Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Company

Rollin' with the homies

I have been hosting my half-Russian cousin whom I haven't seen since I was about 4 years old since Monday. Lucky for me/her/us, we get along marvelously since she's got a seemingly good head on her shoulders and is seemingly independent. I say seemingly because hey, it's only the third day and you never know. She will be staying with me for a few months. [Yes, you read that correctly.] No doubt this will teach me some things about solitude.

Despite my initial apprehension, I'm looking forward to our time spent together. This could be a premature statement, or it could be me realizing that perhaps life's struggles are softened when one has constant [enjoyable] company. And I can surely attest that the past few years on my own haven't been all rainbows and butterflies! I'm starting to think that having a shoulder to lean on will help when life throws me one of its various blows. Now here's to her finding a job and me getting some of my alone time back! *clink!*

When I'm with my guests, it's important for me to pay full attention to them. I like to show genuine interest in them and what they're saying and doing. Paying attention and listening also shows a semblance of respect. With that being said, I rarely answer my cellphone when I'm with friends. I'm still trying to figure out what is appropriate cell phone usage now that I have constant company.

I can't complain though... I've always said I wanted to live with a friend [that, or alone]... and in about 3 weeks I'll be doing just that [I'm moving in with a new friend, along with my cuzzo]. I think I spoke about my move already, but I didn't tell you that my current roommate [aka the wannabe landlord chick I hand the rent over to, that I spoke about here] got all tight-fisted with my security deposit and went buckwildcrazy, screaming things about kicking me out and trying [keyword] to hit me in the process. I am not above going to jail for smacking the shit outta someone who truly deserves it so thank goodness my friend was around to pull me away and talk some sense into me before I murked this bitch. I called the police on this nutto and saved myself a journey to jail for assault. Yes I did. It all worked out though... she left mad and my squad [of 10 people] came through for me [you know, for consoling and stuff]. Who needs company like that cuckoobird?! In the end, she got a talking to from the po-po and I got to stay in the apartment for an extra month, rent free.

"I'd rather be alone than in bad company." How many people truly live that? Many people will say pretend they agree with it wholeheartedly and then spend vasts amounts of time with losers and empty people. Like Colin Powell said [supposedly, I haven't verified this]:
The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people. As you grow, your associates will change. Some of your friends will not want you to go on. They will want you to stay where they are. Friends that don’t help you climb will want you to crawl. Your friends will stretch your vision or choke your dream. Those that don’t increase you will eventually decrease you.
Consider this: Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere. With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it.
Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life. Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships. If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights. “A mirror reflects a man’s face, but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses.” The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those with whom you closely associate - for the good and the bad. 
Note: Be not mistaken. This is applicable to family as well as friends. [Mmm... you better PREACH Colin!!!] Yes…do love, appreciate and be thankful for your family, for they will always be your family no matter what. Just know that they are human first and though they are family to you, they may be a friend to someone else and will fit somewhere in the criteria above.
“In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends.”
“Never make someone a priority when you are only an option for them.”
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters." "Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
-Colin Powell
For some reason I think Colin Powell has better things to do than spout out blah blah blahs about friendship, but either way, there's a good sentiment here. Cheers!

Remember to be smart and enjoy your own company above all others.

Precious


I came across the trailer for Precious a few months ago and was immediately drawn in. I remember being floored that a heavyset black girl was front and center and that Hollywood was even taking a gamble on such intense material. But hey, Obama is here, ain't he?

I read Push [the book the movie is based on] soon after, after reading countless reviews of the poignant tale. If you don't already know, Push tells the story of an overweight [practically illiterate] African-American teenager who is physically, sexually and every-other-which-way abused by both of her parents; and pregnant with her Father's 2nd child. Before, during and after reading the novel I felt uneasy. I was kind of afraid that the book [and subsequent movie] were being touted as a shock value piece and as a peek into the crazy shit that occurs behind some closed doors. Frankly, my recurring thoughts were "Well, what the fuck?!" [And this coming from someone who has experienced physical, emotional and mental abuse for almost two decades at the hands of my own parents.]

I'm still not sure what is meant to be learned from Push, which is why I was very hesitant to see the movie. Now I'm not an idiot. I realize that it's supposed to be about triumph and confidence and prevailing but -- I just don't feel it was conveyed clearly enough. I felt like you had to wade through a lot of bullshit to get to that point and by the end of the book I was just tired. Sure Push was graphic and shocking and uncomfortable but I felt like it was a little too much of that, and not much of anything else. I also felt that it was a bit gimmicky to burden this character with almost any and everything that humanity and [American] society deems undesirable. The fact that she was black, overweight, poor, meant nothing to me, I know that abuse like that exists anywhere, anyplace - but I must say, I did slightly resent the fact that those descriptors were used along with such a story because it felt so "typical". ["Well OF COURSE this would happen to a poor, BLACK girl..."] While it's possible that some people really do get the short end of the stick, it felt as if this character didn't get a stick at all, like she was just passed over. Good lord.

So after toiling over whether I should see the movie or not, I made a decision. And here is my review.*

I thought that the movie had its intense moments [my stomach churned a few times], but they were fleshed out with scenes from Precious' classroom environment and scenes where we saw her smile and laugh. The movie definitely made the whole concept of the book easier to bear. I found the classmates laugh out loud funny and although I found the teacher Blu Rain well acted by Paula Patton, I also found her to be too goody-goody in certain moments. Mariah as a social worker was alright. Yes, she was practically unrecognizable but her acting was okay. All she had to do was pull out was her Lawng Eye-lind accent from her youth and she was a-ok.

The film was well-made... knowledgeable enough for those of us who've been there [re: abuse, urban life, slang] to relate; yet wise enough so that those who haven't could also understand. I thought the movie rang true in quite a few ways: Precious' obsession with McDonald's, her incessant daydreaming, her refusal to give up her [2nd] baby, even her mother's reasons [excuses] for allowing sexual abuse and also partaking in it.

A question was raised as to what audiences would take away from this film. On more than a few occasions, I sat uncomfortably as the audience laughed during moments that weren't really funny. I felt as though most of the audience was laughing at her, in a mocking, disgusted way. I'm afraid that the reason they were doing so is a problem that's bigger than all of us. I was most impressed by Monique as Mary... she did an excellent job and I was enthralled by her performance in every scene she was in, despite how ferocious or how ugly. It brought me back to some ugly memories of my own. And her final monologue was so excellent that before I knew it, I was crying. And I cried and cried and cried until the credits rolled and the lights came on.

I really enjoyed Precious despite the [let's be honest here] hard material, and I actually want to see it again [mostly because I missed the first 10 minutes...]!

*I understand that having written this review I am welcoming criticism and comments, but you know I never fear that. Bring it and bring it well.