Monday, November 24, 2014

American Music Awards - 2014

My son picks me up at LAX. I get into the car, and he leans closer to me and says, “Hey mah! I know this isn’t really your thing, but I have 3 tickets for the American Music Awards for tomorrow night. Wanna go?” “Of course”, I respond cautiously. This was an experience I wasn’t going to pass up!

I wasn’t quite sure what I would wear. “The American Music Awards”, I thought to myself. “Isn’t that like, really, big? Don’t I have to wear a gown?” Jonathan and Staci reassured me that ‘casual dress’ was fine, so I chose the nicest attire I had brought with me, borrowed my granddaughter’s brown boots that matched my skirt, and appeared at the front door ready to leave. “Nice” says Jonathan. “You know mom, you don’t need to bring a bag with you. Why don’t you leave it here?”
“Are you sure?” I said.  “I’m totally open to leaving it behind. It has my wallet and glasses though. Is that okay? Will you hold my glasses?” “Sure” he says.

As we get into the Uber cab, I notice that Staci is carrying her purse. “How come? Why didn’t she, also get encouraged to leave hers’ behind?”

Then I realize. My Indian cloth purse adorned with peace signs identifies, just a little, who I am. And who I am is definitely not in line with what I’m about to contend with.

Pop culture is extreme in Los Angeles. Even my 10 year old granddaughter, Stella, listens to pop music whenever she gets a chance, and struggles to emulate what she hears and sees in the entertainment around her. I am reminded how influential that world can be and I struggle with our youth’s obsession with trying to ‘fit in’.  Pop culture creates a vision of unreality and disguised authenticity. Instead of us searching within ourselves for meaning, we find meaning in others and in our outside world. That’s dangerous.

Our Uber cab takes us as close to the theatre as the driver is comfortable. Crowds are thick and noisy, and very well dressed.  Approaching the red carpet is difficult and I am aware of the significance of walking on the famous ‘red carpet’.

The opulence and decadence is everywhere and I’m feeling a little uncomfortable. The people seem a bit unreal… perhaps plastic representations of themselves. I have never seen so many skinny (and I mean really skinny) women in one place. And the clothing, mostly black and mostly scantily covering bodies, spans from the very simple to the extravagant and glittery. The show is in the fashion.  In contrast, I like the simplicity of what Staci and I are wearing. I’m in baggy brown silk pants with a short skirt and a white loose blouse. Staci is in a simple black dress.

Now… I’m not one to live in fear. I don’t generally engage in media hype and I tend to avoid getting involved in other people’s business. I don’t listen to news. Instead, I tend to seek good news events and see positivity and joy around me. The AMA challenged that practice.
As I wander down the red carpet towards the entrance to the theatre, I think, “If extremists wanted to attack pop culture, this venue would be the place to do it.” The epitome of pop culture is highlighted right here at The AMA in a city that thrives on the same all year round! I had to reroute my thoughts in order to disengage from those patterns and focus on the event and the unique experience before me.

The music ranges from the ridiculous (Mary Blige’s “Why would I spend the rest of my days unhappy when I can go therapy two times a day?), to the inspirational. Artists like Sam Smith and bands such as One Direction, Imagine Dragons and Magic demonstrated great musicianship in their composition, lyrics and performances. The women performers tended to annoy me, focussing more on the spectacle than on the quality of the music.  Provocative costumes that intentionally accentuated body parts, movements that are sexual in nature and provocative, and obvious invitations of sexual activity with other performers insinuated the focus on sex. I had always thought the AMA’s was about music!

The set designs are overly extravagant. Singers falling out of flaming torches on the stage, and incredible designs with lights and glitter demand attention. Designs that mimic the outdoors with brilliant moon displays are spectacular I just can't help but imagine the millions of dollars that go into these displays, and the better places where this money could be spent.

The women strut and grind their bodies flamboyantly on ornately designed stages. The men paw and gyrate insinuating the more aggressively we act, the more love we receive.
I feel strongly that those people in our lives who become role models should reflect behaviours and qualities that we want to emulate. Media influences the direction of this course. For me, the AMA’s focus too much on sexuality, violence, divisiveness and hype and not enough on music, moral integrity, and talent.

I’m glad I went to the awards. I so appreciate the opportunity and am grateful to Jonathan for making it possible for me to experience. I know it should have been about listening to music and watching the show, but it sure made me think!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Remembrance Day Memories

“What did poppi do in the war, mom?” This was the question my 24 year old daughter asked me this morning. She is on her way to a school assembly with a teacher friend of hers. It’s Remembrance Day in Canada and she realized she didn’t know very much about her own grandfather. He’s my father! And, quite frankly…I don’t know much either!

My father, Sidney David fought in the Second World War. I know this because there are pictures of him as a soldier. I used to hear how during my parent’s courtship, my father was overseas. Those were hard times. My mother would tell me how being separated from him was challenging, and, patriotism in the United States made complaining unfashionable. Both my parents loved being American, and, serving in the US army during W.W. II was an honour.

There are pictures taken from an airplane flying above Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped over the city. I remember seeing those pictures and wondering how that was even possible. I remember my dad casually telling me how he was sent into Hiroshima to help ‘clean up’. I can’t even imagine what that meant. And I never thought to ask.

The only other reference to dad’s army involvement came in the form of an on-going family joke. During our dinners, whenever someone was asked to “pass the salt”, or “Can I have some more carrots?”, it was expected that we would pass it directly on. If one of us served our self before we passed on the requested item, my father would tell us “If you were in the army, you’d be peeling potatoes for a full day!”  With furrowed brows and cynical smiles, inevitably, we all laughed!

I never had those deep conversations with my dad! I never knew about his experiences. He never offered to share. I never asked. I wish I did. I wish I could ask him now. Those stories are lost. There is no one who can tell me about them. Those are my father’s stories, and, like him, they’re gone.

So I persevere to tell my stories to my children. They don’t ask, and sometimes I think they’re not even interested. But I do it anyway, because I know that one day, they’re going to want to know. And I want them to know me! I wish I knew my daddy better!

So that I had more to remember...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

I'm back!!!!

Feelin' gooooood!
I’m back! It’s been a good six months since I’ve last posted. I’m not going to say I’ve been busy”. I’ve decided I don’t want to use that expression anymore. The fact is…my life is full!

Maintaining our home takes lots of time and energy. Building structures, creating gardens and managing outdoor living requires daily effort. Because we basically live outside, so much of what we do, happens right under the skies, no matter what the weather provides. So, basically, we need to be ready for anything. That takes effort.
Yurt Living

It sure is getting cold. Making a simple meal takes inspiration! Our new barbecue is great, and, I’ve finally figured out how the temperature works. Our ginger chocolate chip cookies were burned on the bottom. And our Friday night challahs were crispy on the outside and too moist on the inside. I’m learning, now, how to control and manage the baking better. It’s a challenge that just takes time to work through.

Summertime was all about opening our home to family members and friends. We had on-going activity in the summer, hosting many gatherings and providing space for people to gather. We work and play together, making meals, playing music, and simply talking. Winter, however, is when we gladly accept invitations to be with friends in their warm spacious homes.

Work is woven in to the seasons.  The fact is, people exist even during the summer, and my work always involves people. Whether people come from schools and/or school districts, or from food banks or soup kitchens, my work survives even through summer time frolic and, then, into the colder winter months.

This summer Paul and I began the planning of our new house.  The trees have been cleared and there are two piles of beautiful fir planks ready to be used for our floors and ceilings. The ground has been dug and the hole clearly identifies where our house will be. With our builder friends, Marc and Huguette, we painstakingly designed the house, sent the drawings off to the inspector, who ultimately assured us that it is within “the building code’. Cement will be poured within the next two weeks.

Notice the tarp covering 
the kitchen to ward 
off the winds
Meanwhile, winter is in full bloom. I awaken each morning in the dark, and begin dinner preparation late afternoon in the dark. I am finding my biological clock adjusting, and, exhaustion leads to deep sleep before the moon swings across our sky.

The toothpaste is frozen when I go to brush my teeth, and in order to get the conditioner into my hair, I have to ease my finger into the tube to warm the solution before it squeezes through.  Our outdoor shower is glorious with a powerful, pounding spout. When the wind comes, I just have to follow the flow in order to stay under its stream.

And, sometimes, as I gather dry twigs to light the fire in the morning, I sometimes think to myself “What am I doing? I’m almost 60 years old and I’m gathering twigs to keep us warm?”

One of our sons said to me lately, “How do you live like that? Why are you doing this? “
I am living an adventure, no doubt! And…I am immersed in Nature. People pay big bucks for this kind of adventure. I live it daily!  Yurt living keeps me closely in touch with the natural world. Cleaning the dirt, cooking hot meals, maintaining a nice collection of firewood, and loving the time to read, watch movies, create and just ‘be’ is a beautiful alternative to busy living…especially on 
those days ‘off’ from work.
Who woulda’ thunk? Life is full, and rich and wholesome! And, for now, I wouldn’t want it any other way!!!!
Our 'dining room' (in warm weather anyway)