The Innovation of Loneliness

•August 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen

I write.

•June 29, 2013 • Leave a Comment

kafka“I write differently from what I speak, I speak differently from what I think, I think differently from the way I ought to think, and so it all proceeds into deepest darkness.”
– Franz Kafka

Thoughts on security, ataraxia, and a homeland shooting.

•June 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

wireIt is in the young hours after the day of the Santa Monica shooting rampage that I find myself unable to sleep. My inability to sleep is for a multitude of reasons, but my thoughts of the day’s events not far do thus contribute.

Six people, not far from what I’ve called home had their lives cut short today. Their memories, potentials, and current endeavors eradicated from existence. A longtime question of psychologists and thoughtful minds alike, is, “what exactly goes on in a murderer’s mind?” I am not a human behaviourist, and I did not end up pursuing my original major of Psych. Therefore, my humble fascination with the mind can not give a scientifically backed answer. I can, however, give my take, and that is that these actions are based on a distorted interpretation of the individual’s background. This is not meant to sound completely nurture-based. The idea is that the given  interpretation is propagated from biological makeup. Adrian Raine, author of “The Anatomy of Violence” (worth a read!), explains that there is alarming evidence that killers possess an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Known as the CEO of the brain, the prefrontal cortex is responsible for emotion, temperament, problem solving, and complex thought. In the end, the concept of murder may not be as complex as it is made out to be. It may very well boil down to what that individual perceived to be acceptable.

This all can be a scary thought, as this would prove that murderous tendencies are expected amongst the vast array of populace. Risk is taken with the act of living. It is common to overlook this and try to identify relevant characteristics in a situation, so that one may learn to avoid them. The Stoics, who dominated the ancient school of thought, preached ataraxia in an unpredictable world. If emotions are governed, anxiety is limited. Nevertheless, even with a peaceful mind, tragedies will happen, especially with technological advancements.

It is a natural assumption that a left-leaning citizen would be absolutely opposed to any form of artillery, much less civilian owned guns. A gun is, in fact, an apparatus for obliterating a living organism. That is putting aside whether the shot was for murder or protection. The full make up of a gun is designed to end a life. Achieving this of course, depends on the shooter and his or her intentions. A gun can not achieve its purpose without a human pulling its trigger. However, it is with guns that an unarmed victim finds his life arbitrarily obliterated without chance of a winning fight. It is the frustration in this last statement that a somewhat-liberal such as I, can not fully deny sane, law-abiding citizens a chance to protect themselves, should they choose to do so.

This brings me to the idea of general security. With a largely populated country, comes larger security. I believe the problem is in the inability to distinguish security from safety and liberty. Safety is an impossible dream for a large country. Government responds to safety breaches by creating greater security through diminished liberty.

A current example is the fuss about phone companies providing the NSA with metadata about the duration of calls and to whom the calls were made. This, coupled with internet surveillance, is an invasion of privacy, especially if one  believes that knowing the duration of a phone call is a stepping stone to more wiretapping. Security is a complicated ground where officials may feel that sacrifices must be made in the name of safety. The history of under-achieving, overly-sanguine surveillance programs is a great one. The most recent being accepted as an erroneously temporary one. It is a sad state, to say the least. However, I’m sure the public will reach the even more elaborate consensus that this is all to stalk their mundane yahoo chat exchanges, their 30 minute conversations with their mothers, or the 90 minute breathing-into-the-phone exchanges with their significant others. It bears mention that corporations collect consensual data that can be sold and used against an individual, long before unwarranted non-egregious data can be used.

An Ostentatious Library

•February 9, 2013 • Leave a Comment

bookescape“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote 

And then there were books.

I always saw reading as an activity best done in isolation. It’s not exactly an activity that requires much interaction with others. However, there is much interaction with text. Once thought to be unprecedented feelings and experiences quickly become strange connections to someone you have not met that gives eloquence to the very thought you were sure only you held.

I have enough books to fill up 3 and a half average sized bookshelves. I’ve realized most of my spending over the years has gone to this ever-growing collection and unfortunately my closet has suffered because of this. But the money spent is not the part that bothers me. Rather, it’s the fact that I have this nasty habit of bookmarking. I buy a book, obsess over it, read a few chapters, and insert a card that promises to hold my place for a more convenient time. That time never arrives, because I am quickly reminded of another subject I wish to explore and thus another card that promises to hold my place is created. I’m not sure when this habit was started, but it went on for years. I collected quite an eclectic library. One year I received a comment on this from someone that didn’t think much of my intellect. It drew attention to fact that these half-read books made my shelf seem pretentious, random, and flat out ostentatious. I am an individual who values her eclectic passions and feeling as if my passions were under attack made me vow to never buy another book until I read every single book I possess.

booksIt’s been a journey.  I read feverishly as a child and adolescent and somewhere along the way I got caught up in the simple world, forgetting all I am fascinated by. It’s been 2 years since I have started this project, and I still have a ways to go. (And I do, admit, I cracked and purchased 2 short books.)

But thanks to this project, I’ve rekindled a passion long lost to unfounded feelings of incompetence. For this alone, I am immensely thankful.

lovebooks

Among the Lessons Learnt, is a Lesson in Selectiveness.

•December 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment

This year I decided to post my end of the year musings for my close friends on Facebook. You may find my post there. That being said, there are plenty more musings for the coming year.

Goodbye 2012. You were a great teacher.

2013

The Joys of Commercialism and Difference

•December 25, 2012 • Leave a Comment

HolidayzThe season of love and giving. Many people wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if there were no holidays during the winter. In many ways the “Holiday Season” is what brings us all together to reminisce and reconnect, to share stories of the year gone by, and to cherish the time we have with one another. It’s also a time when we celebrate our faiths. Whatever those may be. Jesus qua God qua Father Christmas seems to be the entity that holds this season and everything in it together. It’s a time of prayer, hope and above all good will towards men.

Unfortunately, it’s also a time of hurt feelings and offended people. Not everyone was brought up the same way, and we don’t prescribe to the same version of “holiday etiquette” or acumen. Not all of us come from the same milieu. Some of us are well off. Some of us are struggling. Some of us are thinking of what to get others. Some of us are wondering where the next meal will come from. Some of us believe in Christmas. Some of us believe in Chanukah. Some of us only believe in family. And in the midst of all these differences is spending and commercialism. The cards, the gifts, the phone bills, the airline tickets, the parties.

But does all this really construe all that is wrong with the world? Or does the fact that so many people find this all repugnant, try to inculcate only what each of us deems apropos. Have we really come to expect so much during this holiday season, that we get offended by a “Season’s Greetings” sign outside an Italian restaurant. “Why didn’t they just say Merry Christmas?!”, one scoffs. “Why did they assume I celebrate Christmas?!” says the Pagan. Why does receiving a holiday card in the mail surprise some of us now?! We even scold ourselves with “why didn’t I think of that?! It must be this Satan’s Web (AKA the internet) zapping me out of the real world!”

And while so many of us are glad to have this time of year to relax and take a break from work, some people are thankful for the work and inspiration this season brings them. All the toys, the electronics, the inventions of new ways to connect, the products that took years to concoct, the useless ingenuities that are created solely to bring one joy…all of this put food on someone’s table and a smile on someone’s face. All of this vilified “commercialism” and “difference” that offends so many holiday advocates is precisely why these holidays should exist…

To remind you that this world isn’t about you and what you believe/expect. It’s about all of us keeping each other alive.

Happy Holidays.

Remembering Tony.

•August 21, 2012 • 1 Comment

Tony Scott, directing in his famous vest and pink hat.“The biggest edge I live on is directing. That’s the most scary, dangerous thing you can do in your life….It’s the fear of failing, the loss of face and a sense of guilt that everybody puts their faith in you and not coming through….The true strength of rock climbing is in the head, not the body…. It’s controlling the fears I do while I’m directing.”

Director, Tony Scott is known to the public for his popular, box office hits. To others, as a loving little brother, a husband, a father. And to some, a dream maker.

November, 2004. I was doing what any other young girl who was born in the city of glitz and glamour was doing; pursuing acting. No? Is this not what everyone else does here? I thought it was. But I didn’t let the fact that everyone else was dreaming discourage me. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I had been taking classes, doing shorts or student films, and had been auditioning like crazy. When I learned I was going to be in Tony Scott’s new film, Domino, I was ecstatic. I rushed to Chapman University to tell my aspiring director friend, Joe the news. “I don’t have any lines,” I said, “but I’m going to be on camera with Keira Knightley! This is my first big movie!!!….by the way, who is Tony Scott?” “Are you f%#&ing kidding me?! Top Gun?! Enemy of the state?!” This sad little problem associating names in Hollywood eventually became a recurring theme in my “career”. So I decided I needed to do my homework. But like all homework, I put it off, and the morning of the shoot, I could only list a few titles and facts. Did I really need to know this for a 1 to 2 day shoot with no lines? Probably not. But I still felt unprepared when I arrived on location.

It was a warm day for November in the shaded streets of Downtown LA. There were so many people. I couldn’t imagine what each of them must be assigned to do. It looked like they must have hired 10 people for every small piece of equipment. I looked around, lost, and confused, knowing I had to get dressed and made up. “You want to go to the honey wagon.” A girl told me who introduced herself as Holly. I still remember her name and her black hair with green eye shadow. She was quite pretty but very sweet. I made sure to stick by her for the rest of the shoot, as she taught me the ins and outs of a day’s work. I was dressed in a gorgeous black and white dress. My make up was done. And I was a model. I felt beautiful. I interacted with so many people, I didn’t know who I was not to talk to in those days. I was still fresh. Full of questions. Empty of shame.

When I saw the pink cap and the vest, I thought, is this guy going fishing? I went up to him and shamelessly (but sweetly) asked “so am I attacking in this scene or what?” He laughed. I giggled. I asked more nonsensical questions and he entertained me despite being overwhelmingly busy. I got the sense he didn’t care if you were Keira Knightley, Keira Dazi, or the homeless man that was invited to some craft services. He had the same warmth towards everyone regardless of what you could do for him. At one point I asked him if the pimple on my forehead was going to ruin the movie. Knightley said it wasn’t noticeable and shot a compliment. Is this really happening? Am I really here? I wasn’t starstruck. I was just…filled with hope. I shared my jitters, and was told I’d do fine and that we were about to start again. And with that I got a warm smile and a friendly wink.

Now it’s 2012. I’m doing other things now. The years in hollywood jaded me, and I used to look back on my first days on a big set and laugh that this could induce such excitement and intensity. I got small roles in Music Videos, 7th Heaven, Dexter, and other things; either as a coffee waitress or some other unnoticeable role. In most of the music videos, you were lucky if you saw my red hair flipping around. I learned who you are not supposed to talk to unless spoken to, how to behave on set, how to not mingle with the complainers lest you be thrown in with the cattle… I became self conscious about my face. My voice. My body. I became cynical. Negative. I thought I knew it all and that there was no more to learn. I grew ashamed of wanting to act. I was afraid of sounding ordinary. Everyone is an actor in LA. I got jobs behind the camera. I read scripts for producers. I slowly moved away from the frontlines, until I broke away from the business completely. I also fell in love with a boy and it took me to the opposite coast for awhile only to return to a cold city of memories and an abandoned and failed acting career. So I left. I moved to San Francisco. And then to France. Filled with new worries, new adventures, new memories. I forgot all that came before.

Cynicism is a stage of fear. It’s the point where your nerves have had time to mature without control and eventually propagate apathy. Tony Scott controlled his fears in Hollywood with the same precision as he controlled his fears when climbing rocks.

I wonder, like some, if he regretted jumping. I witnessed a man jump off the Golden Gate in my last days in San Francisco. I could see he regretted it in the way he twisted his body before hitting water. But would Tony regret jumping? Reports say he jumped without hesitation. What ever pushed him to it, I don’t think fear had any part.

In the video below you will find his brother, Ridley Scott’s first film, which Tony stars in. Please pay close attention to what he says exactly 20 minutes into the short. I imagine he is young again right now and is zipping around in this same landscape, on his bicycle.

And so as others remember him for his movies, this girl with an interminable inability to associate names, will remember him as the winky, smiling face in a pink hat saying “You’ll do fine”….

R.I.P. Tony Scott. ❤

The Year Behind…

•December 31, 2011 • 1 Comment

New Years Eve is a time when people reflect on the year’s memories. We take inventory of our successes and failures; our moments of glory and sadness. What could we have done differently? What could we improve? What are we glad turned out the way it did in the end? New Years Eve is not just about the year that’s coming to an end. But also about the year that lies ahead. It’s a time where no goal seems unattainable, and no dream seems delusional.

The picture to the right was posted early this year. It was in hopes that this year would bring love, happiness, and adventure. The year began on a rooftop patio over looking the San Francisco Bay. I was with my special someone and we had champagne glasses in our hands, prepared to toast to the New Years fireworks that were to light up over the Golden Gate Bridge. But when the clock struck midnight, we were let down. The fireworks were on the other side of the house, facing the Bay Bridge. We were missing the show. I suggested we run outside to catch them. But it was raining. Hard. And my special someone didn’t want anything but to go back inside and stay there. I ran out to the street, determined to catch them alone. But I missed them.

And so began 2011.

I was dumped in a brutal way in January, as many know. What some don’t know, is I stuck around to make it work, before being left for an ex girlfriend from a decade ago…a la “The Notebook”. It’s a humiliating confession to make, but many forget their own humiliations when they slowly shake their heads. I got myself in a tangled mess I’m immensely ashamed ever happened. I confided things in people that I shouldn’t have, I said things I didn’t mean, I fell into a deep denial, my words were twisted, and I lost a few friends I really cared about. I’m not sharing this for pity, as I did, in fact, put myself in these circumstances. (Like most of my predicaments that stem from my poor decisions.)

When I was finally shattered, beaten and had burned myself alive enough, I met a new friend in San Francisco, who offered a spare room in Saint-Etienne, France. I had family all over Europe, that I had never met, so I entertained the thought. At that same time, an old friend mentioned he and his family were traveling to Germany that same week, and being that they worked for United, I would be able to fly with them first class for $180. These were all the signs I needed. I threw all my stuff in storage, and said a few hysterically sloppy goodbyes, and hopped on to my First class, non-stop flight to Europe.

France was surreal. I saw some of the most beautiful landscapes and drank some of the finest wine. But best of all, I made some of the best friends of my life. The experiences through France, Italy and Spain were more than memorable. It wasn’t just an average trek through Europe. I lived in every piece of land I stepped on. The blazingly romantic sun beating down on the cobble stone streets; the fresh sea breezes from the Bay of Biscay; the ever present guitar strumming mysteriously alluring beats in every alley, every bridge pass, every seemingly unclaimed road… But most of all, the great fortune of meeting my family I had heard about for all my life and never met.

The adventures ended in Germany, where I was finally able to finish a book I had been reading for 3 years; “The Book of Laughter and Forgetting” by Milan Kundera. The book is a bunch of intertwined stories of private longings and nostalgias during a time of oppression. It’s a book that explores the 7 aspects of human existence. The book ends with a story of absurdity, and depicted how easily humans forget. Not just details, facts or even happy moments; But also, tragedy and the way a particular significant event or emotion felt. Already, San Francisco and all that came before it felt like another life time.

While I don’t believe all things happen for a reason anymore, I am ceaselessly amazed at the magic of cause and effect. The domino effect always has a way of making me glad things turned out the way they did. Had any piece of the year been missing, things could have headed in an entirely different direction. And it is this very thing that comforts me by allowing me to believe that no matter which way things go, good things are always ahead.

May 2012’s dominos lead you all to much love, happiness and adventure….as 2011 brought me.

It’s All Politics

•October 9, 2011 • 1 Comment

I love how upon telling someone I was raised in OC, they almost always assume & say, “Oh, you must be a Republican then.” I’m actually quite glad that my parents weren’t into the American political scene while I was growing up. Although a slow process, it allowed me to form my own American opinions without being (even lightly) influenced by my family’s standing or that of my city’s. If anything, having parents from overseas allowed me to see the greater scope of things & appreciate our areas of great advancement as well as develop an attention to our areas where we are still very much behind. Perhaps this is what makes me a little more of a “stinkin’ liberal”, as some say.

I was recently in the middle of a group discussion, and one guy exploded with rage and insults when the issue of the exploitation of undocumented workers came up. His stand was that economies need exploitation in order to prosper. Perhaps he could have worded it differently? Lowered his voice? Not namecall? I calmly mentioned my belief that economies do, in fact, need gardeners, dishwashers, hairstylists, and wall painters. I said this in an attempt to calm him down and hopefully draw out that this is what he meant. It wasn’t, and he only got crazier at the table when we disagreed with what he seemed to be saying.

I see too many Americans with obsessive political convictions, to the point where they sound like you are attacking their religious beliefs or worse yet, their Identity. They are so set on one way, they don’t even acknowledge that we are all aiming for the same results: Freedom & Equality. We all agree something needs to be done about the Economic situation (and all of it’s spawned issues). We all agree our schools need improvement. We all (hopefully) agree our Health care system sucks. We all just have different views on fixing these issues. One political party may hold more of the solutions you would like to see executed, so you tend to identify with this party more. Or maybe you don’t identify with any party and have mixed views. We all have different priorities. Some might favor freedom over equality, and visa versa. But we all, to some degree, want both. You may disagree with the way another candidate or group wants to handle a particular situation. Or you may even just like things the way they are… SO VOTE. Get out there and support your cause. Go volunteer or protest to your reps. At the end of the day, we’re all Americans, and we want the same things. Liberty and equality. So please, don’t assume, don’t label, and don’t mindlessly criticize other people who’s opinions differ from yours. Be your own person and don’t let yourself fall into whatever your family or partner votes for. Don’t sit there posting FB status messages calling everyone who doesn’t vote for Ron Paul an idiot PLEASE. I’m happy you have you’re own opinions, and that you are willing to exercise the 1st amendment.

Just please, be respectful.

And don’t pound on tables.

 

On that note, I leave you with this hilarious video. (Turn off music on the right if you haven’t already done so.)

Here’s 2 dudes who both believe in Jesus having a huge fight in the quad:

Please don’t be the dude in the mustard jacket. Thanks. 🙂

In Comparison…

•September 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I come across people who have lost everything. Their homes, their cars, their memories. Then I hear of people that have lost their families, their friends, their loved ones. An old friend of mine even knows someone who’s (obviously clinically insane) wife shot their children while he was overseas. I hear these stories, and I can’t help but wonder how they survived through this. How they picked up the pieces and moved on.

Picked up the pieces. That’s an odd term we use in English. But it does try every bit to describe the seemingly phenomena that comes thereafter.

We are taught to not compare in life. To not compare ones looks, nor ones talents, nor ones riches (or lack thereof). That it will either spawn feelings of inferiority or arrogance. And yet when one is in depression, for what ever series of minuscule things lost… It is encouraged to compare ones series of misfortunes to that of those who have it far worse. Somehow, these types of comparisons are considered acceptable in society.

I saved my laptop today.

Today was a good day.