The love of words in any language.

“There must be a Russian word to describe what has happened
between us, like ostyt, which can be used
for a cup of tea that is too hot, but after you walk to the next room,
and return, it is too cool; or perekhotet,
which is to want something so much over months
and even years that when you get it, you have lost
the desire. ” – Barbara Hamby

Maybe it’s because I’m a Russian-Latvian that I find this beautiful. I love the Russian soul. It’s part of my blood; my history. It’s in my DNA. I have always had a love for words. I love Woolf, Greene, Austen, Eliot, Plath, du Maurier, Brooke, Flaubert, the Brontë sisters. So many.

But then there are the words written down by Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Chekhov, Bulgakov, Pushkin, Pasternak, Akhmatova. A man once told me that Tolstoy was the mind of the Russian people. Dostoyevsky, the soul. I almost fell in love with him then and there. Almost.

We can also look at the compositions that came out of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Scriabin. Music felt in the chest. Resonating. We fear our hearts will explode. We cry to relieve emotions suddenly resurrected; uninvited.

And maybe it’s just the simple fact that I love the idea… the tepidness that comes from waiting.


“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.

“Let the line of thought dip deep into the stream…”

A re-printing of “Let the line of thought dip deep into the stream…”(MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2007)

“All these infinitely obscure lives remain to be recorded, I said… and went on in thought through the streets of London feeling in imagination the pressure of dumbness, the accumulation of unrecorded life, whether from the women at the street corners with their arms akimbo… or from the violet-sellers and the match-sellers and the old crones stationed under doorways… Above all, you must illumine your own soul with its profundities and its shallows, and its vanities and its generosities, and say what your beauty means to you or your plainness, and what is your relation to the ever-changing and turning world.”(Virginia Woolf, “A Room of One’s Own.”)

I wonder what Virginia Woolf – who is one of my favorite writers – would think of blogs today. I believe that she would be very excited about the availability of this form of expression for women writers everywhere. She had the belief that women needed five hundred pounds a year (in 1929) and a room of one’s own in order to have the freedom to pick up our pens and write.

I am lucky, finally, to have the ability to write full-time. I realize that I am in a wonderful position and am thankful, although it did not come easily. I feel, also, that having two blogs have given me a platform on which I can express myself. Blogs create a constant exercise in writing and thinking and putting your thoughts together. It is so important to write (if you are a writer) or to take photographs (if you are a photographer.) Whatever your dream, your focus, your end all be all, it is important to have the time to devote to it. Too many people do not have the time or money to concentrate on their dream.

Last month I wrote about my love of writing on the silky pages of a good journal. I even took a photograph of some of my lovely bound books. My two blogs – “A Bohemian Girl” and “The Weight of It” – both serve a purpose. One is a scattering of thoughts (which I hope are not ignorant ramblings) and the other one is a chronicle of something that is very important to me.

To Woolf, it didn’t matter if we were poets, fiction writers, or travel writers. She supported the woman’s desire to be a writer. It didn’t matter to her what sort of book you wrote. She even wrote, “Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.”(Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”.)

“Let the line of thought dip deep into the stream…” What a fantastic line. What an inspiring thought. I want to inspire, because I want to be inspired in return. I want to be inspired by what happens in another person’s presence. By the simplicity of a situation. By a perfect moment. Moments that could have happened yesterday or twenty years ago, but will remain forever fresh in your mind.

I want to record these moments. Things like a conversation between strangers. The colors of Malaysia when it rains. A bird flying through an old barn’s rafters that has rays of light slicing through the air that are filled with dust. Sleeping on the top bunk as you take the night train to Saint Petersburg. Sitting on a Vermont mountain side amongst scultpures and tall grass as you take in all the nature around you. The Charles Bridge in Prague at midnight as the rain comes down softly while you walk past police officers and a couple in love with the castle on your right in the distance. Or an attractive man getting up to give you his seat. I could go on forever….

But inspiration should come naturally. There should be no pressure or design. It’s in the person’s make-up. In their own personal design. In their interest in the World around them. And because of this, they make you want to be the best person you can possibly be. Isnt it wonderful when you turn around and are surprised by inspiration? By a spark? By life? By something you have done! Or seen. Been lucky to have witnessed. Isn’t it lovely when you don’t have to say a word and the energy flows through you simply because you are sitting beside this person? And they can be a friend, a relative, a lover… Ah, inspiration is addictive… I love to be fueled, inspired, supported by my friends. By my loved ones. By my family. We should charge those around us. Inspire each other to do our best work and be the best people we can be.

Blogs are a form of expression. We are given anonymous free range to express to others who we are, what our thoughts on matters are, what our experiences have been like, what our memories are filled with. It’s a way of connecting to readers, friends, loved ones, strangers… I write in order to inspire. I write in order to keep my mind working. To keep it oiled, if you will. I write, because I have to and there is nothing else I could do. Or, rather, be happy doing.

Looking Back, 2

A re-printing of “Literacy and Longing in LA” (SUNDAY, JULY 29, 2007)

The other day I went to Amoeba with Maggie and got not only The Double Life of Veronique, BUT ALSO The Decalogue and the box set of Kieslowski’s other films, which include The Scar, Blind Chance, No End, Camera Buff, A Short Film about Love and A Short Film about Killing. I’m actually tickled pink that I now have all Kieslowski’s films. This man is easily my favorite director, while Zhang Yimou isn’t too far behind him! Raise the Red Lantern anyone?

Kieslowski’s Trois Couleurs Trilogy – Blue, White and Red – are my favorite films of all-time. Red is my favorite of the three, but Blue comes in close second. I know that most people say that Blue is their favorite and why wouldn’t they. The talented, beautiful Juliette Binoche and Kieslowski’s use of color, cinematography and music – the surges of music with the intense use of the color blue throughout the film rips you apart –make it a masterpiece!

However, there is something romantic about Red that made me love it the most. The way in which one character symbolizes another, the near misses and the way in which characters dance around one another completely draws me into the film time and time again. Over the last ten years, it has never gotten old. None of them have. Each time I sit down to watch these films is like the first time.

I love introducing people to these films. I think I am going to have a Blue, White and Red marathon in the next couple weeks and invite a small group of friends over to watch them on my rather tiny television. (I have a TV, but it is only there for DVDs. I do not have it hooked up to any channels. I do not have Cable.)

Instead, I have surrounded myself with books. I grew up with a library in my house and one in my Father’s den. My parents pushed reading and there were a number of sleepless night spent reading until the sun came up. My Mother would then allow me to skip school, because I hadn’t gotten any rest. My best friend in Boston, Amanda, and I are both buyers of books. We are obsessed. I am reading a book right now called “Literacy and Longing in LA” – some unusual light reading for me – that states this perfectly: “Women do different things when they’re depressed. Some smoke, others drink, some call their therapists, some eat… I do what I have always done – go off on a book bender.”

What I love about “Literacy and Longing in LA” (a novel by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack) are the literary references to not only books I personally love – in one paragraph she mentions Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, The End of the Affair, Wuthering Heights, and A Farewell to Arms – but books that I am now making a list of to read. I’m always looking for something amazing to discover.

At twenty-eight-years-old, Amanda and I both have pretty extensive libraries in our apartments. Our friendship was founded on our long talks about our favorite novels or non-fiction indulgences. We sometimes read the same book together, like when we tackled Anna Karenina when we were at Emerson College. When we met, Amanda and I immediately liked each other. We realized we had found someone else who shared not only an obsession with books and the written word, but who was also striving to become a writer. We are each other’s biggest fan. She is an amazing poet and short story writer. Her poetry sends you back against the wall.

Last time I counted I have more than SIX HUNDRED books in my office. Some of which (nearly two hundred of them) came from my Father’s den library back in our house in Newport, Rhode Island. After he died in 2005, we sold the house and Mother moved to Florida. I went into his library, which had a wall of books – thousands of them – and I picked out the books that I wanted to keep before the Naval War College came in and took the rest of the books away.

My Father had been many things in his life. A 4-tour of duty Vietnam Veteran, a UN Peace Keeper in Jerusalem, one of the Consultants to the Shaw in Iran in ‘78, and a diplomat in Malaysia and Russia, as well as a student and a teacher at the Naval War College. He never got his PhD, but he did have three Masters degrees. One was in International Relations, I think. Over the years, he had created a magnificent library of military and historical books from which he taught his classes or from which he got inspiration for his lectures. He had actually lectured a few years before he died at Oxford University in England.

Although I am far from being depressed like Dora in “Literacy and Longing in LA,” I do find reading, like watching films, to be a wonderful get away. Especially during this time in my life when all I really want to do is sublet my apartment, postpone my film, fly to France and “get to know” Paris and the countryside in a two to three month courtship. I want to court Paris. Date her. Have a love affair with the city.

I want to do that one country at a time. Maybe after France, I will go to Italy or Germany or Ireland. I have a story that I want to write that partially takes place in Malaysia and, for the last three years, I have wanted (intended) to go back to my childhood city and get to know the country again. While there I would also travel to Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Bali, Borneo, and maybe even travel up to China and Japan. Spend a couple months traveling throughout the area.

Before I take this trip, I will start learning French again – Berlitz course? – and inhale books about France, about Paris, about particular historical and artistic figures and books that are written by French writers, as well as “visitors of the area,” ex-pats, etc. On my trip to Prague, I stayed with my friend, Jamie, and her boyfriend, Jack, who are both ex-pats (from America and England, respectively) living in the Czech Republic teaching English. This was the ideal set-up (for me at least.) I got to stay at a friend’s apartment, have that base, and explore the city on my own. I would love to do that again and again all over the World. But I guess once you set-up a “basecamp,” rent an apartment or a room, you might feel more comfortable about your stability, although the instability of travel is also enticing.

When I do travel next, I will create my own travel book of odd, obscure information that only I would appreciate and “follow” a somewhat loosely planned agenda, but be excited about the unknown of traveling in a country, possibly alone… I like the idea of going to France by myself, but then again, I might change my mind as the date approaches. It is also a dream of mine to travel the World with someone special. It brings a whole other element to the trip when you can share it with someone else.