Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Call of Chichen Itza

On my Facebook page (Melissa Z. Savlov Writes Her Wrongs), I posted the following phrase, which spontaneously emerged in my mind last night:

"Never assume tomorrow will bring you what you need today."

This phrase of advice can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, and I welcome you to receive it in whatever way(s) speak(s) to your soul and goals. (Feel free to post your thoughts on what it means to you.)

As for me, the concept prompted me to write the following strange little tale, which I've written in the spirit of magical realism and poetic autobiographical fiction.


"The Call of Chichén Itzá"

Years ago, I consciously chose to ignore a strong spiritual message. A voice without vocal cords eerily urged:

"Go... to the pyramids... of Chichén Itzá."

I'd vaguely remembered that there were pyraminds in México, but I had no idea where in this expansive country they might be. I'd imagined them being somewhere toward to center of México, perhaps 300 miles West of La Ciudad de México. But, when I researched it, I found (to my dismay) that they're in Eastern México (near the Mexican Riviera of Cancún).

Listening to that voice would be expensive.

Nevertheless, undaunted, the voice, feminine but not mine, whispered: "I can't tell you too many specifics. But, in about 6 months' time, the window will open. Go to the pyraminds then. You will meet someone there. Someone vital to your life path. You will know him when you encounter him."

Skepticism furrowed my already prematurely furrowed brow.

"I cannot tell you exactly when the window will open. It might be in 3 months. It might be in 6. It will remain open for 3-12 months. But don't count on it lasting that long. Go in 6 months. That's my advice." The voice went as silent as it was invisible.

I wanted to go. Oh, how I yearned to go. Frequently, I said to my then-husband, "I am meant to go to Chichén Itzá." He was perplexed but tried to be supportive. He did not want me to go but was polite and supportive enough not to say so, nor did he undermine my efforts to make the trip happen. Kindly, he offered to watch our children as I explored this vision. Indulgently, he listened to my shockingly ill-advised enthusiasm about a potential solo road trip through central to eastern Mexico via Texas. He knew I would eventually realize that there were serious safety issues with that plan.

He suggested the use of our joint funds for a flight to Cancun. Yet I resisted. I did not want to fly into The Mexican Riviera and stay in a hotel filled with people who were there to party and not for a soul journey. I didn't know how else to get to the pyramids (but have since learned alternative routes). I don't fear flying. I have often flown without incident. I just don't like the cold sterility of the experience, and the lack of mobility, and basically forsaking my freedom. Also, I have a tendency toward motion sickness, am overly sensitive to personal space invasions, and usually catch colds when I fly because I have yet to find the perfect balance between wearing enough layers to stay warm and not feeling like the Stay Puff Marshmellow Man shoved into a metal chair, padded cylindrical arms almost touching my neighbors'.

Weeks flipped past like in a cartoon calendar and I could sense that the window was open. I accepted defeat: the responsible path. I went to work. I stayed home at night and helped everyone who needed me, at their convenience. I ignored my languishing soul, the clock ticking like dynamite. As the days progressed, they oozed into barely-liquid molasses. I dwelled in despair, resisting each pull of the soul-spotlighting moon.

Magnetic martyrdom out-armwrestled the beckoning howl of my starving soul. Of course the window closed without me. But the voice was ever-present in those last weeks. The voice even appeared to me as a woman, luscious from hair to hips, long from calf to nose, brimming with the fury I'd become too numb to acknowledge. Once, she tapped her naked wrist for what seemed like hours, nagging me with a red-lipsticked mouth on mute.

The silence of this apparition could be ignored, as I was used to closing my eyes. But, when the voice returned, it undulated with allure. Scintillating, mesmerizing smoke, it led me in circles until I became lost and panicked. "If only you'd listened, we would be safe in the pyramids," she accused. "Instead of 40 pounds of fat and a deadened mind, your thighs would be solid, your mind would be bursting with volcanic wisdom. It all awaited you. The mystery of the pyramids. The sweet serendipitous gift. What a waste." She shook her head, clicked her tongue, eyed me derisively.

A few years after serving my marital prison sentence, the name "Chichén Itzá" wandered into my path, and not just once.* The name would emerge from a lunch-date account of a recent vacation or a description of a documentary. I would meet people from Cancún when strolling a Southern Californian beach or examining a roma tomato. At first, I would get so excited, as I was ready to go this time, ready to take that path I'd once neglected. But, when I became still, my own voice whispered: "It's too late now."

The once-crooning moon goddess, there in my despair, diminished then vanished like morning mist. When I released her hand of luminiscent stars, unable to follow the dream, she fell from the sky in a dead free fall, flat on the barren desert floor, snapping her spine on impact. When I try to approach her now, to thank her for trying, and apologize, she whips her head, covering her eyes with ratty crusted hair, which she prefers to my visage. She spits thorn-infested tumbleweeds at me.

Sometimes, voice a raspy taunt, she encourages me to go there. But the way she says Chichén Itzá now sounds like: "Chicken's gonna eat ya!!!" That sacred place is now a skeleton, once the protector of precious life, now brittle and defenseless, with no say in its own belittlement. "Go there.... Go...." she rasps, trying to summon a fraction of the allure that was once her blood, filling the heart that made her bosoms plump to the point of distraction. She wants to weep but there are no tears and she refuses to be humiliated; so she claws at the scorpions who feed on her once-blooming thighs, bites them for liquid and spite.

Before she finally expires, her red-rimmed eyes seize me, shake me, won't let me go, like a Halloween version of a cheek-pinching grandma. "Short-sighted, timid, and weak! We held the door open for you. The wind blew cold from your soul. The tears froze on your face. So we built a fire, hot enough to steam your heart awake, intense enough to cross countries. We bought precious unguents to rub into your soul wounds. So much of your soul could have been salvaged if you'd heeded our call. We held the door open for you. But a breeze arrived instead. We died of the cold. Ungrateful, you are. Ungrateful. Ungrateful. And now you will not know our wisdom. Now you must earn it, with good deeds and tough choices and absolute commitment to heed future calls of your soul."

Shivering scared, I realize I'm lost. I must earn the wisdom, which is beyond price and thus beyond reach. I have no expectation of soul-satiation. But breezes blow and souls whisper. I must be still.
What you need now will not be what you will need later
  -- unless you are soul-mired,
    a sink-hole soul.

So listen, listen, listen.

  to your howling, hungry soul.
Windows will open, but not forever.
Doors close, bolts laughing at you.
And so, I urge you, listen.

For the whispers, to your soul,
A soul that knows what it needs and when


* We married too young, less than a year after college graduation. We brought out the worst in each other -- not from a lack of love but a lack of complementary qualities.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What Is Flirting?

Recently, I described a brief encounter I'd had to a small group of men and women. The interaction I described took place in the morning and the man with whom I interacted was maybe 20-25 years older than I am. I summarized what we both said in this little scenario that lasted about 5-10 minutes.

After my description, many of the people in the room said it sounded like I was flirting with the man, to my great surprise. I couldn't believe they would think I would be flirting with some old white-haired gentleman older than my father before breakfast. But, even after I expressed these thoughts, the group maintained that it seemed like a flirtatious encounter nevertheless. I described the situation myself, so it wasn't as if someone else was misrepresenting what happened.

The main thing that made me bawk at the flirting "accusation" was his age. There were other factors, such as the time of day, my grumpy mood at the time, our vastly different clothing, etc. But I was mostly aghast that they would think I would be coming onto such an old man. Then, a few moments later, I admitted that I actually DO flirt with someone that many (if not all) of people in the room knew (although I did not mention him by name). I made this comment to jokingly point out that I KNOW WHEN I'M FLIRTING, and I know when I'm NOT flirting. Soon after that, I realized that the intentional flirtation example I gave involved a man about 20 years younger than I am. Ironic, isn't it? So maybe age isn't such a big factor in the flirting equation after all...

Also, maybe MY perception of whether I am flirting is not the only consideration, as there's another party involved.

So what differentiates flirting from being friendly or cordial? One might argue that the intentions behind the interactions are what matter. But I admit to flirting with people with whom I don't intend to become intimate. Maybe I am just in a flirtatious mood and someone looks good to me, so I will give them a very special smile. I would count that as flirting.

Sometimes there is an attraction that cannot / should not be acted upon on moral grounds (i.e., marital status, one of the parties is drunk, not wanting to "ruin" or complicate a friendship, you work together, etc.). In this case, flirting would be a substitute for acting upon these private feelings. So the intention would be to flirt but go no further.

What about frequently complimenting your restaurant server? Is it flirting? Is it flirting when you tell someone with a new motorcycle, "That's a hot bike!" while appreciatively stroking the leather seat?

Does sexual preference matter? For instance, if a woman is very friendly with another woman, and both women are lesbians, is that automatically flirting? What if the lesbian interacts with a man in exactly the same way? She doesn't want his body; so is it flirting then? What about straight women and gay men who are close friends and often hug, kiss cheeks, and share private jokes? If both parties know that intimacy will not be occurring, is it still flirting or something else?

When I interacted with the white-haired gentleman, I knew I had absolutely no sexual intentions for him and thus it was inconceivable to me that someone would construe our interaction as flirtatious. But what did HE think? Did he perceive me as flirting?

Maybe it's flirting only if one or both parties involved feel like it's flirting. Is it flirting if neither he nor I thought it was flirting, but the small group of people who heard about the encounter concurred that it was?

What do you think?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Hallway

How do you feel about hallways?

Do you find them menacing, fearing what's behind each door?

Or, do you see each door in that hallway as a possibility for something fresh?

Are you the type of person who hones in on the threshold at the end of the hallway; does it glisten at you, fuzzy and bright? Or, do you like to see what's behind each door as you make your way toward the end?

During this hot (and blogless) Summer of 2010, I have been in transition. I've discovered a new neighborhood, moved, altered my lifestyle, and reassessed my personal and professional goals. I have (and I know you knew this was coming!) been in the metaphorical hallway.

I find hallways a bit daunting because, as you traverse them, you have way too much time to think. For me, that means you have time to worry if you have the strength to make it to the end of the hallway. In your weaker moments, you might even contemplate running back through the door through which you came -- even though you know very well that what you'd find there is a return to unhappiness and inertia. At least you know what's in that room!

Hallways can be restful at times, invigorating at others! They can fill with a fog of uncertainty, or sunshine. They can be tedious as you make stride after stride and seem to only move an inch closer to your destination at the end of the hallway. Being alone in the dark, because hallways are a personal journey of the self -- can also be scary and lonely.

Personally, I am rarely tempted to cross the thresholds of other doors on my way toward the destination door at the end of the hallway. I might open a door or two and peek inside out of curiousity. But I stay on track because just to enter that hallway in the first place took tremendous concentration, assiduous contemplation, and momentous effort. So, if I've actually opened that door with full knowledge of where I'm headed, I'm not going to risk that hard-earned path toward a more organic and satisfying life.

But how about you? What are your experiences with Hallways of the Soul?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Is America A Melting Pot Or Not?*

In case you don't know me personally, I'll preface this blog by stating that:

1) I am a very proud American. I wear red, white and blue every 4th of July. Our nation's anniversary is my second-favorite holiday (after Halloween; refer to earlier blog for details).

2) I'm a third-generation native California, and feel extremely proud that my children are fourth-generation native Californians. (Because most Californians move here from other places, we are a rare breed.)

3) I believe that one can be a patriot (a person who adamantly loves one's country) without being a nationalist (a person who believes their country is better than every other country).

Furthermore, one thing that even my closest friends might not know is that I am absolutely scandalized that anyone would punish or even scorn any person for displaying an American flag in the United States of America. (I'm referring to the case in which some school-children were punished for displaying the Stars and Stripes on Cinco de Mayo:

(I do recognize that these students were likely trying to start fights with the Mexican-Americans with their flag-flaunting. But punishing them for displaying their own country's flag was not the appropriate action to address their confrontational behavior. Punishing the troublemakers for their provocative words or aggressive actions would have appropriately addressed this issue.)

For the record, I'm also against flag-burning. Incendiary statements can be made without setting fire to the flag. [Yes, pun intended. :-)] The fact that they live in America enables dissenters to express themselves without persecution. So to burn the flag as a statement of free expression sends a (shocking but) dissonant message.

But, to get back to my main point (about America as a melting pot)...

In elementary school, I was taught that one of the things that makes America great is the fact that we're a "melting pot" -- a colorful conglomeration of people from all over the world. My continued belief in this philosophy is not just a result of my continued love of Schoolhouse Rock's "The Great American Melting Pot" song, but observations and experiences I've enjoyed in my adult life. Here are some examples of why I love Melting Pot America:

My Lifestyle

- I drank a cappucino (Italy) and ate a croissant (France) for breakfast this morning.
- Yesterday I enjoyed English Breakfast tea and crumpets.
- Last week I savored some Thai Fried Rice with Thai Iced Tea.
- I haven't seen an Indian movie for a while. The last one I saw in the theatre (in Hindi, with English subtitles) was My Name Is Khan.
- I may have some Green Tea (Japan) later for its good nutrients.
- I've been thinking about the message from the fortune cookie I selected when the kids and I ate Chinese food a couple of weeks ago.
- This weekend I look forward to chomping on chips and digging into a yummy cheese enchilada, accented with a frothy margarita!

(Must I go on? I could, ad nauseum! I'd enjoy it, too; so just ask!)

My Friends

Plus, I literally have friends from across the globe -- some who look like me; others who look nothing like me. Some who share my Californian accent; others with accents markedly different from my own. All of these people enrich my life, and I likely would never have met many of them if America were not such a melting pot.

Our multiculturalism is the very thing that makes the United States of America one of the best nations in the world. For we absorb and (used to!) welcome people from almost every country across the globe. As a nation, we benefit from the unique strengths and perspectives that these immigrants (and by immigrants, I mean all non-indigenous Americans -- whether this generation or numerous generations back) bring with them. Some of us even apply our amassed strength and resourcefulness to assisting other nations in humanitarian efforts [e.g., in Haiti ( and Chile (].

Also, those in favor of Arizona's SB 1070 might want to keep in mind that, in the Southwest, the Mexicans were actually here first. Sure, we fought them until they moved further south. But Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, Texas... Anyone who lives in these sections of the United States lives in what was once Mexico. In modern times, most people (claim to) agree that the historical persecution of native peoples was wrong and not something that we should repeat. But it looks like some people only believe in tolerance for native peoples when it's convenient, or when the economy is thriving.

Also, as a note on Mexicans and the U.S. economy, most of the people the proponents of AZ SB 1070 want to expel are the poor. For white collar workers typically can afford to acquire necessary documentation. They have access to companies who will sponsor them, or they are educated enough to figure out how to acquire a green card or similar documentation. The destitute Mexican people do the work that most other Americans (who are wealthier, because they have been here longer) refuse to do. So are they really taking jobs away from anyone? For more on this point, check out:

In addition, the United States is HUGE. We still have plenty of room for everyone.

Now you might argue that it's not the people themselves to whom the pro-SB 1070 Arizonians and their adherents object, but rather the illegality of their entering and living in the United States without the appropriate paperwork. But I ask you: Raise your hand if your ancestors -- the first people in your family to enter the United States -- came here legally. The Puritans did not come here with the blessing of the British, but rather to escape mistreatment in their country of origin. Sound familiar? The people escaping the Russian pogroms and Nazis did not come here legally. They fled at great risk, fearing for their lives. Sound familiar? Many Irish people and Italians also crossed the Atlantic to U.S. shores -- not necessarily because they were in danger, but in hope of a better life. Sound familiar? I won't go on because I'm sure you get the point.

So, in summary, I'll answer my own question:

Yes, we are a melting pot. What's more, we should be a melting pot, because that's what makes our country great. We should celebrate our diversity and devote our minds to how we can improve our economy, rather than focusing on the poverty-stricken people who (just like our ancestors once did) come to America hoping to live in peace and prosperity.


* This blog is in indirect reference to the Arizona's Anti-Immigration Law (SB 1070). According to The New York Times, this law would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Learn more at:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Identity and Work

I'm revisiting the concept of Identity today due to a realization I had about myself related to Identity and Work.

Here's what I noticed:

The less I identify with a project, the easier it is for me to complete it, and the more fun it is to complete.

Don't you think that's odd?

Doesn't it make more sense for me to enjoy working on things with which I identify? Don't you think that, if you are personally invested, you can complete the work faster and with less struggle?

I would have thought that taking pride in one's work goes hand-in-hand with identifying oneself with it. But I do take pride in my work, even when I don't identify with it -- perhaps even more so when the work is completely unrelated to my life and self.

Perhaps this seeming contradiction is related to poor self-esteem. Maybe, if I don't value myself, then identifying with a project devalues it in my own eyes. I really like working on projects that don't relate to me, and I tend to finish them quickly.

Perhaps it's something as simple as me projecting my anxieties onto the work that causes delays and distress. Maybe it's just this kind of over-association between who I am and what I do that causes me to evade personal projects (such as posting my thoughts on this blog) and embrace others (such as editing instruction manuals).

Does anyone have any thoughts on Identity as it relates to Work?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Congratulations, Olympians!

I think this year's Winter Olympics in Canada have been amazing. It was the first year that the Winter Olympics caught my attention.

The USA/Canada hockey game today was the best game I've ever watched (although the 2009 Super Bowl Game is a close second, thanks to that amazing last-moment Steelers catch).

Does my love of this game make me un-American (since we lost to Canada)? Of course not! We were FANTASTIC out there. We went into overtime, in CANADA, playing HOCKEY. How amazing is that?

(Also, because I'm an international as well as an American citizen, I have to say that Canada not winning would have been pretty depressing. That said, we certainly didn't make it easy for them!)

It might seem odd to those who know me outside of Cyberville that I'm taking the time to blog on sports -- particularly since I haven't blogged in months. For I'm not exactly known as a sports fanatic. I typically would much rather read or watch a foreign film than crack open a beer and watch the Lakers. But sports (including the Lakers, of course!) have become a part of my current lifestyle. All told, I've actually watched more sports in the past two years than I had for the previous 36 combined.

Dramatic life changes yield strange results sometimes -- like chemical reactions in which the original substance can never revert to its prior state.

Anyway, I just wanted to say: Bien fait, Canada!

And thanks for being such wonderful hosts.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

American or Religious Holidays?

It's December, and we are now delving into our winter holiday celebrations.

Some of you may be celebrating Hanukkah, which began a couple of days ago. Others may be happily anticipating Christmas at the end of the month. The Islamic New Year begins later this week.

In the United States of America (where I reside), we ascribe to a very wide variety of religions. After all, the Pilgrims came to America specifically to have the right of religious freedom. (Whether they respected the religious or other freedoms of the Indians who already lived here upon their arrival is another matter, and I won't insufficiently address it in a cursory manner here.) There are so many religions in the USofA that I won't even pretend to be familiar with most of them.

And yet, in this religion-obsessed nation, the most prominent holiday figure in the December media is Santa Claus, who arguably relates to no one particular religion, or several. Some people believe that Santa Claus is really the Christian Saint Nick. Others believe that he's a carry-over from pre-Christian paganism. Still others make it a point to ignore Santa Claus because he does not fall into their belief systems. But the mainstream representation of Santa Claus is that he's just a harmless, jolly old white guy with a sizeable stomach and a fluffy white beard. He brings presents to children and (if you watch Lifetime movies) love to hopelessly romantic single folk.

Personally, I value my Americanism just as much as my religious identification. So I have no qualms about the co-existence of this Jolly Santa Claus figure and the celebration of my own (non-Christian) religion. I don't want my children to have to suffer the indignity of not getting presents from Santa Claus in a society that reinforces his existence each December. I don't want them to assume they're on an oft-mentioned "naughty list" because their parents don't happen to be Christian. Honestly, even I don't want to have to change the station when my favorite Christmas song plays on the radio. I would rather sing along.

To me, not celebrating a secular Christmas feels un-American because I live in a consumerist culture, and Santa is all about the gift-related part of the holiday season. I would never go to Mass (unless it was to accompany/support a Christian/Catholic relative or friend). I would never put a wreath on my door (because I know it represents the crown of thorns that Christ was forced to wear on the crucifix.) And I would never, ever display a manger on my front lawn. But I look forward to seeing who might wander under some mistletoe, and I'll make sure that Santa doesn't forget my children on December 25th.

What's your opinion on secular and/or religious celebrations of winter holidays in the USA?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Raison d'Etre

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to why Gd placed me in this universe, in this time, in this realm. What are His intentions for me? Am I fulfilling his expectations, or is He up there just shaking his head sadly, thinking, "When is this woman going to get it?! I've certainly sent her enough clues and opportunities!"

Do you know what your purpose is for this lifetime? Please comment.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October and Halloween

As I mentioned in my last blog posting, October is a time when leaves leap from trees in a burst of colors that brings me to my knees.

But October is also a time for that most controversial holiday: Halloween.

For those of you who know me in my non-electronic life, you know that Halloween is my favorite American holiday because there's nothing I like more than wearing costumes! So I disclose my lack of objectivity.

That said, I would like to acknowledge that I respect those who don't celebrate All Hallow's Eve for religious reasons. If you are one such person, feel free to skip this blog and check out the next one.

For me, Halloween has nothing to do with paganism (just as Santa Claus has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ). So please read this blog in that context.

I've often heard the statement that Halloween is an ideal means through which to reveal one's alter-ego. In other words, a lady who typically wears clothes that cover her ankles, wrists, and half her neck will sometimes burst out in a sexy vamp costume. Likewise, a mild-mannered man might appear as some outrageously gruesome monster.

As for me, I like to wear outfits that accentuate aspects of myself that I embrace but that society typically doesn't welcome (in public).

For example, last year, I dressed as a bellydancer. Most of my close personal friends know that I learned how to bellydance during my college years and still enjoy it -- from the attire, to the movements, to the music, to the finger cymbals. But it's not exactly something that one brings up in the corporate lunchroom or during a family gathering.

How about you? When you dress up for a Halloween party -- because I acknowledge that most adults don't wear costumes simply to trick-or-treat with their kids (like I do; LOL) -- do you dress to release your alter-ego, or to go public with a part of yourself that isn't normally acceptable in your environment?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Autumn is my favorite season.

I love how the colors turn rich, and how that depth of hue allows my eyes to see the contrasting colors.

I enjoy the fashion -- the sweaters and boots.

My skin delights in the fresh breezes for which it longed all summer.

But mostly I invite the coming of Fall because it offers a fresh start. Life begins anew, and thus so do we.

What is your favorite season and why?