Let life begin.

A re-printing of Let life begin.” (MONDAY, JANUARY 21, 2008)

We shed old personalities like a snake sheds skin. There are moments in your life where you realize that you are not the same anymore. That the world has altered. That someone is missing. I see that the color of blue has been taken off my painter’s palette. And blue is my favorite color.

A part of my life has been shut off, as if a light bulb in a room has burned out, and the room has gone black. Minutes may pass before you walk into the room to change the bulb, where you are enveloped immediately by the darkness, but you do bring light back into that part of your life.

And it may take you years to even look at the door, let alone walk into the room.

This brings to mind an installation art piece that I wanted to do in college. Within that room, you are surrounded not only by the darkness, but also every possible emotion. And when the light is replaced, you see the bareness of the room’s interior. The white walls. The lack of paintings, furniture, objects, possessions, life. The starkness of the room seems to neutralize every emotion you had been experiencing moments before. Bright and bare, the room holds nothing.

On the ground is a thinly painted red line that makes a circle. A place that you intuitively know is the safest place to stand in the room. In the house. On the wall to your left are twenty-eight locks that seal a door that does not exist, although there is an eyehole through which you can see people, made of a gray-blue papier-mâché, holding frozen positions outside the walls of the room. On the opposite wall is a doorway that leads into another bleak, dark space. A place you know holds more emotion. A place where you cannot change a light bulb in order to bring light to the space. It is a place without light. It is depression. It is mourning. It is emptiness.

Standing inside these walls, you know you will be able to step out into the World again and live. Maybe not today, but you will. And this room brings up the realization that you cannot go back to the way you were living. Even if it was only yesterday. Life changes without you. Life changes with you. And you must surrender to the change.

Strength to change can burn through you as you do it. It can send razor hot lines of pain through your body as you make the decision to not continue living your life this particular way. You can love the color black – the dark, rich, sensual texture of the color – but decide that this particular black is not something you want. It’s not something you can afford to have. And you take it off your painter’s palette. And the act is not without pain or love. For you can experience undeniable passion with someone who is not interested in the same thing as you are; however, you get up the strength to tell them that you will not continue this, no matter how good they make you feel, because it is only a momentary, limited act of expression. That, in the end, really means nothing.

And how can you fill your life up with nothing? How can you accept only what is stripped down to the bone? How can you feel completed by someone who gives nothing of himself except his physical self?

People have told me to be careful of what I ask for. But I don’t worry about him changing. It would be foolish – it would be insanity – to think he would. And maybe, knowing this, I can move forward. Knowing he won’t move forward with me.

Need versus desire.

Dad * May 14, 1939 – January 8, 2005

Yesterday was my father’s 72nd birthday and I am reminded of the loss of my dearest loved ones. These losses have made me even more acutely aware of the world around me. It is as if my vision has become more refined. Sharper. I now have a clearer picture of my future in my mind. Not a road map, for I do not know what truly will happen once I move to Paris; however, I have a feeling that everything will come together as needed and desired.

Need versus desire. I realize that one needs to be aware of the difference between these two things. When I begin my life overseas, my desires will temporarily have to be put on the backburner as I take care of my needs: getting to know my neighborhood, going to class, finding a job, applying to a number of universities for French lessons, exercising regularly, sending out my reel, writing and shooting… Honestly, these are the daily habits of most individuals, but doing this almost halfway across the World in a foreign country makes the move far more intense.

Quite a few friends have told me that I am extremely brave to leave Los Angeles and travel across the world to a different country on a different continent. The realization of what I am doing sends a slight shock though my system. I do not fear the change, but welcome it. Life is about to drastically change, of course for the better.

The move out of my house (basically a 1,800 sqft Hollywood Bungelow in the Hollywood Hills with the sign in my ‘backyard’) did become stressful for me towards the end as I wound up finishing the packing over a weekend alone. Thankfully, my friend Shaun had helped me move the majority of my belongings – a few pieces of furniture; dozens of plastic and cardboard boxes of books, clothing and other things; a good deal of artwork; and six Persian carpets and Chinese rugs – into my storage 5 x 10 unit.

After moving everything (or at least most of my belongings) out of the house, I had to get the last remaining things into my car and down to the storage unit. After five trips, I drove my completely filled 325i to my friend’s apartment where I was to start my couch surfing adventure. I was now officially “homeless,” although I could never call myself that having the way with all to move to Paris where I will start renting an apartment in June.

What does it mean to have no true place to call home? Liberating. Because I know that I have a home awaiting me in Paris. And what France symbolizes for me is a safe rebirth out of the past ten years in Los Angeles. Without a LA address for the next month, I am starting over; afresh; creating a new beginning.

“Silent under the pressure of the sea”

A re-printing of Silent under the pressure of the sea” – Amanda L. Wilding (FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2008)

In a small row boat, in the midst of a vast ocean with no sight of land or other vessels around me, I let the waves rock me back and forth. And I stare at the surrounding blue. Where the light sky meets the darkness of the water. And it is not a graceful meeting between sky and water, but a severe contrast. As severe as emotions can be. Divided, intersected, broken by the crisp line of the horizon. By the suddenness of a passing second that can never be repeated or changed.

Art breathes existence and precious meaning into life. It keeps you rowing. Pushing through pain, disappointment, uncertainty and doubt. Ignoring the fear of tipping over. Into the unknown temperature of the blue water. Where numerous creatures live beneath the rippling surface.

And I jump. And, from one boat to another, I swim. Again and again and again. Sometimes twice in one intense day. Sometimes after the passing of several quiet months. Regardless of how tired I am, I jump. I always do. It is the only way to achieve change in our lives.

Change requires this sort of a jump. Change requires courage and faith. And you do not know how long you may tread water without the reassurance of a life jacket. And you do not know what swims around you. And you do not know when a slightly larger boat may come your way.

But a boat does float past and you lift yourself out of the water with a newfound, unknown strength and climb into the safety of your new vessel. And you wait until it is time to jump out of it again. Because that time will come.

Since I was a young girl, maybe thirteen or so, I have used this metaphor to explain the way I look at my life. And last year has been filled with a series of jumps and tiring days of treading rough water.

These waters have been filled with love affairs, friendships, excesses. The sea ebbs and flows with these moments. The waves rock us back and forth. Causing us to sleep. Or be sick. Last year, my strength to hold on did not stay constant. My pulse raced and slowed. My blood boiled. My tears came in steady, uncontrollable streams. I sobbed last year. I cursed everything I knew. I wished the most terrible things.

Several boats have been filled up with experiences that have forced me to grow. As an individual. A person. A filmmaker. A writer. A woman. A lover. An intellectual. A human being. A soul.

I aged another year. I cut my hair. I went Raw and changed my lifestyle. I started to run. I took up pilates. I broke people’s hearts and shattered their dreams. I gave other people opportunities. I started a company. I have been cheated on. I made love. I have been the player. I have hurt a man. Or two. I have gotten under the skin and buried myself beneath his veins. I have caused him to feel like he is bleeding to death from within. I have not wanted to let him leave. And he hasn’t and he has.

But these are the two most important and significant moments in 2007, as well as in my life: I experienced the beauty of finding ones artistic voice when I made “The Weight of It.” And I experienced the excruciating pain of loosing my best friend, Amanda, on December 10th, 2007.

Above all things, Amanda’s love, friendship, loyalty and the memories I have of our eight years of friendship has opened my eyes to what is important about why I am here. On Earth. In Los Angeles. In the film industry. About why I chose to move 3,000 miles away from my parents, my best friend and my other friends. About why I felt this sort of sacrifice was worth this sort of separation.

And Amanda knew where she wanted to go. We were both going to be successful writers. A few months ago, she reminded me of the time we met and I introduced myself to her: “Hi, I’m Elena. I’m a writer.” And she said she was impressed by my confidence. And I was thoroughly impressed by hers. I was always inspired by her. Of her knowledge about what boat to swim to. Of what direction to go in.

Sometimes our boats would float side by side. We would spend long hours, days, talking about the fears we had about jumping into our work. About our worth. About our abilities. About our talent. About our strength. We were exceptionally alike, her and I, although we took different paths in our lives in regards to our writing careers.

And we both have our enormous insecurities, especially in regards to our work; however, we were growing as artists. As writers. And, like myself, she knew exactly what she was about. And she never apologized for it. She never backed down. She was first and foremost a writer. She is one of the most amazing poets I have ever read.

Next to my parents, Amanda was my biggest fan. And I hers. We read each other’s work constantly. We critiqued and edited each other’s work. Since college, we had the dream of forming a modern day “Bloomsbury Group” and I still can’t imagine her absence in my personal, literary and filmmaking life. We had a mutual admiration society. We were starting a Literary and Arts Magazine together. We were going to make a place for ourselves in the Literary, Art and Film World together.

We were going to do so much more together.

A State of Mind

Some have remarked that I am going to be a fish out of water in Paris. Perhaps, but maybe the city will welcome me with open arms. I cannot walk into my new life with the fear that the city will expel me. It would be as if I entered a match or a battle with the decision that I had already lost; that my defeat had already been made up in my mind. How could you ever triumph over anything if you thought you would loose before you ever started?

And so I envision a beautiful image of life in France before I even arrive. I set the stage in my mind. The architecture of the city alone is the perfect backdrop for my dreams. I have an idea of what I want my existence to feel like. It’s as if my thoughts are judged by my senses. I warm to the idea of walking the streets of Paris. I tingle at the thought of taking photographs of people dressed in gorgeous clothing as they stroll past me or of buildings towering above. My mouth waters when I imagine the food that I will taste. My heartbeat quickens at the thought of running around the Seine for exercise. My eyes mist when the realization that I am moving there hits me.

I want to write in Paris. I want to write about the city and create stories that take place there. I want the pulse of the city to run through my sentences. My paragraphs. I want to know Paris through my own words and images. I want to study its landscape, as if my stories are Oxford dissertations. I want and I am going to have it.

Alice In Wonderland

Elena Kalis

As I sit, the feeling of exhaustion washes over me. Like a dull pressure that fills my body with a quiet tension that does not actually ache; however, I am thoroughly exhausted. I have embodied one of my favorite childhood characters – Alice in Wonderland – who cried herself into becoming a miniature girl and was swept out of the room by a current of her own tears. Today I cried myself into a sweeping sea. The stress, which had been unknowingly dormant within me, had suddenly sprung up and rushed from my eyes. For several hours, I became the giant that flooded her room with tears.

I made the decision to move to Paris is March (or February at the earliest); however, it wasn’t a new idea. Several years ago, I had switched my focus from London to Paris and it was my 2009 trip to France that my decision became firm. As I sat in a Paris café, I decided upon my father’s birthday – May 14, 2012– as the day I was to become an ExPat. Life however intervened and the date sprung ahead like a wound up toy that could not remain in its stagnant place.

Things have changed drastically over the last few years. I have been in denial about the fact that my inspiration and creative drive have all but left me. And what the city of Los Angeles’ part was in that creative void. And where my heart got the better of me. My true friends had tried to support my spurts of inspiration, while a few hacked away at my foundation, either with cruel intention or blind fear. I allowed the latter to hold me down. I acted with fear, for there was once a reason that I was willing to remain here and not venture back out into the world that I loved as a child. And it has taken a lot to pull myself out of such a wasteland to see how I kept myself in the dark.

With nothing holding me in LA – or in the USA – I made the decision to change my “due date” to May of 2011. I have spent the last few days and weeks bringing the different pieces together. I have moved out of my house, put a few important possessions into storage and worked to complete my visa application. I am now inspired and filled with excitement, while the level of stress has been surprisingly low and manageable. Until today, when the stress of moving to another continent caught up to me. And I was forced to release the emotions held within me.