It’s almost been a year since the pandemic actually became real for all of us. I know it’s been a struggle– our lives have been profoundly changed: people have lost their jobs, people have lost their lives and we have been isolated from interacting with our family and friends. In times like these, we have to do our best to survive, and if anything human beings can do better than any other species is adapt. I understand it’s weird writing this as we enter the one-year mark of the pandemic but I can’t help reflect on my year in quarantine.
I FINISHED MY NOVEL
It started as a short story called Confessions of an Abortion Addict that I wrote in 2016. It was based on a story I had heard about a woman who was addicted to getting abortions. (It was after I had finished the first draft that I had learned about Irene Vilar’s experience which she documented in Impossible Motherhood: Testimony of an Abortion Addict — a beautiful and heart-wrenching read). I wrote it because it spoke to me about human nature and how we are still capable of inexplicable things.
At that time, I was reading more nihilistic philosophy and I had rediscovered David Lynch movies. These were some of the ingredients that went into making that short story. Once I wrote it I got some great feedback that really encouraged me as a writer. But it was my friend who gave me the idea to turn this short story into a novel. He told me he loved June. He wanted to know more about her and then the rest, as they say, is history.
Five years and two editors later– it’s finally here, and as much as I hate to say it but that period of isolation was the final push I needed to finish June Is Dreaming. It’s been a huge achievement for me and I’m proud that it’s out in the world.
Movies I watched
SEVEN SAMURAI (1954)
As this pandemic went longer than expected, I wanted to watch the movies that were always on my list. I had always heard of the legendary director, Akira Kurosawa. This was finally the opportunity to enjoy his most iconic work. At almost 3-hours it’s a gargantuan effort to watch it in one sitting but it’s not hard to do because it’s so entertaining.
Seven Samurai follows the story of seven samurai who get hired by a village to defend against a horde of bandits. All the seven samurai have different personalities that have to come together for a greater cause. I personally love Toshiro Mifune’s wild and enigmatic performance as Kikuchiyo. There is a reason it’s considered one of the greatest movies of all time. The characters, the dialogue the setting, and the cinematography — it’s all here. If you consider yourself a fan of movies in general it’s definitely one to watch.
Although I watched a couple of other Kurosawa movies, Throne of blood (1957) and Yojimbo (1961) which are all great. Ran stood out to me because it’s just plain beautiful. The vivid colors are visually arresting as they flow with beauty and bloodshed. Ran is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s play King Lear. This wasn’t the first Shakespeare play he adapted as Throne of Blood was adapted from Macbeth. However, reducing them to adaptations is a disservice. If you want to get lost in images and also enjoy something while your brain is altered– I don’t think you can give your eyes a better treat. Mind you there are still some other Kurosawa movies I still have to watch so I’ll keep you in the loop.
BARTON FINK (1991)
I have always appreciated the Coen brother’s work. Big Lebowski (1998) is one of my favorite comedies of all time. However, I had never heard of Barton Fink, and I watched it on a whim– and it was totally worth it. If I could sum up Barton Fink in a couple of words, it would be that it’s a surreal tale on the terrible consequences of writer’s block. It was like the universe was telling me to watch this movie; especially, as I was going through my own writer’s block after I had finished my novel. If you are a writer you will eerily relate to this movie. Couple that with amazing performances from John Turturro and John Goodman, and it’s one of the best surreal movies of all time and a must-watch for writers.
THE TV SHOWS I WATCHED.
THE SOPRANOS (1999)
Every TV purist I know would shake their heads every time I told them I had not watched The Sopranos yet (The Wire is another one but I promise I’m on the last season and I’ll finish it– eventually). With the lockdown in full swing and nothing better to do, I finally watched it and I can see why people still talk about this show. It’s this show that kickstarted the ‘Golden age of TV’. The ultimate anti-hero, Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) lies, cheats, steals and kills all the way to your heart as he reveals himself piece-by-piece to his psychiatrist, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). While, in turn, Dr.Melfi inadvertently teaches Tony on how to be a better and more effective mob boss and a family man.
I feel like every show that I’ve liked in the last twenty years owes a debt to this show. It’s like watching a novel unfold before your very eyes. The only minor criticism is that I feel that in an attempt to push characters to be darker they are inherently unlikeable. I mean they are interesting and they are highly quotable but I find it hard liking any of them. Regardless, I won’t mind re-watching it again; especially, since Michael Imperioli and Steve Schirripa recently started a podcast revisiting each episode on Talking with Sopranos.
Another show that I watched by pure chance, Superstore (2015) is one of the funniest and cult-like shows since Community (2009). The characters are funny, the love story between Jonah (Ben Feldman) and Amy (America Ferrera) is a slow-burn romance that feels earned and executed beautifully. Besides that, this show is relevant today as it explores the work environment of people who we now deem as ‘essential workers’.
This show, like a lot of other media in the recent past, explores the unfairness and issues of economic injustice. It’s difficult to balance that while still being funny and whether they executed it perfectly or not– I’d love to explore that in another article. Although, for the most part, I still find the show funny.
The show also doesn’t shy away from portraying the COVID-19 pandemic and; even though, it was hard to watch at times it was done fairly well in the final season. If you want to watch something to lighten the mood this show might not be a bad idea.
If you’ve been following me for any length of time you know that I love surreal, mind-trippy art. Legion although technically a Marvel show is anything but. Legion follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), a psych patient who turns out to be a powerful psychic, and then weirdness ensues.
Every new episode brings with it so many unexpected and weird turns that I was never bored. Admittedly, this show isn’t for everyone and it can be a little bit over on the surreal aspect. But if you love mind-bending media and you like Aubrey Plaza being weird. This show might be for you.
Even though, it’s been a challenging year I can’t help but look back on some of the better aspects of it. I would love for things to get back to normal and hopefully soon. Please leave me with some feedback and tell me how you all have spent the pandemic.