Dita Parker

Friday, October 23, 2009

Learning to fly

Finally got to see Up! *sigh*And the kids got to see Mom crying at the movies. (Happens all the time with Hubby, I can't help it, I don't see why one should even try to.) My 5 yo climbed on my lap and patted my cheek, and I cried some more. It was such a sweet instinctive attempt to console me I couldn't help it. Why would one even need to? *and another*

If you've begun to suspect a secret vow to dumb down and churn out the same old same old has been taken in La La Land, try an animation. Astounding stuff coming out on both sides of the Pacific. I'm talking about Pixar and Studio Ghibli. They are alive and kicking proof there is magic in cinema, the old-fashioned kind with original insights and twists in every single title. Heart, a sizeable one. Spirit and imagination. Creativity at its finest. There is an old school mentality, even sentimentality, to them, the Hero's Journey, but always something fresh and startling as well. The themes are universal so anyone, anywhere, can relate. The undertones are such an adult enjoys them, the story simple enough for a child to follow. And they've never failed to leave me feeling happy and uplifted.

Pixar takes to the skies with Up as so many Ghibli productions have done. Howl's Moving Castle came to mind. I wasn't surprised to hear of John Lasseter's admiration of Hayao Miyazaki who is considered by many in the film, comics and gaming industry to be the greatest animator alive. I think he's a genius. 

Even if you don't have kids, go see or rent their movies, Ghibli or Pixar or preferably both. If you feel you need a chaperone, take your child or borrow one, I promise you they won't be disappointed. Neither will you, especially if that inner child of yours has been in hiding for too long. You'll come away ready to take flight. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

She will be loved

I can't stop smiling to myself or doing the samba, and doing either in this infernal climate of Arctic winds and inhumane temperatures is considered plain wacko, at least when done in public. Yes, I remember promising myself and all the world I would undergo an attitude adjustment and put a lid on the b, m and w, and maybe buy a thicker parka and stop complaining about the weather. I said I'm both smiling and dancing, what more do you want?

My sister got married over the weekend and we had the most amazing time co-hosting a bilingual and bicultural ceremony and the celebrations to go with it. Little baby sis was the most beautiful baiana bride, and I love my brother-in-law and his friends to pieces for how they treated her all day. She was the uncrowned but undoubted Belle of the Ball and Queen of the Night, and I'm so happy for them and her I could burst.

We've been forced to spend much time apart over the years, but we've managed to forge a connection that transcends time and geography. I've managed to nag and egg on, I've listened and spoken my mind, been annoying and cheerleading. What are friends and big sisters for anyway? She knows I'll stand by her always, despite the times apart and hang geography.

I wish her and her soon to grow family heaven, and when life gets a little hellish as it inevitably at times does, I hope she doesn't start thinking twice about calling me, anytime, wherever she or I may be. And if you haven't called your siblings in ages, please do, now, right now. Can't stand the sight of them, huh? I think they miss you, too.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An unfinished life

I conducted a birthday interview of a fascinating lady, a prominent figure in her home town, with much history and many stories to recount, and dame-dazzled Dita falling under her considerable charm, exuberance and grace. In the end, I didn't want to compress her life into a few paragraphs; I wanted to write a memoir there and then. And I wanted to know the source of her buoyancy. She pointed at a portrait, a chiaroscuro I had noticed walking in, the eyes vividly done, a luminous face standing out from the shadowy background.

In most cases of the much mocked and misunderstood Pollyannas, it is either or: life has either been good or life has dealt a death-blow, the latter often leading to a life filled with either bitterness or gratitude. Her lust for life had become indestructible the day her eldest son had died. Not that very day, of course, she added, but with time, when trying to make sense of something that made no sense, only hurt. She had forced herself to go on undefeated and decided to honor the spirit of her spirited child by celebrating his life and talent, not concentrating on the fact he was gone. She couldn't change that. Nothing or no one could.

She had had time to think about things. It was her eightieth birthday. She had survived Hitler and Stalin but she had also done the unnatural and outlived her child. And how she told the story of the last time she saw her first-born and how she had reacted to being told he had been killed, how I watched the pain resurface and try to take over, it could have happened four weeks and not some forty years ago. The exact times and the weather, what everyone had been wearing, the policemen's names. Like watching a piece of film or looking at a picture that hadn't faded, she could bring it all back. She told me it wasn't his life that flashed in front of her eyes but all that could have been. A life with his wife and baby, a career in art.

Maybe the trauma stamped the day in her mind for life. Maybe she needed to remember everything. Maybe she couldn't help but remember. His death had first made her crazy then kept her sane. It was as though the worst having already happened, nothing else could touch her. Any following misery had been a trifle in comparison. All the good she had experienced had been a bonus. Guarantees had expired, certainties had ceased to exist.

Dealing with and getting over the bitterness and anger had been the hardest part. Watching people destroy their lives and take others with them; the disregard and indifference that for a while had seemed prevalent; realizing she could have been as insensitive had not something of infinite value been taken from her; wondering is that what it takes to learn awareness; wishing the price for such tutoring hadn't been as staggering and long-standing; coming to terms.

No time had healed the wound. She said no time ever would. The pain had gradually subsided but the loss was forever. Life had been a good school but the lessons death had taught her had been immensely more valuable.

She was by no means finished with life and living. She was very much alive in this world, with all her senses, in every sense, even when she owed all her light and glow to the dark.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Do you live in the moment? Get things done ASAP because you may never have another chance? Or is it the perfect reason to take the scenic route? Make a phone call, smell your flower of choice, or stop to think and forget to start again, to quote the infinite wisdom of Pooh, since you may never have another chance?

But isn't the insistence to live in the here and now sometimes only a desperate attempt to hold on to the status quo, even when you sense resistance is futile? I don't know what else explains this sudden melancholy. Jorge Amado said the only sin and the greatest insult against life is sadness. Well, forgive me Jorge for I have sinned. After some northern exposure one-on-one you would have too. But you would not have been much of a writer had you stuck your head in the sand, the seemingly endless sandy coast of Bahia, somewhere out there, way out there. Way too far out there.

I'm not exactly sad summer is over. Saudade is the Brazilian Portuguese word for how I'm feeling; a bittersweet longing. It grips me every fall. A fragile state, a vulnerable existence where I have no right to claim I enjoy every passing second to the fullest, not if I'm startled by the sight of raindrops and rusty leaves or threatened by the darkest of nights and dusky, foggy mornings. Why do I fear them so much? They're beautiful. This is Scandinavia with its changing seasons and temperatures. It is what it is. What it's supposed to be.

I like to think I live in the moment. I cannot honestly say I do if I'm this hung up on summer and bracing myself for another winter of discontent. I'm bound to shut out much and that's no way to experience the world or write. That's no way to live at all. I'll force myself to pay attention instead and remind myself to doubt everything I'm sure of, especially concerning myself.

We're not everything we believe ourselves to be. And we're more than we think. We may sometimes see two very different faces in the mirror but as long as we can live with both and not shun either I guess we'll be all right.

So what's your kryptonite?