My feels for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Explained.

Someone call 911. I think I fangirled too hard and punctured a blood vessel!

I just watched the two trailers of The Second Best Marigold Hotel!

There are only two movies that I can call my ALL TIME FAVORITES, without hesitation:

1. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

2. Just Wright

Please don’t ask me why I numbered them because I actually don’t know why myself. They’re both number one! (Yes, it’s possible) Just Wright is a movie I can watch over and over again, and acquire the same set of emotions every time. It’s that good. I hear people feel differently about it, but hey; whatever! If you remember my tagline post, you’ll understand why TBEMH is very dear to my heart. I’m a sucker for chick flicks like all the Nicholas Sparks movies and Mean Girls, but these two movies are on a different level.

Anyways, I was at the movies with my best friend the other day and saw a familiar set of faces plastered on a huge poster. The Best Marigold Hotel? I immediately recommended the film, because well, to not do so is close to committing a social injustice. Then I wondered why it would just be hitting theaters now, if the movie has been out for like 3 years. My best friend brought it to my attention that it said “The SECOND Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I was confused, excited, and nearly falling apart inside. How could I have not known about this earlier?! My favorite movie has a part two!

Watching the trailers to this movie has got my emotions on high. IT LOOKS SO FREAKIN’ GOOD. I’m saving details for the time I see it in theaters (because waiting for it to come out on DVD would be torturous), so look out for a more in-depth review in the future. By just observing the trailer, I can already tell I will love it. I have high hopes and great expectations for the film. I’d be heartbroken if it lets me down. But, it would have to really suck to sway my emotions away.

I just absolutely love Sonny! The man cracks me up like no other, actually, they all have that effect on me. I am anxious to see him marry Sunaina because they’re a couple that I really admire. Ah! The feels I have as I write this post! I can’t wait to see the next journey the people of The Best Marigold Hotel will have. I’ll be sure to pack a box of tissues because the tears will flow and I hope they’ll be tears of pure laughter.

Sometimes it seems to me, that the difference between what we want and what we fear is a bit of an eyelash.


The Uproar on Cat-calling Explained.

I thought I could just sit back and keep my opinions to myself… but when does that ever work?

After the swarm of comments and rage about the 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman video has simmered down a bit, now is the best time to really go in on this topic. Now, this won’t be a research paper. I’m not going to break down any statistics, analyze race ratios, or break down the places she went to. However if you must, please refer to this. I want to talk about the underlying reason to why this video has caused so much controversy.

In the video, an actress by the name of Shoshana B. Roberts walked around the streets of New York where she was “cat-called” and “harassed” by various men. Before even clicking play, I knew where it was going. I knew the video was going to include men trying to catch a woman’s attention. I knew it was meant to go viral. I knew the kind of comments the video was going to receive. Every woman; intentionally or unintentionally, from New York or not, has experienced something similar to what Shoshana went through. Even if it wasn’t as open as “cat-calling”, you see the looks they give you. And as annotated in the video, there were various instances in which it did happen. But one of the main reasons so many are fussed about this clip is because of the terms associated to the situation: “Cat-calling” and “Harassment.” It’s a problem, because some people don’t believe what was said and done are actual issues or fit the terms stated.  In a sense, they are right. There is no problem with men calling a woman beautiful. There is no problem telling someone “God bless” or “have a nice day.” There is no problem giving someone a smile. There is no problem trying to start a conversation with people.

But to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with what’s going on in the video disturbs me, because you missed the message.

It is the intention that determines the action. Whether it was Shoshana, a blond-hair blue-eyed goddess, a plus-size beauty, or an oompa-loompa, it proves that your intention is not stimulated by the subject itself.  Whether she is fully clothed or half-naked, you have an image of what you want to see. You react to it. I get it though, certain situations will call for different stimulations. One might be more responsive to Adriana Lima in a bra and underwear than when she is in an oversized sweater, baggy sweatpants, and shades that hide half of her face.

Guys get a bad rep all the time when it comes to complimenting women because there’s this misconception that 100% of the time, they are just sweet-talking her to hit “Third Base.” It’s never going to be because they actually think someone is beautiful. When you watch the video and read the men-bashing comments, you see where it all comes from. Because if you just hear the statements said by the guys in the video, take it out of context and place it on a blank sheet of paper, they are just a set of words and simple phrases. They are harmless, positive statements. But how do we read the sentences in a book? How do we understand what someone is saying if we don’t get the sense in which they are coming from? How do you differentiate terms that have more than one meaning without a context? The context is found in the intention. So simply saying “hi” in its formal context of greeting someone is fine. Add some intent in getting their number to potentially stir up a steamy rendezvous to that simple “hi” and you get a whole different story.

Still don’t understand? Let me give you another example, in the form of sarcasm:

Your neighbor says, “Your mom’s cakes are delicious.”

What it means (the simple meaning): her baking skills are on point and she should put up her own bakery because her cakes are that good.

Sarcasm (with the intention of lying): your mom’s baking is complete trash and I want to barf up what I just ate. But we are friends and your home is literally right beside mine, so telling your mother the truth can potentially mean the end of our friendship… and death threats plastered on my door.

Sarcasm (with malicious, humorous intent): I don’t mean your mother’s baking skills. I’m not even talking about actual baked goods. I’m talking about her goods. Basically, your mom is really hot and I’d like a piece of her [body part].

Three different meanings, but the same phrase.

There are genuine men out there, but they are obviously not any of those in this video. A real man would know how to approach a female with respect. That one guy who says, “Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more” did not respect her. He followed up with, “for real?” as if the woman owed him something and he deserved to be responded to. The next man says, “God bless you mami” and checks out her butt like she was a piece of meat. Even with his face blurred out, we all know he was checking her out. May he find the true meaning of a blessing and I hope he knows the God he mentions. Oh, and let’s not forget the man in purple! “Hey look it there! I just saw a thousand dollars.” Really? How dare you. He not only deserves a major slap to the face, but a whole entire lecture of how wrong it is to put a price on a woman (or any person for that matter).

You better believe that I was pretty upset with the men in this video. I felt bad for the guys who are put into the same category as these idiots, just because they share the same anatomy! Some of you guys still give us hope. We know how it is to be generalized and ridiculed because of these horrible stereotypes. For the handful of us who still believe in things like chivalry and a good guy, we are cheering you on. And I urge you, on behalf of humanity, to teach these boys how to act like real men. As a female, I feel for Shoshana. Although she is an actress, she represents the women who are put in such situations (no matter one’s ethnicity, body size, or clothing choice). To be looked at or talked to in a particular way because you are a woman, is a problem that has been ongoing since before we were born. It is relevant and will always exist, because although the human mind has contributed to so many advances in our modern-day society, we cannot control the things that it creates. We don’t control someone’s mind. There is no flipping of the switch, but if there was, that person is responsible to exert any effort in making the light bulb work. As consumers, we are the decision makers. You have the freedom of choice in buying into a product (that is also the idea of its use and how you value it). Often times, we buy into the things we know isn’t particularly good. So, knowing that hollering at a woman is not a necessary good, but doing it anyway because of whatever reason, is a similar concept.

Now, let’s address the notion that “calling someone beautiful is not harassment.” You social media butterflies are right. But when you make someone uncomfortable, it is. Harassment Laws say that first degree harassment is “engaging in a course of conduct which places another person in reasonable fear of physical injury.” So, following a lady and trying to talk to her when she clearly doesn’t want to, is harassment. Since we can’t read each other’s mind, how the hell will you know that she isn’t in fear of physical injury? Exactly. To be seen as a threat is a close call to harassment. It’s best to just back off. Now, you can say it’s a kind of paranoia. We don’t know what you’re going to do, which is exactly why it is fear. If a woman engages you, and gives you the time of day, go for it. Maybe she is interested. But please ladies, make sure a ‘no’ means NO and don’t put these guys in a trap. If he violates you in any way, make it known that it is wrong; don’t wait until it escalates into something much bigger. Speak up and make sure that voice doesn’t go silent. Guys, respect a woman’s “NO” and don’t let it hurt your ego. If you were being a jerk, then you probably deserve it! But if she was being really weird, then it’s beneficial to you anyways. You’ll find someone better. Just give them the courtesy you would give the women in your family, because if a guy was to ever disrespect your mother or sister wouldn’t you be upset?  Let’s all practice what we preach.

Harassment is a major claim. It is not to be taken lightly, which is why others look at this video and roll their eyes. However, I think that the bigger message is to see the reality of harassment. It comes in so many forms and although it is not as serious as people think it is in this video, it expresses the gravity of much larger cases out there in the world. What about the cases where women are being pulled aside or groped? What about those who aren’t women, yet go through this? What about those who do go through severe cases of harassment? People can get ugly and most of the time a camera doesn’t capture it. A camera can’t reflect the actual fear a person feels. And here’s some food for thought: a camera shows you a certain thing it wants to reveal, where the person recording it has a choice of angle and subject. It’s a projection of already happened events, pre-recorded, edited, and uploaded for you to view. It is only one story, one point of view. Still, it allows you to question “what more?”

I’m a person who can come up with major come-backs. I’d like for everyone to know that if you catch me during the wrong time, my response could potentially hurt your feelings. So, let’s dive deeper to this notion of “silent” walking, because I definitely would have given some of these men a piece of my mind. Why couldn’t she have said something or the video be more responsive? Well, thanks to my analytical skills, I’ve come to a conclusion: Harassment is often put to the side. Not many report harassment, nor do people actually know they are victims of it. Harassment is silenced by our society. We don’t know what to do when it happens to us and we don’t know what it looks like when we are faced with it. It is tuned out, because “it’s not that bad” or is seen as a minor issue. There is simply not enough action being put forth to solving it. This video shows how insensitive people can be to an issue that is sensitive. I want to point out that I am not only talking about those in the video, but everyone commenting on it. It shows a wide array of people using words and action to target an individual who isn’t doing anything wrong. It makes you question how much longer until someone doesn’t have to feel like they are walking in silence? How much longer doesn’t it take for people to realize it is not just about women or the individual in this video, but those who are actually “cat-calling” or harassing them? Yes, Hollaback created a viral clip; but it isn’t just something you watch for entertainment… it’s to educate you. It is to provoke thought on the larger issue. It’s to help you realize that something is wrong. It makes you question everything else that the lens didn’t capture.

Final Reflection Explained

This is it. It’s the final days of this semester! And boy, it was one heck of a trip. Time really does fly by!  I can honestly say I’ve grown so much more this semester than any other in the past. With the help of some amazing professors and their classes , I was able to push my intellectual boundaries even further… and that’s what college is all about, right?

After blogging about the various American women writers, we were assigned to come up with a website for a particular one we were interested in. Without any hesitation, I joined the group for Zitkala-sa. Out of all the authors we read in class, she was the one I connected to most. She had such a different writing style and came from a background I was less familiar with, which stirred up my interest. When any professor mentions group work, I already know there would be eyes rolling around in classrooms. However, my group was such a pleasure to work with. Creating a website was no easy task!

It was my first time ever using the Wix platform and took a while to get familiar with it. I’m a techy kind of person and love trying to figure out the mechanics of sites, so the frustration was definitely a choice. Once I got the hang of it; adding pages choosing the theme, and all the general elements, putting the content together was easier.

Each section was split by the members of my group, and I was in charge of assembling most of the contents of the site. Besides site building, I was responsible for the sections: Zitkala-sa 101, Bright Feathers, and a scholarly work critique entitled A Fixation of the Native Identity, as well as a contributor in our quotes section. What surprised me most about this project was the amount of content we were all so eager to add. In doing our research for Zitkala-sa, we saw that she didn’t have a huge presence on the web. It was either small glimpses of her or only one section on a large-scale site. Our goal was to give Zitkala-sa her own home, where anything you can possibly know about Zitkala-sa was visible. We also wanted to leave our personalized touch with our quote analysis and scholarly critiques. This project helped me realize how important it is for our authors to have a presence to the public eye. Nowadays, everyone does their research on the internet, and the main purpose of it is to get instantaneous answers. It is important to let the audience know about the overall demographics of a writer, but to also enlighten them with ideas they cannot find on a simple “About Author” section.

I cannot take all the credit for this website. It was truly a group effort and I appreciate their cooperation and patience. We didn’t want to leave one person in charge of adding each content, so we tried to log in and add our own. However, we figured out that because there was more than one person logging on and saving… another member trying to save would have their content deleted. It was frustrating but we pulled through. Not one person’s section was any more important than the other. We saw how each tab was significant in knowing Zitkala-sa more. I think I speak for us all when I say we wanted to make the best website possible for Zitkala-sa. Adding the little extra artwork and transitions were time-consuming, but definitely worth it. I was very impressed with the work my group put in. They had thought-provoking content and completely poured their heart out on each section.

Writing for the public audience was scary. Just the simple fact that typing in Zitkala-sa’s name and having our site be one of the options they can click on sparks my adrenaline. It is a responsibility. Are we giving them what they are looking for? Is our content good enough? Are we giving Zitkala-sa justice? These are some of the questions that popped into my mind during this project. We needed to make sure our sources were credible. There must be more facts than mere opinion. At the end of the day, we are trying to shine light on the author and not only us. It was interesting to switch the mentality of research a bit. Was this something I would be looking for when conducting research? If the answer was yes to every section our group made, then our purpose was well served. I believe that our website is the best web presence out there for Zitkala-sa. That’s not because I am biased, but because I know that the work contributed by my fellow group-mates is noteworthy. All aspects of Zitkala-sa has been covered. Zitkala-sa was very passionate about preserving her traditions and ensuring the voice of her people be heard. We wanted to be the ones who allowed her voice to resonate. It was finally Zitkala-sa’s turn to be heard.

What I appreciate most about this American Women Writers course is how personal it was. My blog up to this point has been dedicated to the authors we’ve read and how influential each were to topics relevant today. We’ve read stories that revolve around identity, strength, and finding a voice. I don’t think I can capture how significant this class was to my life with a single post. But I think it’s safe to say that it did empower me. Hannah Crafts taught me about freedom. Harriet E. Wilson shared ideals about the role of men. Harriet Jacobs gave importance to my childhood. Zitkala-sa reestablished the power of education. Nella Larsen showed me the importance of identity. Zora Neale Hurston helps me cope with falling out of love. I’ve learned a lot about these authors, but I know I’ve learned even more about myself. In previous classes, I was consumed with getting good grades and writing papers that were all about the structure. For so long I’ve written things that were never to satisfy me, by my professors. Suddenly, I have lost my voice in the sea of reasearch papers, strict MLA citations, and thesis statements that I could care less about. Like the authors I’ve read this semester, I was stripped of the one thing I valued most: my voice. Blogging holds a very personal place in my heart. I’ve done it before it was a “trend,” or before sites like Tumblr had gotten famous. It was my outlet. To have the opportunity to blog again was so refreshing. I fell in love with writing all over again. I actually wanted to read the books that were assigned. I remembered why I became an English major in the first place. Dr. Travis, I know you are reading this and I want to say thank you! Thank you for introducing me to such amazing writers and allowing me to connect to them through blogging. Thank you for letting my mind roam free, yet staying grounded on the importance of content. If there is one thing I will walk away with from of this class, it is to be fearless. I have to take the strength and lessons expressed by these women and remember to never forget my self-worth.

It’s okay to write a preface in a book. It’s okay to have your work hidden for a while. It’s okay to lose yourself sometimes.

My work might be forgotten. Maybe not even be found.

But it’s still mine. It’s my story. It was explained by me.

Giving Love Explained.

Let me just say a few things before I really go into this post.

  1. Kyle Hanagami is a BEAST. Period.
  2. This song gives me the “feels” beyond explanation.
  3. Ed Sheeran is pretty much thee Ginger Jesus and he is here to save the music industry. I’m not even kidding, he’s one of the best artists our generation has to offer. I was blessed enough to go to a live show and I was pretty much re-born.
  4. I’ve over-played this video so many times, I’m probably why it has thousands of views (or everyone else who swims in the Ocean of Awesome has found it and hit play) on YouTube.
  5. What came out of this video: the donation to cancer research, participation with the audience, the emotion exerted into the choreography, the visuals, and overall message is incredible. Please redirect back to my first point.

Love is such a hard thing to explain but such a great feeling to experience. In my previous post, Relationships Explained, I tried  to find the right words and bring this kind of topic to justice. I want to go a bit deeper and touch on how love isn’t just found in a romantic relationship. Love is feeling valued, like you actually matter, because someone cares about your well-being and wants to ensure that you never forget you are worth it. In Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, I stated how love was absent in relationships. But it is more important to dive into how important that feeling is. In the beginning of the video we see that Kyle receives a letter that is full of negativity, which he then rips, and goes to break into his choreography. I feel like the novel’s character Linda, is just like Kyle in the start of the clip. She has been hurt and ridiculed for so long. Derogatory words on paper were lived in reality and constantly attached to her name. The song “Give Me Love” is pretty self-explanatory… it’s asking you to give him/her love. I think the voice really calls out the cry that Linda makes. I feel the desperation in her story like I feel the desperation in the song. Linda wants to be valued and truly feel love, because the pain has to give hope to a more positive emotion. There’s gotta be some pay off. Love is a sort of liberation, freedom in the constraints of pain. Not only does this apply to Linda, but also to her mistress, Mrs. Flint. As jealous as she is, she too, wants love. This paranoia she experiences is because of her desire of love. Mrs. Flint is aware of her husband’s unfaithfulness, but continues to work towards acquiring his affection, even if her ways of reaching them are wrong. Still, I understand her longing to be seen as her husband’s love, not just a wife. The partnership is not enough, it is missing that special connection to really be one.

Believe it or not, this video/song/post, applies to Dr.Flint as well. I’ve expressed how much I dislike his character (because I hate cheaters, creeps, and abusive people. Who doesn’t?) But it was as if this song was created by Dr. Flint.

Give me love like never before,
‘Cause lately I’ve been craving more,
And it’s been a while but I still feel the same,
Maybe I should let you go,

You know I’ll fight my corner,
And that tonight I’ll call ya,
After my blood is drowning in alcohol,
No, I just wanna hold ya.

I pictured him in a more vulnerable state as I listened to this song, particularly as the lyrics above played. He’s a character that seems to be stuck in this life of misery. Because of slavery, he has developed this mindset of having to rule, being the emotionless, harsh authority figure who is immovable.  He needs something different, something that has depth like he has never felt before. Dr. Flint needs a damn hug. This song expresses the same desperation of Linda’s for Dr. Flint. Perhaps if he had received love that was so pure, he wouldn’t be this horrible man. Had his upbringing been full of affection and learning to reciprocate this attitude, and not about how slavery can benefit him, Dr. Flint can be more likable. Perhaps he would respect Linda and his wife. I’d even dare to say he would be capable to love another. This song explains, as well as serves as Dr. Flint’s apology to why he is the way he is. Intense right?

This pain reflects on so many of us and the solution to it all is love.

If you read my About Me, you’d see I attend St. John’s University… and we are required to take a few Theology courses. So, my professor from my Christian Marriage course would give me a whole repeat lecture on how love is definitely not an emotion but “a voluntary decision to act upon the good of another.” And I get it! But I would like to think that because we act for the good of another, we value them. Love is why we act.

Kyle’s video throws a punch right to my gut, in both a good and bad way, where bad… is actually a little good too. Follow me? At my lowest points, I just want someone to pick me up and tell me I’ll be okay. I want someone to tell me they are there for me. I need assurance that I am loved. In my highest point, I feel closely related to the end of the video. I feel so liberated. I want to throw confetti in the air or jump up and down, because I have people who love me and we are in celebration (of whatever it is) together. During Ed’s live performance of this song, the whole Hammerstein Ballroom felt like it was floating on air. People were singing at the top of their lungs, some had their hands in the air like they were praying to God above, others I even saw crying. It’s because it connected. We all know what pain feels like. But when we are given love, things change. That’s because love is freeing. It feels great to be free and it feels amazing to be loved.

The Bondwoman’s Narrative Cover Art Explained.

Cover Art

If the cover art for Hannah Crafts’ The Bondwoman’s Narrative were to ever be recreated, I think this would do it justice. The most significant scene of the the novel was Hannah’s escape with her mistress. All they must do is cross the river and get the freedom they so long for. However, with freedom comes sacrifice. Which brings me to my next point: freedom is never free. Why would you need to sacrifice or fight for something that is part of you basic human rights? Heavy topic right? I know. Like many people in my American Women Writers class and I’m sure around the world believe in that statement. Hannah and her mistress do indeed escape, but the shadows of their past pains and hardships follow. First of all, they get lost during their great escape, causing delay in their quest for freedom. Secondly, Hannah’s mistress slowly becomes insane; only proving the inescapable mental and emotional effects of being bound to something. Thirdly, Mr.Trappe, ever so creepishly, shows up near the place Hannah and her mistress resided. Meaning, what both characters try to flee from always comes back to find them.

So how will we ever know we are free? That’s something you must answer for yourself.

This cover art reflects this notion of freedom in Hannah Crafts’ story. She is freed and escapes the turmoil of slavery. In fact, she has a pretty happy ending. However, Hannah can’t help but place the freedom question into her reader’s head. Her story is so intense, shared, and brutally honest, even trying to forget it is impossible. It’s a memory that just doesn’t go away. Like the woman in the picture expresses: you can break free from the load in which your chains bind you to, but the chains themselves would be harder to part from. Even if they do come off, the scars will remain as a constant reminder, and the pain will be the imprint that lies under those scars.

Original Photo Credit