Saturday, November 22, 2014

Mockingjay Viewpoints

So, Thursday night I went to see Mockingjay.

(And would have totally posted about it yesterday, but you know, work. And fireworks. )


A bunch of us from school decided to go, do that whole sit against the wall and chill for two hours before opening type of deal.

I was decently excited for the movies. I read the books and hadn't been super impressed. The first one was interesting (even if I was reminded of the Battle Royale plot), the second very similar to the first, and the third, well Katniss wasn't super passive, but nor was she amongst the most important part of the world's action. I felt like things were seen from the side and from far away.

The movies though, they seemed to be getting better. I attribute a lot of that to Jennifer Lawrence,
she's grown tremendously in her career between movies, and also to the use of film as a medium. As I noticed re-watching/reading HP with Dani, movies do a better job at bringing out emotions. At showing the little details of the world because while reading you're focused on the main characters but movies can show you the small things you wouldn't notice/put in a book. Music, settings, they all help to create a mood that's hard to see in books (but then again, I tend to imagine things in ways similar to me. Unless a character is constantly said to be 18, I'm gonna think they're 26 like me.)

The increasing darkness of the Hunger Games trilogy, of understanding the impacts of the power plays and intense situations, is something I can see more in the movies than books. I'm sure it plays no small part in me adding this series to the very short list of 'Movie Adaptations that are Better than the Books.'

But back to the premier. A lot of my European classmates were excited because, well, cuz it's the Hunger Games. I sat next to a Venezuelan friend while waiting and why she loved the books just blew me away.


At its heart, you could say Collins's novels are about the mass uniting to challenge a corrupt government. As an American, I'm familiar with this. It's in my history. It's in the movies and books I see. To me, it's a troupe. There's nothing special.

But to her, it was a model. An idea, motivation. Venezuela is having a lot of political problems right now (some of which is drastically affecting students here and if you want to find out more/help her, please do so) and reading a book about a nation rallying together resonates with her a lot more than me.

The idea, the themes, "this is what we want to do."

I know SF/F has been used as allegories for social issues for ages and hey I've read some as such myself. But these things I take for granted - freedom to petition, to be heard, to be lead by who I want (other voters depending) - I never see them in the fiction I read. Or rather, I don't place as much as an importance on them as others. They aren't the 'meat' of the story.

No wonder international markets really are huge for American media, they have this whole new understanding that's applicable as soon as they set down the book or walk out the door. I've always known books and films to be powerful, there are some that will never leave me too, but I've never thought about it in this way before. That it could inspire the mass.

That it did in Thailand.

Seeing thing from a new perspective...I love the sense of the world shifting and changing, the feeling that I suddenly got 100x smarter. I love learning, period.

Monday, November 17, 2014

This adventure brought to you by salsa

I promised adventures so....

The other night I:

  • was dipped and twirled, lifted up and spun
  • had my toes stepped on so often I'm surprised they didn't turn black and blue
  • lost my shoe a couple of times
  • twisted at least one ankle, but I'm thinking both and really need to get a thicker ace wrap
  • learned how to salsa
  • maybe networked? I've been telling people I'm an independent brand manager, some guy at the bar was interested in that and asked for my number. I thought he was just angling to get my digits so I gave him fake ones, but now I keep wondering if he seriously needed help with promotions and I just tossed an actual freelancing opportunity out the window :/
  • learned that you really had to have a good dance partner.
  • discovered it's hard to dance with a guy more than a little shorter than you (wasn't even wearing heels) and pretty much impossible to get dipped though the poor guy tried
  • got to practice my Spanish a little bit
  • had a ton of fun dancing at a place and in a style that wasn't as sexualized as my previous experiences and that was wonderful

One of my roomies, if you couldn't tell, dragged me out to a cigar bar that has salsa dancing Friday
nights. At first I was really nervous, you're just supposed to ask/be asked by random guys to get on the dance floor? By people who all looked way more then a bit older than me (or maybe it's just my impressions, forgetting I'm 26 now and thinking I'm still the 23 year old who went to live in rural Africa. Probably didn't help that I only had a small make-up mirror that entire time).

I have never felt more like a Millennial; I wanted to take out my phone and snap pictures, maybe take a video. But no one else was doing such a thing, so I didn't, and lo and behold old, short Latinos were asking me to dance and taught me a few basic steps and then the younger guys appeared and man there was some fast spinning. 

I've always liked dancing, but have never been huge on doing it in public cuz of incidents in clubs during undergrad and how things are so sexual among my generation. It's a bit uncomfortable. But this was fun, constantly switching partners and enjoying the music provided from a live band.  You have good partners and bad ones (I had 50/50) but is was a good night, getting me out of my comfort zone and trying new things. 

Will I go again, most likely. But probably not anytime soon because my ankles really need time to heal. And I need new shoes, comfy heels, but because it's so much easier to spin on a point.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Moving and Settling

I think I'm finally settling into my new apartment here in San Francisco. Which is amazing because moving is hard and doing it three times in three months pretty much killed me with a bunch of stress. Well, not the most recent move - I was so eager to get out of there.

Still, it's surprising how much moving disrupts little routines.  When I moved to my new place, I kept misplacing things because where I had gotten in the habit of putting them (table by the door) was no longer a viable option. Things had changed position, and it's funny to become of aware of how I was subconsciously setting up the kitchen. Spices were in the Ethiopia location. Condiments were placed where they are in my parents home. My bed is the same relative corner of the room as it was in Huruta, my bathroom stuff divided into drawers to match my childhood home.
Really like corner desks too.

It's kinda weird, I always assumed I would place things where they were easily accessible. Comparing what I was doing with small thing and what my new roomies were it was easy to see that what I saw as 'easily accessible' was actually just 'comfortable and familiar'.

It reminded me about one of those PC manuals I got before leaving for Addis. It's the little disruptions in your routine that make you go crazy and tire you out, because routines exist so you don't have to use all your brain power. Activities are automatic. And then you disrupt that and you have to pay hyper attention to what you're doing and you're all volatile and you blow up at an Ethiopian child trying to hold your hand.

Or in this case, try not to slam a cabinet door when you see that the spatula is in the knife drawer and harshly state the right place to a roomie.

I did mention that Peace Corps taught me patience, right?

Anyway - I feel like this is my first stable place in a while.  Yeah, I was pretty comfortable in Huruta but I also knew it was only for two years. And yeah, I don't know enough about where I'll be in the next year to the point I'm worried about getting a magazine subscription (maybe I'll get a job in SF next Fall, maybe not). But still, I can decorate the walls. I can add personal touches. I can set things up the way I want to and not have to worry about having only one outlet in a room. I can do things I want to do I haven't been able for awhile - bake, take a long shower, buy vegetables other than tomatoes.

Yet I want more. I want to start building up collections - I never truly got to replace all the books that where water damaged while I was at university. Where would I put all those books? Where would I put all the DVDs I want to buy, solid reminders of favorites and easy, big screen access to what I want to rewatch? Where can I put all the little items I want to collect, costume parts and baking pans and recipes and souvenirs? Not really here, but I'm gonna try anyway.

This is my first real (American) place to do this. I'm excited.