Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Kace's Carousel Milenyo, Marilyn, Joe Malone and the moral of this story

By KC Concepcion

Posted date: October 06, 2006

"NO damage, really. Just wet," my Tita says about her open-spaced nest in lovely Laguna. Little did I know I was missing what is said to be the biggest typhoon to hit Manila in over a decade.
Uprooted trees

We Filipinos living abroad surely heard about the thousands of trees uprooted all over. How sad to see hundreds of trees with their roots up in the air--even in seemingly sublime places like Legazpi Village, Salcedo Village, Forbes, Alabang. Westgrove Heights lost 500 trees! So somber and disenchanting somehow.

And though some people were lucky to have untouched homes, a five-day power outage, cellsites down by storm, flying fastfood signs damaging parked cars, missing rooftops and ruined heartbeats tell us a tale of Nature being so violent. And three hours before the storm, who would have known?

After three and a half years of living away, yesterday was the first time my family and I reattended church. We spent much of our week praying for electricity, water systems, hearts, minds, families, lives and Metro Manila to be restored. I have to admit, though, that I was in the process of texting friends in Manila a few days before, sharing my escape in photography exhibits and guiltless imagination. To feel better about such indulgences, I convinced myself that I could just hear my aunt saying to me now, "Thank you so much for a spot of Paris and beauty and art. Haven’t had power for four nights now and although moonlight bathes my nest, I see stars when I take cold heater-less showers." Heater-less showers. Heartless storms.

All of us have high points and low points in our lives and who is going through better or worse is not really the point. For all of us, there are things we really need to sort out, our brain needs to absorb what happened, our soul needs to eat it up. This is when you know that in the end you will have to help yourself make a choice, and to choose a direction. Are you going to continue with your frustrations? Are you going to be happy? Are you going to pacify yourself by helping somebody else sleep better today?


Just as nature could be so unexpectedly intrusive and violent, so could other things. In a photo exhibit at the Musée Maillol, were the last shots ever taken of Marilyn Monroe before her death in 1962. Wrapped in images of her, I realized you can never really figure out how the mind of a larger-than-life movie star works (or anyone else’s for that matter). Her photos were ethereal, with her blond hair and light skin twisted between crisp and white linen against a blank backdrop bathed in natural light. The whole look was white on white on white. Showcased, as well, were photographs in a ’60s coral-orange tint that might be difficult to replicate today. However, what was more interesting about the Monroe exhibit was seeing Marilyn exist in so many different states of mind. On one wall, her photos made her look nonchalantly ready to crash into bed, solemn and drunk as a daisy. On another wall, she was stunning, a sweetheart, happy and high. One would also describe her with the words simple, subtle, and utterly smashed, as, at times, it seemed she was either one or the other. But then I would glance to my left, and on another wall were images of the icon, many different Marilyns, all scrambled together.

Doing that photo shoot could have taken her anywhere between two hours to a whole day, but one thing is for sure: there was something going on in her life at that point in time that led to her death less than a week later. Not knowing her story, sometimes all we can do is guess what is going on in another person’s life. The only way is to read between the lines, to understand things from both sides: false lashes fluttering over sad eyes, pearls and diamonds draping over a hungry body, fabulous white heels sinfully stained with drops of red wine. All these could have been clear signs that a suicide would happen a week later. But, maybe, nobody bothered to look hard enough. Maybe we don’t listen enough, or empathize enough. While some may do some acting and concealing ever so well, others might not be acting on things they should be doing, quick enough, or hard enough. We all need to learn when to keep things private, and when to share with the world, when to keep an eye out and when not to meddle. Some things are better left unsaid, other things deserve to be immortalized--in photos, in scripts, in spirit--neverendingly beautiful and alive. Marilyn will forever remain the latter.

Joe Malone

On a "lighter note" it is much too important to take things in with some humor and a grain of (perfumed) salt. Some may say I am a late bloomer when it comes to discovering British perfume brand Joe Malone, but prancing through the perfume boutique I also had the pleasure of discovering that, which others may not be entirely aware of. To all fashionistas, lo and behold, this perfume is actually less expensive here in Paris than in the UK from where the brand and product originate: a bottle may be worth 80 euros in Paris and 100 pounds up in London! The concept of it is that customers are provided the opportunity to concoct their own personal fragrance. The boutique then becomes a mini venue where the mixing and matching of various fragrances becomes possible with the end goal of being able to stand out in the crowd, quite possibly with your nose raised up high. Skimming through Grapefuit Lime and French Vanilla, Fig and French Lavender, I noticed that any scent that had the word "French" in it turned out to have a petite touch of baby powder. I then concocted a floral French Lime flavor to suit my young girl-regression needs, spritzed the oils on my pulse spots (as is common yet an obligatory demonstration is often required) and continued to what would be the yummy highlight of the evening.

Victoire de Castellane

Another important fact to know is that Victoire de Castellane, designer of Dior’s jewelry line, LOVES DESSERT. Coming to her jewelry exhibit while still at France’s first department store, Le Bon Marché, I doubted she ever got stressed with work with all that sugar and the means to afford Parisian pastries. On a screen via a video projector, there she was with her baby bangs and quirky clothing, pointing to four cakes and other desserts saying, "Ca, et ca, et ca, et ca. Merci!"

I sat down on one of her custom-made French chairs (with white fabric seasoned with colorful images of fancy rings, candy wrappers, and semi-precious stones) bewildered and thinking to myself: When you find yourself wanting this, that, and oh, that other thing, this is when you know you are going completely crazy. Not that crazy is necessarily a bad thing, but we all have to admit that we can hardly ever be all things for all people. After having a taste of the many sides of work, love, life, there will come a point sometime where you will have to make a choice: which dessert best suits my taste, which path is more valuable for me to follow? From where you are, you just have to stop and think, am I going to stay, or am I going to go? Once you decide, you then have to think of how to wait or how to leave. Someday there will be a tipping point waiting to be reached, and once you reach it, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to look back. And when you’re tired of thinking at all, then you just go where the river takes you, let some things go, and allow them to flow to where they will. Get hurt, enter the chaos, and through it all try to keep still. "Sounds yum," Victoire might say. Well, life with all its sugar and spice sounds yum to me.

So the moral of the story is this: when you can’t take the stress, instead of resorting to some silent way of exiting the universe, just run out in the streets and wake the neighbors up. Or you can just calm down, deal with your situation, pacify yourself and zen out. You have to make a choice, after all, and at the end of the day, it’s got to be yours. And time will really help you sort it through, which is something you’ve just got to force yourself to do.

I was about to sleep when I still smelled roses on my wrist and the faint hint of French Lime. And with just one whiff, for whatever it was worth, the world stood still while I thanked God for one calm evening, and one good afternoon.

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