I don’t want to model anymore… I’m too short.”

She looks at the security guards, they both smile at her, “Fit and Fat,” she thinks. She smiles back for the first time, her nerves calmed.

Georgia and her father say good bye outside his office building.

“I guess your mom and I won’t have to punish you. Banned from the mall for 5 years and it seems like those guys taught you a lesson before I got there.” He smiles at Georgia and laughs.

“Thanks Dad. I’ll tell mom when I get home then you can talk about it.”

“Love you Georgia.”

“Love you Dad,” and Georgia walks away to the bus station.

~

Three weeks later, Georgia climbs out of her father’s car at the high school track field. A small group of teens and two coaches greet her with smiles, and Georgia recognizes a girl from her class.

The girl comes up to Georgia.

“Hey, how come you’re starting track?”

Georgia takes a sip from her water bottle and grimaces.

“What’s wrong?” asks the girl.

“Nothing. I just mixed some vodka with my water and it tastes terrible. I was afraid I would get tired so I thought this would loosen me up a bit.”

The girl laughs, then goes serious.

“You’re joking right?”

Georgia laughs, “Yes, of course I’m joking. No, I put advil in my water. Now I know why they only have it pill form.”

“So how come you’re joining track halfway through the season?”

“Got caught stealing and the security guard said I was so fast I should do the 100 meter sprint. So here I am.”

Georgia pours out her water into the grass.

“Mind if I share your water today? I can’t drink this,” Georgia asks.

The girl stammers, “sure, but-”

“Thanks.” Georgia picks up her bag and walks toward the coaches who are calling for them to gather around. The swagger is back in her step.

DOXA Delivers: Anticipating the 2013 Program

I’ve been lucky enough to be in Vancouver during the DOXA International Documentary festival the last three years and have seen some really amazing and inspiring stories brought to the screen.
Last year I participated in the Kris Anderson Connexions Youth Forum and had a full festival pass and got so many great workshops with female mentors and started my Flyryroo 2012 project.
This year the Forum is not running but I’m still going to splurge on a few tickets as it only comes once a year! The festival runs May 3 – May 12. Make time.
Here’s my list of films that tickle my fancy and hopefully yours as well. (Taken from the DOXA festival website)

Click on the titles for links to the film’s page on the DOXA program website for a full synopsis and trailer.

Lost Rivers

Looks like a eerie and beautiful film about sewers and underwater passageways that have been rediscovered and explored by people called “drainers”.

lost_rivers1_aeFree the Mind

About brain training… the neurological effects of meditation and brain exercises are studied on two veterans with PTSD and a preschooler diagnosed with ADHD.

freethemind
Rent a Family Inc.

Super excited for this one: A character documentary about a man who acts for a living in real life stories. He is often hired to walk brides down the aisle and meet in-laws, but his own family seems rather indifferent to his existence.

rentafamily
The Manor

I hope it’s not like Pawn Stars, but I always like a good family drama. Two brother’s daily struggles as they try to run the family strip club they inherited from their father… who is still trying to be involved from the backseat.

manor
Furever

Taxidermy, egyptians, funny cats… how can you go wrong? A doc that follows human’s attachment to their pets.

furever_3
The Great Hip Hop Hoax

Two boys from Scotland (oh motherland) pull an elaborate prank on an American Hip Hop team by pretending to be two Californian skater boys called Silibil n’ Brains. Not sure what to expect, but DOXA is doing two screenings so that nobody misses it.

greathiphophoax
The Mosuo Sisters

Two girls from rural China arrive in Hong Kong to be absolutely overwhelmed by urban life. For example, they think that skyscrapers are individual houses. They try to make a life but it might not be what they had wanted.

mosuosisters
The Mechanical Bride

I have always been fascinated with sex dolls. This film not only goes into the current story about sex dolls in society, but also delves into what sex might become (and is becoming) in the future.

mechanical-bride
Boredom

The scourge that invades our schools, our relationships, our jobs, our lives. What is boredom and how does it effect us and our children? Focusing on the educational system and the implications for society.

boredom

Rose Colored Glasses

Watch the trailer on this one and you will have to go to the theatre to see it. Sonia Suvagau is an SFU film grad from Vancouver and this is her debut feature. A character piece (I love character pieces) about a life-long eccentric who runs a gallery called the Pink Prison and takes on different personalities such as Pink Hitler. I want to know what’s up with this guy.

rcg-gallery

Oxyana

Oxycontin and Oceana. Appalachian fatalism. I’m not a big fan of drug documentaries but this is about how pill-popping has been spread through generations of families in Oceana and observes the lives of those who live in a city so drugged up it’s name has changed.

oxyana_14

Father Figures

I am most looking forward to this film above all. The filmmaker watches as her 70 year-old father marries a 23 year-old Philippina named Girlie. They have some strange symbiotic relationship but Gillian Hrankowski knows what lies are being told to make it work. Does she intervene and potentially hurt her father and ruin Girlie’s life?

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Leave a comment and let me know which films you’ll be checking out!