(Top 101) #29. When Love Breaks Down – Prefab Sprout

October 31, 2010

So you had the Hatfield vs. the McCoys, the Montagues vs. the Capulets, and Debbie Gibson vs. Tiffany. But add this new one to the list of the most tumutuous rivalries of all time: the poetry writers vs. the prose writers. There was a showdown at my writers’ group this afternoon, and well, it wasn’t pretty (headache, headache).

Basically, here’s how it went down. One of our members, a lady who’s a prolific poet, submitted five of her poems to be read and discussed for today’s workshop. This is within the group’s guidelines (you can submit up to five things as you don’t go over the total word count of 3,500), but quite a few of the members aren’t really too keen on poetry overall (personally, I don’t mind poetry, and I write it once in a while myself, but certainly, my heart’s more in novels and stories), so submitting five fairly lenghty poems was… well, let’s just say it took chutzpah, for sure.

So we started discussing the poems one by one. The first one, about three or four of the twelve or so members today made comments. The second one, maybe one or two members had anything to say. At this point, the lady was clearly annoyed and asked why people were remaining silent and not offering any feedback. Obviously, an awkward moment. Then it got worse. One of the quiet members commented that he found it tough to come up with things to say for all five poems, which pressed on the lady’s nerves even more. The day’s moderator, no shrinking violet in the speak-your-mind category, said something about how much more difficult it was to come up with constructive comments on poetry as opposed to prose, and by then the lady poetess had turned from defensive to downright angry (“Don’t put words in my mouth and tell me I’m angry!” she said, angrily).

Around this time, I offered up the point that there tended to be less feedback on poetry submissions overall so she shouldn’t take the “silence” personally, but I think by then she just didn’t want to hear it. Then another member pointed out two of the five submissions had been submitted before, and it seemed to him that she didn’t seem to have taken into consideration the feedback she had received before, and that’s why he was silent. Well, a few moments and a few more back-and-forths later, the lady got up and walked out of the meeting.

So it was definitely a memorable workshop, but also a really unpleasant one to watch take place. I don’t know; I totally get why the member was frustrated, but at the same time, you can’t really demand feedback from people who for whatever reason feel reluctant to give it. And when the members were explaining their reasons for not giving the feedback, they were really just being honest. I don’t know. It was just a bit too much drama Project Runway-style (I really wonder what the three new members thought of all of it), especially after having to deal with my aunt’s medical saga and the prima donna antics of certain choir members (at least I know that ego clashes in group situation are certainly not culture-specific).

Overall, it was all a big communication breakdown, I think, which is a shame as we’re all there to take part in something that we love: writing. So can’t we writers all just get along? I sure hope so. In that spirit, I dedicate this song to our group:

29. When Love Breaks Down – Prefab Sprout

(Top 101) #30. Crazy – Andy Bell

October 30, 2010

Thank you, Jesus, Buddha, Allah, Mother Mary, and all other deities. My aunt (and by extension, my other aunt and I) is out of the hospital and back home. Just in time, too. I was going stir-crazy inside my mind, and if we had to stay a few days longer, they probably would’ve moved me over to the psychiatric ward. But now no need.

But it’s the funniest thing. Once I got my aunt settled back at her home and I came back to mine, I felt completely at a loss on just what to do now. For weeks now, my life had been a whirling cycle of choir pratices and dashing back and forth between the hospital room and my aunt’s room to feed the dogs while fitting in my tutoring sessions and firing off resumes to various universities to teach at next year. But to actually have a day, a whole day at last, to spend doing whatever I wanted, it actually felt more odd and unsettling than anything else, really.

After putting in a load of backed-up laundry and checking my e-mail (ooh, my first university interview’s been scheduled for Nov. 9th), I basically just crashed out on my bed and holed up with my Cowon S9 video player to watch episodes of the following:

The Amazing Race (Never really watched this show before–I turned in mostly to see the KevJumba guy–and I’ve gotta say, What a cool show!)

America’s Next Top Model (Cheering for Ann, and I thought I was socially awkward!)

The Office (Still uneven, but still pretty cool, and it was great to see Jan back in all her whacked-out ice queen glory)

Glee (The whole Rocky Horror Picture Show episode left me more confused more than anything else, and I have a feeling watching the movie wouldn’t have helped very much)

Project Runway (I’ve gotta say, I was pretty much blown away by the winner, and NOT in a good way)

The Apprentice (These aspiring businesspeople seem to be bigger and bitchier divas than the girls on Top Model, the Donald included!)

The Apprentice UK (I’m actually enjoying this more than the American version; the Lord Sugar guy has a no-nonsense style that I like instead of Mr. Trump’s mean, self-aggrandizing, oh-look-at-me-and-bow nonsense)

The Jersey Shore (I don’t know, this guilty pleasure is turning into a guilty bore; I think, as Sammi would say about Ron for the umpteenth time, “I’m done.”)

Hoarders (Remains the most horrific yet psychologically fascinating show I’ve ever seen)

Teach: Tony Danza (Anybody else watch this? I highly recommend it for anyone who’s taught kids or interested in teaching. As Tony finds out all too quickly, it sure isn’t easy)

Television. It may indeed be opium for the masses. But sometimes, it can also entertain you and keep you from turning… (cueing killer dance track)…

30. Crazy – Andy Bell

(Top 101) #31. Sexyback – Justin Timberlake

October 20, 2010

Okay, let’s talk about sex, like Salt N’ Pepa. On last week’s episode of “The Office,” the cast went around making a list of sex’s pros and cons (Kevin asserted that the pros of “It feels unbelievable” and “It feels amazing” were absolutely different and needed to be listed separately). I wish I was there to raise my hand and add one more pro: It’s a way to prove to yourself that you’re alive, truly alive, oh my God yeah just like that, ALIVE!

Perhaps an anecdote will help. There I was at Seoul National University Hospital a few nights ago helping to take care of my aunt (truth be told, I don’t really do much of anything except heat up her stomach pads in the microwave once in a while). My aunt was asleep, and I went outside to go use the restroom. It was really late, so the hallways were pretty deserted, and as I hurried to the restroom (I really had to go), an orderly passed by with a stretcher followed a lady who was quietly crying.

When I got to the urinal and started doing my business, it hit me. The stretcher was draped over with a cloth. Somebody was dead under there. It was the first time I had ever been in close vicinity with a dead body. And it felt… well, truly morbid, which makes sense, because I think of the word “morbid” as meaning “reminiscent of death,” and what in the world is going to remind you more of death than death itself? I felt weird, I felt chilled, I felt bad for that poor lady… But you know what I sure as heck DIDN’T feel? I didn’t feel sexy. At. All. Why? Because sex is all about the feeling of being alive, feeling the sensation of all the atoms in your being set in motion. Let’s let Justin bring it all back:

31. Sexyback – Justin Timberlake

(Top 101) #32. Silence (Remix) – Sarah Mclachlan+Delerium

October 20, 2010

Husband: Honey, hear that? They’re playing my song.
Wife: But I can’t hear anything, honey.
Husband: Exactly.

I can’t remember what movie or book I got that scene from, but what I do remember is that the sentiment sure struck home. Sometimes, you need silence. And sometimes, you need solitude. And there are times when you need music that feels like you have both. Sound like a paradox? Perhaps, but when you’re listening to this song, it’s easy to imagine you’re all alone in a world of your design where it’s you that controls all the beats and sounds. To put it simply, it takes you away. Maybe back to yourself.

32. Silence (Airscape Remix Edit) – Sarah Mclachlan+Delerium

(Top 101) #33. Dance Hall – Pras

October 20, 2010

Oh, the joy of waking up in one’s bed without being woken up by a nurse doing her rounds. The joy of eating whatever the hell I want (hello, pizza and sweet and sour pork!). The joy of not having to go through lyrics in my head and dreading the prospect of messing up…

It’s a joy-filled morning of a joy-filled day, and I just feel like dancing around my room and pretend I’m a badass. And I know just the perfect song…

33. Dance Hall – Pras+Sean Paul+Spraga Benz

The Show Must Go On…

October 15, 2010

Oh, to breathe again. It’s been a pretty hectic time for the last few weeks, and this feels like the first moment I’ve had in some time to just… oh, what do you call it… relax. I’ve been gearing up for a big annual choir concert—TOMORROW night, yikes—and it hasn’t been quite as harmonious as I would’ve liked (bad pun intended). Mix a spazzing-out director (he’s told us he’ll be quitting if we receive bad feedback after the concert; gee, no guilt trip there!), petty squabbles, diva attitudes, bruised egos, brain freezes while memorizing lyrics to 15+ songs, and it’s just been really stressful. Seriously, as of now, I just want to get through it without any of the following taking place: 1) My head exploding, 2) Not making any embarrassing mistakes, especially during the small ensemble “Mamma Mia” choreography, and 3) Not end up punching out anybody, especially the two assholes in my bass section that make Madonna and Jennifer Lopez seem low-maintenance.

In addition to all the not-so-GLEEful choral drama, my aunt is back in the hospital, so I’ve been doing the whole Florence Nightingale bedside routine again. It’s nowhere as serious as last time, thank God; basically, she’s been throwing up a lot for weeks, and it turns out pockets of gas have gotten stuck in her stomach, so the food isn’t going through properly. So they’ve put up a hose through her nose down to her stomach, and hooked her up to an IV, and basically, she needs to not eat anything and walk around the hospital halls as much as she can until the gas finally blows through. My aunt’s lost quite a bit of weight, and she’s thin to begin with, so that’s obviously not good, but yesterday, the doctor (the same nice one who did the cancer operation last year!) told us the gas has finally started to “move,” so hopefully, she’ll be good and gas-free before too long. As for me, I just want to get tomorrow night over with so I can exhale a bit. But until then, the show must go on, and I’ve just gotta keep up right with it.

The Show Must Go On – Queen

EDIT: Taking the subway to the concert site, I wondered if after the concert, my exhaustion, resentments, and sick-and-tiredness-of-my-own-damn-voice would all go away, and as it turns out, that pretty much ended up being the case. The show went off about as well as could be expected (a couple of hitches here and there, but nothing major), and I succeeded in not embarrassing myself. I was pretty much petrified before we got up to the stage (the theatre was full with about 400 people), but once we started singing, it all went pretty naturally. I handled my solo part with aplomb; of course, it was also the Shortest Solo in the History of Choral Performances, literally one word: “Bravo!” Anyhow, it was a pretty cool night all around, especially with friends attending from my tennis club and my writing club, and as of this morning, I feel like I’ve completed “The Amazing Race.” And now, it’s time for the music to fade into the background as I bring the spotlight back on what means the most to me: my novel-to-be. Let the next chapter begin.

You Can Close Your Eyes (And Just Listen)…

October 5, 2010

My love for William Fitzsimmons continues to grow by leaps and bounds (apparently, I’m not alone; Michelle Kwan named him as one of her favorite singers in a recent interview!). Seriously, I could just listen to this cover forever and ever on an endless loop…

You Can Close Your Eyes (James Taylor Cover) – William Fitzsimmons