Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As the song goes, "it's just another New Year's Eve." For a friend of mine it's beyond that. It's another chance to fill 365 days with a fulfilling life. Diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 24 and given 4 years to live (this being his second), this new year comes with a lot of hope and acceptance. He was a brilliant employee who almost had great chances of moving out of the country, getting employed by one of the world's best employers and the ultimate dream of creating a life abroad with a loved one. Upon his diagnosis 2 years ago, his partner had left unable to handle a long-distance relationship, his employment was cut short because of health reasons and his dream making a sharp turn towards the unexpected. What is one to do when faced with death. When I received a long-distance call that day he told me about his ailment, the voice on the other line was casual, candid and even joking about other matters, then moving on towards a straightforward announcement of the diagnosis. He was to return home and resume his post with his former employer. He decided to change his lifestyle: a strict organic diet, exercise and lots of rest. But over and beyond that, a change in thinking. To come face to face with death is an inevitable embrace of it. The truth is we are face to face with our expiration from this planet, only he is faced with hard facts on how the expiration would come to pass. In the last times I've spoken with him, he has seemed to move on towards a higher level of existence. When I say higher, it means a kind of existence that goes beyond routine and day-to-day. It is higher because it sees the bigger picture and purpose of every hour, every day, and in this case every year. Tonight, he texts me from Australia and wishes me the best for the coming year. It is at that moment that I realize this is not just another New Year's Eve for him, for some. It is another chance at hope, another struggle with acceptance and another thanksgiving for life.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"Emily was in fact badly shocked by William's death and not only because it was unexpected. She had thought of him as young - well, not old, not even middle-aged. He had been fifty, surely not of an age when one thought of anything definite, like retirement, let alone death. But what was throwing her in to perplexity was that her life had become so bound up with his; since they had married everything she had done nd thought had been for William. And where was Emily McVeagh? Not so far away, obviously. But for ten years that was what she had done: she had been William's. And now what? She was forty. She could go back to nursing if she wanted. Already suggestions had been coming her way. She felt torn loose, floating...
She could marry again. But she could not imagine a man she would want to marry. However one put it, she had been married to William for better or for worse. After ten years what kind of profit or loss could be made? She did not know how to start. And if she could not say what had happened to her - and she saw it, felt it, as something, somebody, taking up the strands of her life and twisting them up with his - then how she even think of what to do next? She had been Emily McVeagh, a decided, definite, bold character and now she was nothing; she was something that drifted."
Excerpt from "Alfred and Emily" by Doris Lessing
Posted by Raphael at 10:21 PM
The first time I saw a Gone With The Wind book, was when I was first year high school. It was being read by my bookworm elder sister. Admittedly I was not attracted to either its title nor its cover. Having no idea of the American Civil War and only being familiar with artwork reminiscent of the Louis L'Amour western novels my grandfather read extensively (and repeatedly), I assumed it was some sort of John Wayne type or a cowboy novel. So I really didn't even consider graduating from my regular Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels to a 1040 page novel (or 900 plus, depending on the printing). My only knowledge then of GWTW was its song: Tara's Theme which my mother would always request me to play on the piano.
Back then, only 13 years old, I was brought up in an environment with a strong consciousness of ones' actions and words. Being guided by a school run by strict La Sallian brothers and faculty, molded me into a person whose thoughts and actions where ruled by the goal of being the perfect Christian gentleman.
So how did I come across this book? The exact moment is unknown to me. I just know it came out of boredom from the long Summer, and a need for all of us in the family to be holding a book in hand -- hoping we could be literature literate and to keep us out from playing out in the streets too much.
I was immediately drawn by the twists in the plot of the novel. The twist in the lead characters: Scarlett O' Hara who was probably the most honest character I've ever encountered in literature and in life at that time. Rhett Butler who bared the truth of the war, not wanting to be hero of it, but wanted to make war his hero in furthering his interests. The unrequited love, the foolish pursuit of an imagined love, and the strong will to survive come hell and high waters (come hell of Atlanta burning actually). GWTW seemed to be teaching life values unfamiliar to my rearing. I felt it wasnt' wrong to speak your mind, nor was it wrong to be practical. Of course Scarlett O' Hara and Rhett Butler went overboard. It was romance with a lot of honesty and yet lacking in a common truth: that they actually did love each other truly.
Since then, the book has found its place by my bedside ready for a re-read or a peek again at how it is to love it again. I have actually gathered some memorabilia of GWTW: books, posters, script, dolls and drawings. Even up to now, I wouldn't mind re-reading it again. It's an affair that never ends. Read it and discover the magic of what it feels to go with the wind of Margaret Mitchell.
Monday, December 29, 2008
When Franklin Mint "silently" (meaning with a seemingly absence of Press Release and advertising) unveiled its 2008 Christmas with Ashley Scarlett, there was no denying it was a must-have. In my opinion, the material is richer than the version which Tonner did on the same dress for its Scarlett doll. The skirt is dark and reflects an elegant play of light and shadow. The doll's hair is also faithful to the film's hairstyle worn by Vivien Leigh; even embellished with a jewelry detail at the back. The brooch of this dress is fringed with gold threads - a detail that Tonner overlooked. It was pricey but one of those costumes that Scarlett looked good in. There was no doubt that Ashley would be smitten by her charm and give her a kiss before he left for the war.
Thanks to Fran of the Franklin Mint Scarlett Vinyl Yahoo Groups for helping me acquire this wonderful doll!
It seems inconsistent though that Franklin Mint would do this somehow hard-to-do hairstyle for this doll and not do the same for the rest of their Scarlett dolls. I am still wishing and hoping that Franklin Mint would do articulation on their dolls.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
My doll collection, albeit small, is confined mostly to Gone with the Wind (purchases dictated and limited by space). Somehow, this idea of miniature things remind me of another work of literature, Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie. The story of escape through a collection of glass crystals by a young crippled girl who lives through them. Unable to live with the world (crippled); her feminine allure disabled. The doll collection is my "Glass Menagerie". It is my escape from the real world and it is also that which helps me cope with it. At the end of the day, nothing is more comforting than to take each doll in your hand, repaint, restyle, photograph and immortalize them in a portrait. You might be saying: "Oh c'mon get a life!" But by whose standards do we "get a life"? I have kept this collection almost a secret only known to those nearest me and to you, whoever is reading this blog. The truth is our lives are our own. We should stop living them by the standards of others but our own, that which makes us complete and happy. In that we cannot be judged nor looked down upon.
Had it been photography or some other hobby, others would have accepted, but doll collecting for a man can often border on sissiness and silly-ness. Oh I've received weird looks whenever I speak of it. "Oh there he goes again buying another doll" kind of a look. It is not ours to make others accept who we are. My belief is, whatever makes us positively happy, makes us complete. No one in life and in this world has the right to take away that state.
We all have our glass menageries, our little collection. Tennessee Williams speaks of a girl whose future is dictated by the obsessive dreams of her mother for her to be wed, as it was in the past. Laura is crippled and perhaps so is her future, if she allows being crippled to be an impediment.
In a world that thinks less of a physical, mental or psychological disability, a glass menagerie can be therapeautic. In this case, my dolls have saved me from many a stressful and crippling moments big and small. Though not made of glass, they are as fragile as hope.
The white gown you see in the previous posts worn by the Tonner Scarlett doll is inspired by the Bette Davis movie "Jezebel" and was recreated by Alana Bennett (www. dollfashionsbyalana.com). Alana is a talented doll seamstress who has done fashions from Gone with the Wind, Titanic and whatever you can possible think of.
The blue lace gown is another piece done by Alana. We thought of doing this gown from the TV Series "Scarlett". She not only added the gloves, she gave me pantalets, hooped skirt and a nice night purse to go with this outfit.
The Pink ensemble is the "Trip to Saratoga" outfit by Tonner worn by the doll which has been repainted. The purple dress is Tonner's "In the Mist" doll for their GWTW collection. I thought of putting the doll against the sad backdrop of Tara.
Hope you enjoy the photos!
I enjoy doing a photoshoot with the dolls I have in my collection. Here are few more portraits. Why I do them? Well, they're the most cooperative subjects specially if they have articulation. I enjoyed the Tonner GWTW collection if only for the new costumes and the articulation and wish that Franklin Mint's Scarlett would adopt the same format. What you see are a mix of Tonner on Franklin Mint Scarletts or vice-versa and one-of-a-kind doll dresses done by Alana Bennett (check out dollfashionsbyalana.com) for more.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Dolls. My little hobby is repainting dolls - specifically, Gone With the Wind-inspired dolls. The photos you see are from my collection. Originally Tonner GWTW dolls (save for the Franklin Mint Scarlett doll in red skirt), their factory paint had been erased (with much effort) and their new faces repainted following the features of actress, Vivien Leigh. The doll outfits are re-creations of Walter Plunkett's GWTW designs: The white layered dress from the beginning of the movie, the "Mill" dress (in b/w) and the glorious red gown worn by Scarlett when she is forced to go to Ashley's birthday party. The features are painted with great attention to detail although I feel they are amateurishly done. The hairstyles (black and white photo and red gown) have been re-created too following the hairstyles done by Sydney Guilaroff (GWTW hairstylist). I am inspired by Noel Cruz doll repaints (see his at ncruz.com). I believe he is the best in the world!
Repainting a doll is similar to repainting action figures. Only here, one involves hairstyling. Using a brush as small as 20/0 and acrylic paint, the repainting is done with layers to achieve a fully blended and contoured look for the doll.
Where is it? Lost in all the "rush", the traffic, the need to buy this or else someone may be left out; lost in the year-end targets, the poor using its spirit to justify senseless charity, lost in the rich using the season to alleviate a year of pointless spending by indulging in charity. Where is Christmas? It's carols now blasting in the malls heralding the season of commercialism and retail. Where is Christmas? It's spirit exploited by the politicians to build billboards greeting the public if only to make themselves top-of-mind for the coming elections. Christmas is for kids, they say. But what have we made Christmas mean for them now: a new Playstation, the latest gadgetry, the branded bag, the watch that could feed a hundred families?
I lost my spirit of Christmas the day my parents broke the magic. Santa didn't exist and therefore expect "no more big gifts." Just like that. They shouldn't have introduced us to the idea of Santa if they would have trampled on the idea years later. And there you were, silent whilst the younger children in your family received their gifts still believing Santa existed. Silly isn't it. It dawned on me that the world was somehow crazy. Or perhaps my parents were the crazy ones. But they're only human. And Christmas and all its legends, tales and magic were a mere creation of men.
Never trust the tales that men tell.
Born in 1965. Second in a brood of 6. Unmarried but partnered (5 years going on 6). Introspective; always in need of space; searching for goodness in others; wondering why goodness finds difficulty in coming out in this world, in work, in relationships, in love, in family, etc. I yearn to read all the great works of people. I would have loved to travel the world, if only I was free of obligations. The thought of travel is daunting because I know if I leave I would never want to come back to my country. I am idealistic, sometimes too much. I am fearful that a day ends without an accomplishment. I envy the great things that happen in places in the world: the flourish of creativity, the great things created by people. Middle aged and still wondering why we have to pay our taxes, property taxes, insurance, investments, etc. Why does life have so many requisites? My greatest dream is to live away in some quiet place which cannot be touched by the craziness of the world. I love dogs and their simplicity and unconditional loyalty. I love colored skies that show you the wonder of how small we really all are. I do not like imposing, nor do I enjoy impositions. Love and life should never be an imposition. If they are as beautiful as people say they are, why are there too many rules to love and living. Autumn is beautiful, Winter, Summer and Spring; a little baby's laughter. And yet these do not demand too much from us. Only those that man creates imposes. I am a loner and can stand being alone if need be. I am fatalistic and can prepare myself for the eventuality of death. I have lost a father when I was younger and lost his memory with time. I am longing to understand life so I know that when I leave I can embrace what's next after. I do not like children suffering. They should be spared. Much of the world's chaos is brought about by children who had no way of explaining pain and all the stupidity that adults create. I wish to live in Peter Pan's Neverland. I live in my own fairy tales still hoping for happy ever afters. I am tired of the world and all that man dictates for the world to be. I need space, lots of it. I lack sleep and find being awake at night the most beautiful part of 24 hours. Let the whole world sleep, and you awake. Time stops when the world is sleeping. I hate mornings because they summon us to move again with the craziness of the world: the traffic, the meetings, the presentations, the bills to pay.
This is who I am as far as I know. And it is my aim to know myself better, understand the world better so I can manage its craziness and shield myself from its faults. Perhaps it is also a way to shield the world from the likes of me.
"Who am I" will dictate "what I want to be" in the remaining years. "Who am I" will pave the way for me to go to a place where I can say my soul is truly at peace.
Soultalk777. I have always been wary of opening a blog. This being my second attempt and hopefully my last. Choosing a name for ones' blog is like asking yourself: who am I? what am I here for? where is this going to go? Questions which actually others will find silly but which I think set the direction of ones' existence specially when one is 43. Existentialist? Philosophical? Profound? I don't know. I just want a place where I can converse with my mind and if by chance that conversation reaches others, so be it. I am not here to show intellectual capabilities, nor to wow people with words and ideas. I am here because I need conversation; conversation with the soul. My soul. The truth is the world is too claustrophobic with work, the need to achieve, the technology, the lack of privacy, the noise, the chatter, the egos, etc. etc. I never wished and still never wish to be part of those. And yet, because you live, because you need to make a living, because you move around others who have stronger voices, you get sucked in.
I need a rock to hold on, a way to get back to myself everyday.
I want a journal to measure myself; look back on to see where I've been, if my soul has made any progress at all in knowing its purpose. I do not wish to write for others. Why blog then? Well, it is the modern diary isn't it? Throw those thoughts into a sea of online thoughts and if by chance it connects with someone, then my only wish is that serves a purpose. I am a Creative Director who feels the intimidation of that one great power that the Universe or God has given us: creativity. Man has made it an extension of his ego. And so, in any industry that gift is subject to ridicule, mockery and condescending eyes. Intellectual bullying is common in all creative industries. It is reductive of one who bullies and the one bullied.
I am searching for a way to affirm my existence away from the measure of the world. When one is truly happy, even in the simplest ways, it doesn't matter how rich or big others are. The world measures us by numbers: how much do you have? how many have you done? We are all on a journey and our souls, I believe, have chosen a personal route to their destinations. Each one choosing their own course in life -- without us knowing it. Who are we to judge which one is better than the other when each one is after a personal and unique destination.
So, let this be my personal journey into my thoughts and into my life, and into my soul. This is my connection to you "soul". Listen to me. I will listen to you. Help me find what you need to fulfill for yourself -- help me to find what we need to fulfill away from what others think we need to fulfill. It's crazy I know. But uniqueness is often judged that.
I will not say no to my soul no more.
I will not say yes to what others feel I must do and must be.
I will not say no to life no more.
I will only say yes to what my soul feels my life should be.