Friday, January 21, 2011

instant forgiveness.

I'm taking an acting class this semester, and so far it's been fascinating. Every day I walk in not knowing just what to expect. We're learning body movements and getting to know the stage, and becoming (very) comfortable with each other. Yesterday we made a jungle gym with our bodies while our 6'4 professor climbed on top of us over to the other side. This was after we played a vigorous game of tag, so everyone was leaning on each other in a big sweaty hot pile.

We also played a game of passing a ball from person-to-person in a predetermined set pattern where we keep adding more balls so that there are several paths going on at once, and when there's 10~ balls for 20 people, it gets really confusing since every second, you're either catching OR throwing. Our professor Justin emphasized that in this game if you drop the ball or miss a throw, "you have to instantly forgive yourself". He noted that especially since you're part of this bigger game and indispensable, you can't feel embarrassed, become angry, or however you may react to this "failure". He mentioned that while performing, if you mess up, you are the only person who will ever know. Everyone else will have no clue until you show it by turning red in the face, apologizing, stopping to catch yourself etc.

Also because we're doing all these activities where we have to really be out there & make ourselves vulnerable, he reminded us that our mistakes are simply going to evaporate and be forgotten every time we make them. He said: you can't go, "oh my gosh, I am so embarrassed I did that, I can never see these people again, I'm going to drop this class and drop out of college..." See how ridiculous it sounds when you verbalize it? But that's how we think sometimes- that everyone is watching and judging and remembering all the little mistakes we make, but really?

Make mistakes, instantly forgive yourself.

In my yoga class, after a difficult pose where everyone is twisting their bodies and grunting, panting, our yoga instructor reminds us to "forget what just happened. Repeat on other side". She hinted that the key to being a yoga-master (there must be a better term) is to have a bad memory, and simply not remember how difficult something was last time you did it.

Of course, bigger mistakes may not be forgotten by yourself or others, but that's why we have(my friend actually gave me one of these long time ago):
Body washes that will wash away your sins for you.

Well, but seriously, forgiving yourself may be the hardest thing to do, but it's often the most important task. (See lessons in acting; yoga;)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

current reading: and the band played on.

I am in Houston & back at school!

Saturday night, C picked me up from the airport, and we had a super late breakfast-dinner at IHOP where I humiliated him by starting to eat my eggs with my hands before the server went off to grab the utensils. It's nice being back! It's even nicer coming back to a suite full of laughter and homemade tamales, courtesy of suitemate B's grandma.

Over the winter break, I checked out "And the Band Played On" by Randy Shilts, which was mentioned in my immunology class last semester.  I thought (hoped) it would be a thin paperback book, but the 600-something hardcover book barely fit in my purse.

So far, I'm less than half way through, but it's fascinating to read through the development and discovery of AIDS. According to the book, AIDS spread rapidly because of the prominent practices of bathhouses and clubs in the San Francisco scene among the gays, and because the patients displayed vastly different pathological symptoms as result of their weakened immune system, it was difficult for the doctors to make the connection and see that the disease was caused by a common virus. In addition, because the disease was common among the gay population (even called Gay Related Immune Deficiency in the beginning) and the media preferred not to write on this subset of people, there was few interest among the researchers who would rather focus on diseases that received heavier media spotlight.

My first response in hearing about AIDS and its emergence in SoCal/NYC was how frightening and confusing it must have been for a disease to be linked to a behavior, especially one that is constantly shunned and ostracized in society. I mean, as the book mentions many times, pathogens are color, race, sexuality, gender-blind. I can only imagine all the "told-you-so's" and the "God's punishing you" finger pointings that happened while the origin of the disease was being investigated. Isn't this crazy though?, that a disease can be linked to some common-behavioral population? Imagine if a disease broke out among the liberals, or people who slept on their back or... ate yogurt with their forks. It'd be difficult not to read into such interesting happenings.

Initially, I thought the title was about the enduring nature of humans even through the disease, but I read that the title was referring to how the band continued playing on the sinking Titanic ship.

What I found even more interesting was that Randy Shilts, who was gay himself, wrote the book while he was tested for AIDS, and postponed finding out the results until he finished the book. He did indeed find out that he was HIV-positive, and later died of the very complications he wrote about in the book, pneumocystis c. pneumonia and Kaposi's sarcoma.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

zappp laser pointers.

I gave a big presentation for one of my classes this semester and had to use a long wooden stick to point to my slides since I couldn't find a laser pointer. When I came home, Umma presented me with my very own laser pointer, which I promptly played with for the next three days. I pointed at the buildings across the street, on the walls, on trees, and at little objects all over the house, fascinated.

I was amazed that I had this great weapon/tool in my hand because wait, wouldn't it be dangerous if I were to aim it at, say a building far away, or a helicopter or even an airplane? I was surprised that laser pointers are completely legal in the U.S. considering how incredibly annoying these can be, when someone is pointing on you in the library and you have no idea who or where, and how potentially dangerous these are...

 Staring at Car Staring at Cat Staring by Steve Bishop,
 if you've ever seen/taken a picture of a cat in the dark.

Currently, laser pointers are banned in New South Wales of Australia, and a laser assault can lead to 14-year-imprisonment. In the U.S. there is an ongoing debate on whether laser pointers should be banned following several incidents where laser pointers were pointed at aircrafts, temporarily blinding the pilots. This is obviously a bad idea to blind someone who is controlling a metal weighing hundred tons in the air, and you can be traced back to pointing the laser. 

Lately in the news, a man in Winter Park, Florida was sentenced with 20 years(!) in prison for pointing his laser at a helicopter. Over this weekend in Fort Myers, two teenagers shone light on a sheriff helicopter, damaging the officers' eyes (ruptured blood vessels), committing a second degree felony. In one (another Florida) case in 2005, a man aiming a laser pointer at deputies was shot on suspicion he was using a laser-sighted weapon.

It's like I have this potential felony/arrest/imprisonment weapon in my hands! I promise to use this only for good and educational/demonstrative purposes.

In other news, I have been playing mom, helping little bro with homework and school projects, and waking up at 6:45 to take little bro to school & packing his lunch (with meticulous detail on how to spread the mustard and how many slices of meat)...