Never Say Goodbye: Sweet MJ Forever

2802ec5b3bdbddd9692c7e0fe4291a7cToday would have been Michael Jackson’s fifty-eighth birthday, and he’s been on my brain since I woke. Diana Ross fell in love with him on first sight and so did I, fell for those big eyes beneath big fros long before either of us hit puberty. I adored him in the Jackson 5, emulated his Thriller moonwalk every day afterschool at my best friend Ansie’s. Listened to Off the Wall a ton when I started to have good sex in my twenties—even more when I started to get my heart mangled in my thirties.

Michael.

Sure, I couldn’t pretend he didn’t become a ghost—and an unsettling one at that—by the time the ’90s rolled into view. But I never lost sight of his gangly sad-eyed big-dimpled genius. I got permakitten Grace the day of his funeral and to this day she wears his full name as her middle two. I can’t help feeling he sprinkled her with a little of his magic when they passed each other by. She loves dance and song like no animal I’ve ever known. Continue Reading →

The Toils of ‘Fatima’

fatima writing“Fatima” begins slowly and deliberately, and proceeds that way for its entire seventy-eight minutes, like a mother straightening her child’s room. This is appropriate, for it is about an Algerian cleaning woman struggling to raise her two teenage daughters in Lyon, France. The film is a loose adaptation of Priere a la lune (Prayer to the Moon), a short collection of poems and other writings by Fatima Elayoubi, a North African woman who emigrated to France and taught herself the language. Fatima’s onscreen stand-in is played by the nonprofessional actor Soria Zeroual, who really worked as a cleaning woman until being cast in this film.

At times, Zeroual’s lack of acting experience is all too evident – her high, trailing voice can grate; her motions and features can seem frozen – but soon enough you see what director Philippe Faucon saw in her: an unadulterated steadiness that shores her children – and this film – in the face of all adversity. With her veiled head, stricken expression, and broken French, Fatima encounters micro – and macro – aggression daily, yet remains undeterred as she spends long hours cleaning a local factory and the houses of unhappy, wealthy women. Nothing can sway her from the goal of supporting Nesrine (Zita Hanrot), her eighteen-year-old daughter in medical school, and Souad (Kenza Noah Aiche), her fifteen-year-old daughter who is as surly with her mother as she is with her schoolmates and teachers. Continue Reading →

Love and Animals

ruby redI’m trying to climb back on the grid, I really am. I’ve had my computer back for a few days and have completed all my paid assignments. But a lot has happened this month and it all boils down to my realizing how much more I want, and how much Rilke applies if I’m to achieve it.

You must change your life, said Rilke.

In the first and second and third place, I’ve grown powerfully tired of social media. I know this isn’t fair but after a time away it just seems like the worst of 20th century snail mail: chain letters, clippings from college roommates who assume they’re ranting to the choir, notes from bored aunts about everything they ate and aren’t-they-just-the-cutest kittens and babies.

I want more. I want please and thank-yous. I want diagrammable sentences rather than rebuses; polite declines rather than rebuffs. I want declarations and advance invitations and follow-up questions and direct answers. I’d wanted the Summer of Jane but at this point would settle for Dick and Jane. Or just See Spot Run. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy