The Smudging Rouge

All those people look like ants from up here!

Posted in personal by camilien on October 22, 2009

I haven’t updated in two months, and seriously, it’s all just been one big blur. This is the life. I love VCU.

For my Focused Inquiry class, a small group of us will present on the argument between man’s insignificance and their ability to change the world. Based on the writings of Carl Sagan and Paolo Freire, and additionally my own preconceived thoughts, I’ve concluded that humanity is not significant at all. Imagine that we are ants on concrete. No one pays attention to ants on concrete. There is a much larger world surrounding those ants on concrete.

But you know what? Society’s already made some sort of chivalric structure that’s been existing for millieniums. Let’s roll with it. When in Rome.

All my dreams are over now

Posted in personal, travel by camilien on August 18, 2009

It‘s astounding how quickly time seems to fly. I feel like I’d just seen Katy Perry yesterday, like I just touched her hand and drove on that lightless road back to Auntie Sherry’s last night. But that was over two weeks ago. Since then, my family and I journeyed through the eastern Midwest for sixteen hours, gas tank after gas tank chasing the precious sunset with the fog and rain on our tails. Eventually, we arrived at our suite in Chicago, with my mother and I sporting slightly smudged eye makeup while we ordered some Chinese takeout from a slightly swanky restaurant near the hotel. Sleepy under bright white lights, I ate my first bowl of wonton soup, ever, taking in the bare view of the suburban Chicago outskirts through the window. I saw the parking lot across the street. The lights were arranged in a grid, and those lights blurred and turned into the caps of perfectly arranged, newly-appointed Navy sailors at the following morning’s ceremony. My brother, Jeroen, was in one of the divisions, carrying a black peacoat. He wore that mandatory black coat for the rest of the day, saving his white uniform from getting drenched in the Chicago city rain. We stood on the Willis Tower’s “Ledge” and looked out onto the foggy, skewed rooftops. And let me tell you, Chicago’s moniker as “the windy city” is no joke; it is, indeed, more than just a little windy up there. And it’s constant. The wind nearly knocked me over once or twice. I saw umbrellas turn inside out and bend and break. Soon, the wind blew my family and uncle and aunt and I into a Greek restaurant in the middle of Greektown. And after that, we hailed a minivan cab back to our respective home bases. The sun set and the stars shined and we slept in our hotel beds for another night. The clock beeped and we dressed and drove to the Naval base to pick up Jeroen for another stroll in the city. This time, the Watertower and Museum of Contemporary Art picked at our attention, before the Navy Pier and a tasty Chicago deep-dish pizza bistro called to us.

Then Sunday came. Our last day. We picked up Jeroen and drove toward Chicago’s vast skyline. He was tense. He knew that in a matter of hours we’d have to part, and he’d spend the next seven months wondering what we’re up to, if we’re playing his PlayStation 3 videogames or not. We toured the top of Willis Tower one last time to see a clear view of the city, the streets, the massive lake, and whatever else lay on the horizon. Pressed for time, we left Chicago before nighttime could settle in. A thirty-minute drive back to the base, and that was it: Jeroen left. It’s unreal. We cried a little. Then we drove back to the city. Fireworks blasted and glowed that night on the Pier. The Lollapalooza crowd, coming from the ending festival, basically conquered the sidewalks.

I was in awe during the entire drive to Chicago.

shenandoah valley

shenandoah valleyShenandoah Valley, VA

I’m in my dorm in Richmond now, at VCU. Of course I miss home. I miss my mother and my father and my brothers. I miss playing my music so loud that the speakers nearly distort the basslines. I miss strumming randomly on my guitar. I miss singing. I miss our 65″ HDTV. I miss family movie night. I miss having the whole house to wander around in. I miss getting yelled at. I miss those inevitable lectures. I miss Disney World. I miss Cabbage Patch Dolls. I miss kindergarten. I miss my old life.

I’m not ready for any of what is to come.

Katy Perry and scenic routes

Posted in musicians, travel by camilien on August 3, 2009

I saw Katy Perry over the weekend in Atlantic City, but my brother has the photos so I can’t upload them right now. It was exciting though! It’s impossible for me to tire of her Lolita outfits.

Since I don’t live anywhere near Atlantic City, my brother, Jason, and I stayed at my cousin’s house in Hightstown, New Jersey. It’s a small, peaceful little town with gorgeous fields of wheat and corn surrounding it. My aunt’s backyard is massive — they live in a townhouse so of course it’s shared, but still, the place was huge! — and my cousin, Ed, Jason, and I had a fifteen-minute photo-op before the Katy show. Our ride to Atlantic City took about an hour-and-a-half on a road I’d never driven through in all my years of visiting the state. I like that highway. I wanted to pull over next to a yellow, barren field, just to take a couple shots, but we had to keep on our journey.

I love long drives. Going to New Jersey from Virginia, where I live, takes between five to six hours. I use that time to listen to full albums on my iPod, some of them containing songs I’d been reluctant to listen to before. I discovered that The White Stripes are greater than I’d imagined (listen to “A Martyr for My Love for You” from their latest, Icky Thump; I’ve had it on repeat for days).

This Thursday, my family and I are embarking on another long trip; “long” is an understatement, though; we’re driving to Chicago. I’ve been through the South (Texas, ’03 and Florida, ’02), through the southern half of the country (I was half-a-year old and moving from Long Beach, California to Norfolk, Virginia, so I don’t remember), and through the interstates and highways that I know so well (New York and New Jersey), but the Midwest is new to me. Hopefully, we’re taking the scenic route.

the Wonderland Redux

Posted in film by camilien on July 28, 2009

(all posts from my previous blogging platform can still be found at thesmudgingrouge.onsugar.com)

I grew up on Tim Burton. At four, I watched Beetlejuice, hardly understanding any piece of the plot, and then I watched my mother paint my brother’s face so he’d resemble the creepy clown-looking guy for Halloween. At eight, I witnessed Johnny Depp trim the neighborhood slut’s hair as Edward Scissorhands, the recluse with the pale pallor from the dark mansion up the hill. Then I saw the stop-motion wonders of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which had always reminded me of the The Addams Family with skeletons. Needless to say, I also grew up on Disney’s Alice in Wonderland; the VHS tape nearly wore itself out after numerous playbacks. An illustrated version of Lewis Carroll’s eminent storybook currently sits on my dresser.

But Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, already a web hit due to the concept art and Depp’s promotional photo (which depicts him as the eccentrically-dressed Mad Hatter), is actually a misnomer — the film is set a decade after the acid trip-esque venture into the colorful gardens that generations have familiarized themselves with.

And with all the movie hype building up like a stack of worn top hats, the film’s spring 2010 release date seems as though it is a decade away for us, as well.

Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter; Mia Wasikowska as Alice; and Anne Hathaway as the White Queen.

credit: Bowl of Serial