No More Going to the Movies

Due to budgeting constraints (a.k.a. I am poor) I’ve mostly given up watching movies in theaters, which is pretty disastrous. I love going to movies alone, sinking into another word, the way one can do with a book. It’s a lot easier with a film however, mostly because you don’t need to jog your imagination or read backwards if you’re slogging through a series and forgot this plot thread, or that character a la George R.R. Martin‘s “A Song of Fire and Ice.” Plus, if you get yourself into a good movie, you’ll get a neatly wrapped story in two hours or less instead of maybe sitting through a serial drama or condemning the sci-fi gods for canceling “Firefly.”

There’s a smorgasbord of pros to movie watching, but if you’re tired of shelling out money to go do it (like me), you’ve got to remind yourself of the OTHER cons. Here are a few, in case you wake up craving popcorn and those horrible 3D glasses that give you headache:

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An American on American vs. British Accents

I used to think that audiobooks were only for people who couldn’t see well enough to read a regular paperback book, but I’m starting to really enjoy them. I hate long-winded books, but hearing H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” read aloud, especially in a British accent, just works. I think the foreign accent helps because it forces me to concentrate in order to understand what the reader’s saying. I don’t even find it all that strange anymore to hear a non-American reciting to me. It’s something I got used to, like any foreign film buff can attest to.

I remember watching the Forsyte Saga, a British drama, and being flabbergasted at all the English accents until I got so inured to them that when an American character popped up, I thought she sounded flat and horrible and thought to myself, “Is that what I sound like?” I’m sure she was played by a British actress because the character sounded about as emotional as a robot, but I have to say the realization was eye-opening.

That reminds me of the time when someone I knew went to England and tried to talk Chinglish, a combination of Chinese and English (the most famous English hybrid being Spanglish). Only, she was talking American Chinglish and he was speaking British Chinglish, and it was funny and disconcerting.

But did you know that the British find the American accent sexy? Guess we have a mutual love-in.


I did not know depression until it robbed me of movement. I shutter my windows against the sunshine, thinking it too loud, when before it would have been a welcome invitation. I find myself lying in bed for hours, drifting to sleep, waking and drifting again, letting dreams coalesce like sand in a shaken bottle, settle deep into my psyche. I do not look too long into them; their bitter conclusions present themselves as truths. Even in dreams, my mind finds no relief. It only combs cobwebs into a great mass, sad glimmers, a heavy egg sack on my heart.

A Bad Relationship

I have decided on an relationship of equal give and take
Which too much of the time, swings too much one way
And then the other
Or, may be too alike that one negative
Brings about another
Compounding negative to negative
Until negative is the only thing that lies between
Two forces conjoined by choice and then by desperation

Who says two halves make a whole?
When we are lesser than ourselves together, than alone

Culinary Faux Pas

A few months ago, my family went out to celebrate my birthday. We ate at a French restaurant where a number of my relatives tried foie gras for the first time. Not knowing that the pate was supposed to be spread like jam, my father treated it like a slice of ham or chicken instead, by sandwiching it on a piece of bread. My younger sister, who was the most wordly of us and had eaten at a number of fine restaurants, cried out in alarm. My youngest sister, even though not having tried foie gras herself, berated my dad for not asking about how to eat it. I was just embarrassed, not of my dad, but for him. My own sisters were yelling at my dad simply for not knowing enough, as if reaffirming to themselves they weren’t ignorant, or nearly as ignorant.

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What’s the Beef? Shake Shack vs. McDonalds

Today, I stopped by Shake Shack instead of McDonalds for a burger during lunch time. I convinced myself that even though I wasn’t eating healthily, I had picked the healthier choice: organic beef. Turns out I was under a mistaken impression. Shake Shack doesn’t carry organic beef but “100% all natural Angus beef.” What’s the difference between natural vs. organic beef? A lot.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, organic beef comes from cattle that has been:

  • Born and raised on certified organic pasture
  • Never received antibiotics
  • Never received growth-promoting hormones
  • Fed only certified organic grains and grasses
  • Must have unrestricted outdoor access

Beef is “natural” as long as it is miminally processed and includes no artificial flavoring, coloring, preservative or any other artificial ingredients. Natural beef doesn’t have to meet any of the criteria above for organic beef. So, chances are, you are not getting organic beef at Shake Shack. If you were, you’d be sure Marketing would be all on labeling it such. The good thing is, Shake Shack’s beef is hormone and anti-biotic free, but that doesn’t mean the cows weren’t fed on gummy worms. So next time you try to delude yourself about eating junk food like me, just remember it’s still junk.

Birds at the Bronx Zoo

There seems to be a theme going on in my life: one that consists of tigers. After watching and laughing at Bollywood’s rom-com, “Ek Tha Tiger,” and picking up Téa Obreht’s “Tiger’s Wife” for some leisure reading, I decided to visit a real tiger at Bronx Zoo but ended up going crazy (as usual) for the birds.

I am a birdwatcher in New York City, but like most people, I was anticipating the large animals when I went to the zoo. But the lions, bears, and tigers (oh my!) were snoozing in the summer heat. The tigers were sprawled on their backs; the lions kept distant on a faint plateau above their natural deer-ish prey, grazing unmolested; and the polar bear, white and iconic, dozed with out-flung limbs on the rocky shore near his artificial pool. He remained stubbornly deaf to the human, zoo-going horde screaming and gesticulating wildly beyond his enclosure. It was if we were the ones trying to impress him and not the other way around.

But why should we be impressed?

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Listening to his voice
The old growl that used to move the old me
I’m still the shaken-up girl who cries
at sad movies
at the seam in the dress that’s not quite sewn
straight, but crooked
Sometimes I don’t think I’ve changed
But I don’t feel like her either, anymore
She’s not someone who would have ever worn —
That dress


Winter thaws its greedy clutch
And green shoots from a softened loam
The dewdrop ice transforms itself
Into a clustered pearl
That sheds and opens to a kinder air
Shyly lilted still to the ground
So that the unassuming passerby
Sees nothing but a pale head cowed
I, however, greet each bud with delight
Scentless and bare although it seems
The snowdrop is spring’s humble herald
The first and most courageous of them all;
The rose and marigold show empty folds
Crimson and ochre in their braggart lust
And knows not the hardship of breaking through
The season of dying misery to tell —
The worse has, and will, always pass.