Sunday, December 2, 2012

Saturday, December 1, 2012

why not

As you may have realized through the writing, I am a teacher. The purpose of this blog is NOT to write about teaching or education. But this came to my attention and totally caught my attention.

I teach freshmen, 14 and 15 year olds who are new to high school. This year, so far, has been one of the best groups that I have had in a couple of years. They are interested, plugged in, and crack me up on a daily basis. Right now, they are buzzing about the Winter Dance that the senior class is sponsoring. And for the first time, they are electing a court for the dance. And also for the first time, I've got  nominated freshmen who are campaigning! I haven't seen this happen ... for a long time. When I first started at this school, students would very actively campaign for any opportunity to become a baroness or queen. It is telling that we have a group of kids who are engaged and care. It's wonderful really.

And then there's Jess. Jessica is in my 4th period class. I've already had an eye on her. She sits in a group, the lone girl and African American, with a group of 3 slightly dorky Mexican boys. The conversations that they have when not doing their work! It's fascinating. They talk about everything! Race, fears, family, favorite foods ... you name it. And it is done gently and respectfully. Every time that I look over to them, they are huddled ... totally together and totally all smitten with each other.

Well, as you can see, Jessica is running for freshman baroness. And when I got a hold of her COLOR flier, I ... appreciated her even more. Why vote for Jess? She says in her bulleted list: I'm nice, I'm cool, I'm fun .... Why not. Why not?! That is the key to this dynamic young lady ... why not? Exactly, why not???? That is absolutely brilliant. And it comes from a confident place that I haven't seen in a 14 year old in a while. She is a treasure. She also writes, 'And if I don't win, I"ll be ok, it's not like its going to be the end of the world.' 

No Jess, it is not going to be the end of the world. As a matter of fact, it is going to be just the beginning of yours. And if this is any indication of what it will look like, it will be more than ok. And that makes me so thankful. She has reminded me that it really isn't that serious ... fun can had, the job can be done whether the prize is won or not.

Why not. It's your decision so make a smart one ;)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

words to live by ... according to Oprah

Oprah Magazine November 2012
Yes, I subscribe to Oprah Magazine. I hadn't always, but there are few things worth reading in her magazine every month. I don't like any of her columnists: Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Suze Orman. I never read the interviews Oprah writes ... too much Oprah, not enough interviewee. But I do enjoy reading Martha Beck's monthly 'life coach' article. I've actually used some of her advise. I purged a 'toxic' friend after reading her identification of one, and the reasons why one doesn't have to keep a friend who is toxic. The little column that the political analyst, Donna Brazile, writes is good. My favorite piece of advice that she wrote is taped to the wall in front of me:

1. Be the buffalo. 
Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it—and gets through it quicker. Whenever I'm confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo. 

Oprah also has great taste. I like to look at her favorite things ... they are usually pretty cool stuff.  Doesn't seem to be enough content to continue the subscription ... for the bits I like, it's enough.

It is hard to imagine being Oprah. The stress of being all, to all, must be exhausting. And when I got a look at her favorite quotes, which are shown above, I thought ... jeez, how can one person take ALL of this advice and incorporate into their little lives. I tried to narrow down to one ... and I thought, egads, I already put enough pressure on myself to 'live my best life,' how do I add this? Maybe if I break 'em down.

1. Jung: do I have a light kindled in the darkness of mere being? Am I just 'being?' That I consider this, then, YES! I am more than just being. I have a light, I turn it on. I also have storms, and those kind of come on too, but there is always light at the end of the storm ... or is that tunnel? OK, so what I have in me sometimes is a tornado, that sounds more accurate. And after that tunnel, oh yeah funnel cloud, goes through, there is light. Oh, it's close enough.

2. Epictetus: do what I have to do to be? I am. So I must have done the work to be it. I'm not going to say, oh! I want to be a ... pop star, let's get to work on that right away! No, but what I've become, I've definitely have put some work in it, purposefully and accidentally.

3. Quindlen: oh Anna Quindlen, you get a quote? Really?! Well, I have been told that I am too much myself. I'm just too 'Carol.' I've heard that only recently ... from a sister and a love interest. Well, who the heck am I supposed to be? Oh, I hold my imperfections close to me as they have been my good friends longer than most that I have had. I don't ever intend to be perfect.

4. Tolle: skip. He's a cult.

5. Wilde: now this is my guy! Improbable? Always! But wait, he says ... a 'little.' Yeah, I don't have that in me. As my brother once said about me, 'she's been livin' large since she was born.' He recognizes that in me, and by his pronouncement I understood that he's got my back. Good thing, not many can take ALWAYS improbable.

6. Angelou: no, I don't have anything to prove; except, it would be nice if more saw that what is my enough, isn't something to run away from. My enough can be a little overwhelming.

No sweat, I got this. I just had to consider it. Inspiration is in me. Thank you for reminding me.

Friday, November 23, 2012

peyton manning

The Chicago Tribune 11/23/12
I will tell you upfront that I am die hard Chicago Bears fan. I was raised in a Bears household. We, as a family, have passed on that tradition to the next generation, even though in one instance their father is a ... what???? .... New Orleans Saints fan. Pishposh. I love the Bears! I love the anticipation of an upcoming game. I love that I leave my life for the hours that a game is on, and I can submerse myself in it. A game that can be exciting, and I yell. Disappointing, and I yell. Goes into overtime, and I yell. Or is a blowout, and I yell. Football, for me, is primal scream therapy. A friend likened football to modern day gladiators, and though I had surmised that to be true, I hadn't ever heard it so well articulated. Yes, they are gladiators. They are warriors. They, the Chicago Bears, are Monsters of the Midway. And I don't like any other team, or any other players (especially, and I do mean emphatically, any CHEESE HEADS ... and for those of you in other cultures who may come upon this, a cheesehead is a Green Bay Packer, fan or player. And a Green Bay Packer is .... I won't even bother. I try to think of them as little as possible!).

Ah, but then there is Peyton Manning. There is something about that man as a player that I have always appreciated. He seemed to have an incredible love of the game, an incredible work ethic, and a boyish sense of purpose every time that he walked out onto the football field. A couple of years ago, while he watched his little brother, Eli Manning, quarterback the NY Giants in the Super Bowl, the camera caught Peyton, big brother/Super Bowl winning quarterback, pacing in the owner's box. I don't know if it was more that he was nervous for the outcome of the game, or that he wanted to get in there and throw the ball for his little brother. He was splitting out of his skin. And when he went down, was that two years ago already, with a serious career ending injury, I felt so bad for his team, the fans, and especially him. How would he recover knowing that he would never play the game that he loves so dearly again?

My brother-in-law, a HUGE football fan and physician, told me that with his kind of injury, he wouldn't be back. I would have to satisfy my admiration of him in 30 and 60 second bursts of his charms in commercials of the products he endorses. In my opinion, that injury was more upsetting than what Chicago is suffering now with the injury of the Bulls' Derrick Rose. 

And I guess that I haven't been paying enough attention as I was surprised and heartened that the man who loves football so much is playing at MVP level. Say what? But how could I be surprised? This guy loves the game. He loves football like Michael Jordan loves basketball. And when you have that, and a natural talent and ability for the game, you just can't keep a good dog down. And true to anything that I had thought about him, he picked himself up from that injury and went back to basics. He went back to his old college football coach. He went back to trusting that if he worked hard enough and smart enough that he could get back into the game.

And he has. At 36, awfully old for a quarterback (sorry Brett Favre), he is leading the AFC in passing touchdowns, has the best completion rate, and owns the top passing rating. Incredible! I wonder if the Colts, the team that he played on for years, is sorry now. How could they not think that this man would come back? They knew him. They knew his work ethic. They knew the stuff that he was made of. I imagine that they needed to think of the future, and how to rebuild an offense with a new, younger quarterback. I know that football is a business, but man, coming from a loyal fan, you gotta wonder, do teams have any loyalty?

In the article in today's Tribune, Peyton Manning's Duke college football coach said, 'The appreciation for me was reliving the intensity of a man willing to work beyond what any human can push themselves ... it was an incredible thing. I wish now - and he agrees with me - that we had let somebody come in to document that. Because I don't know if anybody else could have done it.' 

How does one know when one is in it that they are pushing the limits; that they are working far beyond any expectation of what is possible. I take this very personally. It is something to consider for any of us. We don't have to be a star football player. Or anyone else that works at that level of exposure for that matter. But we can, in our own lives, live to that creed. It isn't so much that he took a broken body and brought it back to life. No, it's that he did it without knowing what the outcome would be. He may not have been successful. He may not have gotten picked up by Denver. He may not have thrown another professional pass again. But he worked at it with no one watching, and I would bet that if you had asked him, hey, you gonna do this? He would have said, YES. That's very powerful.

Naturally, Peyton Manning has had a tremendously successful career in the NFL. He's been named MVP 4 times! But his fall, his injury, took him lower than what us normal folks probably would every encounter. So in perspective, yeah, we can do it. Without anyone looking, we can make it happen. And I don't mean just as far as a job is concerned, or school. I mean that we can take what it is that we do every day, work at it a little bit harder, and find that we can pull ourselves up to the next level. Hey, when Michael got older and wasn't as quick to the net, he pulled back. He became the king of the fade-away perimeter shot. Like Sam Farmer, the Chicago Tribune reporter, said of Manning, 'He's not the same player he was in Indianapolis. He has adapted and grown.'

Oh that Peyton Manning! He's my hero. And with his success, I feel a challenge. I can be better. I can adapt and grow. I want to keep on throwing touchdown passes too.

Football. Nothing like it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

bruno mars

If I have a bad day, I can always turn to Bruno and this performance at this year's Grammy Awards. The energy that guy sends off is amazing! When he goes down in to the splits, I squeal every time.

Now, with his new song out, "Locked Out of Heaven," I am the president of his fan club. The album isn't out yet, but I downloaded the single, have it in my car, and it's become my morning anthem to pump me up before I go to work. He's just so ... darn cute! A friend told me that he was on Saturday Night Live a few weeks back, and I checked it out on YouTube. He was a riot. From the opening monologue to the Pandora skit, he was sharp. Of course in his monologue he said that he was nervous about hosting as well as Justin Timberlake ... yeah, he didn't need to be as he was just as funny, and maybe even more beguiling.

I think that what I love about him is that he is a performer. He isn't stuck in a type or only out for quick hits ... he's the real thing, baby. I don't know if I want to pinch his cheeks or ... who knows what, but I am one happy person when I listen to him.

The Grammy performance reminds me of a band that I used to love in college: David and the Happenings. The group was made up of a stand-up bass player, a drummer, and a singer. I think that was everyone ... David was a tall skinny white guy, and he wore a choir gown to perform, mostly, James Brown songs. They were intense, and fast, and a true 'punk' band in my estimation. I would go every night that they played at the Club ... the diviest bar in my college town. And I would dance ... and dance ... and smile.

That's what Bruno makes me want to do too!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Brad Pitt/Chanel #5 Update

I was at my local Chanel counter buying a mascara, and lodged an official complaint against the use of Brad Pitt as the spokesperson for Chanel #5, the cornerstone of the Chanel business; and if I'm not mistaken, the most sold fragrance in the world. The sales associate was very nice given my comment and determination to let her know exactly what I think ... and then she went on to say that about half the people love it, and half don't. But what is remarkable is the fact that men are coming in ... and trying it on! As Brad Pitt is the spokesman, they think that it is a MAN'S FRAGRANCE! Ha! Dum-asses!

But maybe Chanel is on to something ... they are building a new customer for a decades old scent. C'est oui!

The Best Music Video Ever (and in a language that I understand!)

A friend sent this to me and wondered if I might understand it?! I have been known to speak in Leprechaun, which isn't much different than gibberish, except of course without the brogue. And I totally get this video ... it has stuck in my head all day since I first viewed it.

Obviously, as he is an opera singer, he has access to other singers, dancers, props, a sense of performance. I love, love, love the dancers! And the pastels of the girls in class! And the leads!

The song is so catchy that you don't need to know the words. Come to think of it, how many songs do I not know all of the words to and still sing along to them? Many. I guess that it is the point, and this guy does it to perfection.

Monday, November 5, 2012

skye blue skye

the Isle of Skye August 2012
I am on the edge of the world.

new girl

Rolling Stone October 2012

One of my favorite newer shows is New Girl. And Schmidt ... cracks me up. Is a D-Bag? I'm not so sure about that. He is unfiltered, and he says just about what I would imagine any man would like to say outloud in many of the situations that he finds himself in. But I think that all of that bravado is a cover up for what is the pain in Schmidt. Come on, he used to be the FAT guy, and that doesn't just unstick, no matter what the conquests or restylings or whatever may be.

Probably what I like best about the show as a whole is the fact it is essentially about 3 guys who dig each other. I don't think that we've seen that much on television. Usually guys are portrayed as competitors or mortal enemies, but these guys have a genuine affection for each other. Jess may as well be living with girls, or gay guys. They are indicative of what I'm seeing as a 'new' sort of man ... one who is not insecure about his 'feelings' and is concerned with his 'look', etc.

Well, that's not exactly what Schmidt is, but it's close enough.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

sometimes you can't make it on your own

Sometimes you can't make it on your own. Boy, I'm feeling that right now. And I remembered this song this evening, and found it again.

Tough, you think you've got the stuff
You're telling me and anyone
You're hard enough

You don't have to put up a fight
You don't have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight

Bono wrote the song ... U2 wrote the song, for his dad's funeral. Apparently, his father had a big voice too ... raised Bono and his brother alone after Mrs. Bono's father's wife died.

Oh, the Irish. I know them. I can imagine the difficult? strained? tempestuous? ridiculous? sublime? relationship that he had with his father. It probably wasn't very different from what my own father and brother's was before he died.

And it's you when I look in the mirror
And it's you when I don't pick up the phone
Sometimes you can't make it on your own

We fight all the time
You and I... that's alright
We're the same soul
I don't need... I don't need to hear you say
That if we weren't so alike
You'd like me a whole lot more

But I am a girl. And girl's forgive their father of everything. And for as much as this is a song about a father and a son, I can make it mine as I am so like my father. And he did, indeed, put the opera in me. I channel him not much differently than Bono does his own father. I imagine that Bob, Bono's dad, and Bill, mine, are havin' a pint up at the pearly gates, still trying to figure out how the heck to get in to Heaven.

Can, you, hear, me, when, I, sing
You're the reason I sing
You're the reason why the opera is in me

When How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb was released, I saw U2 every night that they played in Chicago. My sister broke her clavicle bone ... and had surgery. We had the pit tickets (general admission ... best seats in the house for a U2 concert), and I told her that she would be fine in all of her clavicle gear ... I would make sure that she had a drink in each hand, and I would block anyone getting too close to her. It was a riot! And when the boys started to play Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, we crushed close to the stage, clung to each other, and sobbed for our own dead father. Bono came very close to us, and I think that he recognized in us our pain. We connected to each other in the sultry air of the venue.

The video above is the 'official' version. I love it for the end as Bono walks into the theatre, takes off his coat, and sings the hell out of the song in his red shirt. The house where he lies on the bed, supposedly, is his childhood home. I don't know for sure. Another cut of the video is a continuous shot of Bono walking the streets of Dublin. Apparently, he had to stop often, for the he could not control the tears. I understand this ... it is very difficult for me to listen to it without shedding a few of my own. It is a beautiful tribute to Bob Hewson, and dads everywhere.

And sitting here, not at my best, I'm thinking that it is a song that covers a lot of sins. I've ran those streets that Bono traverses, literally in the Dublin Marathon; and figuratively, with the death of my father. I know that if ever I had a chance to meet and chat with Bono, I would slip into my leprechaun accent and draw him in by talking about our dear old dads, and how we share the opera that is in us.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

sassy dress

Vogue October 2012

I love a red dress. And with pink ... divine. This is a lovely bright folly. And I would love to wear it.

saint laurent

Vogue October 2012
Vogue October 2012

Something is going on at YSL. I could look it up, but I'd rather just imagine. The ads are the first that I've seen in the magazines. The accompanying page ... all white, and only 'Saint Laurent/ Paris,' suggests to me that they are moving in a different direction.
Whatever it is, the photographs are striking, and certainly stood out in all of the pages of color. More than the single shot, I am drawn to the couple ... for me, it is Biblical ... Mary gazing down at her son. The particular painting that I found to illustrate the connection is the Pieta of Annibale Carracci by Gaulli at right.

The scene is tender, intimate ... and sad. In the photograph she looks down at her lover in a movement that seems to mean that she is moving away from him. And of course, in the pieta, it is the son, Mary's love, that is moving away from her. She holds out her hand to send him off ... towel in hand, she wipes his brow knowing that his journey is one beyond death. Purposed.

Though similar, the woman in the photograph, not Mary, will leave. He will lie. Separate. Not joined throughout eternity.

Saturday, October 27, 2012


My friend did not like my pumpkin with all of the holes in it, but I love how it glows!

Tonight I celebrate Halloween with friends and family. I always wait until the last moment to put a costume together. I bought my mom a Halloween card that featured the 'ghoul scouts.' She was my scout leader, and I thought to do that ... but I would've had to order a uniform, and that didn't happen. So, I'm just a gurl ghoul.

I titled this entry ghosts because I've been haunted by one for the last year. It all started when a very dear friend died last November. He meant a whole lot to me over the years ... and his loss is still not one that has settled. In the week after his death, I awoke and felt someone in the room. Through a sleepy squint, I could just make out the outline of someone standing in the corner. I wasn't frightened at all. And I thought ... well, Jeffrey is keeping an eye on me. He came a couple of more times and then disappeared.

When I returned from a trip this summer, he was there again. Just for a night. And then along came Halloween! I brought all of the decorations that I have collected over the years up, and put them in their usual places. I have a couple of the pictures that are motion activated ... the old lady as you walk by, changes to a spooky figure and mumbles a few scary words. I put her on an entry table in the hall ... far from windows and drafts. I sat on the couch to watch television, and fell asleep. I was awaken by the lady and her mumble. hmmmmm. What was that? I crawled into bed, and didn't think twice about it.

And then in the night ... she went off again. How strange. I put new batteries in it. Who was walking by that triggered it ... aha! I thought. Jeffrey. I moved the picture. I really didn't want to be awaken in the night by her rambling torments. And then I had friends over last weekend, and they bore witness to the phenomenon. Strange.

ghosts. He really is still with me. It's an odd comfort.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

the Brad Pitt debacle

When I heard that Brad Pitt was going to be the new face of Chanel No. 5, I nearly ... well, I wouldn't ever do anything as drastic as stop buying the stuff that is my signature scent ... more or less, but not even address their faux pas. But I'm breaking my own rule, what better rule to break, because I just can't tolerate this nonsense.

Come on ... who in the heck thinks that this man is sexy??? Look at him is the frame. He's scraggly, and icky, and he dumped Jennifer Aniston for who? Skank face. Yes, I am being totally ridiculous, but there are so many handsome men in this world that would much suit this purpose. David Beckham, anyone? Ewan McGregor might be interesting. I think that the Spanish actor that appeared with Nicole Kidman when she represented the 5 was awfully darn good looking. But Brad Pitt?

He probably smells like he looks ... and not of perfume. Not someone that you want selling the top selling perfume in the world.

Monday, October 15, 2012

the poet

Tatler August 2012
Yes, I have been saving this page. When I was traveling in Scotland, I met the retired school master who turned me on to a couple of poets that she has been tutoring her students on for the 'A' level examinations. And given my penchant for magazines and the whacky world of coincidence, one of them appeared on the pages of Tatler magazine that I read on the flight home.

Simon Armitage ... he says, "you can't beat a good fuck ... it can be erotic or affectionate or funny or aggressive." And for this Miss Violet Hudson, the article's writer, says of his favorite words that for this he "may be the sole reason that rhyme is now on par with rhythm on the list of Things To Look For In a Man." I certainly can't deny that a man with rhymes can take my heart with him.

With a quick read of his work, I particularly like this one:

It Ain't What You Do, It's What It Does To You

I have not bummed across America
with only a dollar to spare, one pair
of busted Levi's and a bowie knife.
I have lived with thieves in Manchester.

I have not padded through the Taj Mahal,
barefoot, listening to the space between
each footfall picking up and putting down
its print against the marble floor. But I

skimmed flat stones across Black Moss on a day
so still I could hear each set of ripples
as they crossed. I felt each stone's inertia
spend itself against the water; then sink.

I have not toyed with a parachute cord
while perched on the lip of a light-aircraft;
but I held the wobbly head of a boy
at the day centre, and stroked his fat hands.

And I guess that the tightness in the throat
and the tiny cascading sensation
somewhere inside us are both part of that
sense of something else. That feeling, I mean. 
At first read, I immediately thought of Wordsworth, the Romantic poet. He had an ongoing argument with his contemporary, Lord Byron, that he loved England more as he stayed put in his beloved Lake District while Byron trounced around Europe in his pursuit of adventure. And to some extent, I think that it is a safe comparison, though I get more the sense of the emotion of Byron in his lyric than the pastoral scenes that Wordsworth contemplates in his work. One can entertain cosmopolitan form from one's own space as it is how one feels about the thing than the thing itself.
This week I am lucky to have a few tickets to see Seamus Heaney speak ... one of my favorite poets. And though I don't want to move to far off of my intent for this blog, I have decided to break away and create one especially for poetry. I have been wrestling with URLs for weeks, and for some reason, this prohibited me from writing on this blog ... but the additional one can be found at I am sincere in my desire to work on my own poetry, and with a place for it, perhaps I will harder toward my goal.
Check it out if you get the chance.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

no line on the horizon II

Isle of Skye 2012 ... the sea is there
I know that I have written about this before, but I must return. No line on the horizon. If I were a photographer, I think that my life's work would be of such lines. I think that to best describe myself is to compare me to a line on the horizon ... the blend of elements, airy and powerful, of the sky and the sea. If I could live squint eyed, which gives the effect of this blend, I think that I would, but I am likely to bump into things more if I did ... I suppose it isn't practical. But conceptually, I can blend. Life is not black and white, at best it is gray, and more likely blurred, having the presence of all elements, and all colors.

So why again? I was singing to a friend and he said, 'oh! that's gross.' Oh, not my singing, but what I was singing ... 'I know a girl who's like a sea/ I watch her changing everyday for me, oh yeah/ One day she's still, the next she swells/ You can hear the universe in her sea shells, oh yeah.'

Oh Bono ... the Irish are pulled to the sea, captivated by it. As I've said before, when I first bought U2's last album,  No Line On The Horizon, I wore out this song, which is the first track on the album. The idea of it is so sensual ... I'm lucky that though I do not live near to a sea, I am able to travel to one. Every time that I am in the water, I feel its power ... its swell. The sea is as alive even when it is still. It constantly breathes. And to be in it, heavier than air, I can feel its pulse. Its rhythm.

Of the song, I love the line, 'you can hear the universe in her sea shells.' Any one who gathers shells along a shore knows to listen for the sound of the sea in its shells. Of course the shell is also representative of a woman, it's shell pink and pearly interior ... and in coupling, the union, the universe is heard. That blend, of man to woman, for him, is line-less, one. What's sexier than that?

The song goes on ... 'I know a girl with a hole in her heart/ She said infinity is a great place to start/
She said "Time is irrelevant, it's not linear"/ Then she put her tongue in my ear.' So we move on to the universe and its horizon ... infinite time. The idea that time is not linear is brilliant. How can time be a straight line? I know that when I am in time, it is not a minute or an hour, it's the absence of those constraints and it becomes ... living. The most tortuous device ever made by man is the clock. When the clock is there ... we're boxed. Tied in. Constrained. Shackled. Oh, I realize that the telling of time is necessary for day to day life, but I also think that it is essential to have moments when time is the horizon ... it is not one or the other, an hour or a second ... it is absorption.

And in a moment of absorption, what better thing than a tongue in one's ear ... or something like it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

an end

isle of skye 2012
flutters kick
against my insides,
yet the heart beats
the all's clear alert.

I was not in danger
of loving your heart.
the hugeness of mine
could not fill
your emptiness.

I longed 
to love you-
captured in your skin
inhaling your scent.
though dizzied,
I was not bowled over.

sometimes make believe
seems so real.
I could have pretended
for a moment longer as 
the play of the game
is the possibility
that life can be 
free and easy.

it isn't that.
I pay with hurt feelings
and a breech of 
what was thought to be
a shared impulse.

I'm left melancholy,
ego hidden.
looking to next.
not you.

fashioned classics

Vogue Sept. 2012
Two classics are being envisioned for the big screen this fall: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I have read both and it is safe to say that neither is one of my particular favorites. The Great Gatsby was introduced to me, as it was to many Americans in a high school English class. I didn't like it. The characters didn't live in a way that I imagined myself living. Be Daisy? No. Be Nick or Tom or Gatsby? No. And the scene set wasn't romantic for me. I didn't give up Fitzgerald. Not at all. I began reading some of his short stories ... an old copy of my grandmother's sat on the gold book shelves that my parents had inherited from her city apartment, and I had the good sense to pick it out and start to read. That lead me to what became an important novel for me to read ... Tender is the Night.

What I read in Tender is the Night in high school was a romantic notion of what life could be, especially if one had the opportunity to winter in the South of France. A great dreamer, I often spent time imagining the world that I would visit once I got off of the block that I grew up on. The world of the Divers was alien to me. It was just so different and seemed so elegantly paced. Time was not consumed by worries or demands. Yes, the novel is so much more than where it was set, but it is what captivated me at 17.
at the restaurant with Paula in Nice
the note that Paula left at our hotel
In my mind, the most romantic place in the world was the South of France. And that held me for many years. Thankfully, I have had the opportunity to visit. And my experiences there are exactly as I had imagined them to be. Lucky girl. One of the first times that I visited, my friend and I visited Nice to visit with his landlady, who co-shared a house in Baltimore and Nice with her sister. They would spend six-month periods in each home separately so that they could care for their ailing mother in France. Paula, the landlady, was a very interesting woman: petite, impeccably dressed, and sophisticated. She had been a ballerina in her day ... a Premiere Danseuse Etoile de l'Opera, and so was often invited to events at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. I was fortunate enough to attend several of these events as her guest when I was visiting my friend in Baltimore. Oh! those were grand events ... and the champagne always flowed. My kind of soiree. When we were in Nice, she was in town and invited us for drinks and then dinner. Her Nice apartment was what I imagined the Divers would live in... soaring ceilings, French windows, old furniture ... she served us caviar and scotch. My goodness, I couldn't have wished for any better. Me, little ole me, from State Street in Nice with a beautiful hostess eating caviar! She took us to a restaurant where we sat outside, naturally, and for the first time in my life I ate a flower on purpose! What a wonderfully tender night.

Years later, I heard that a friend of a friend read Tender is the Night every year. Hm, I had to re-read it and figure out why he read it so often. So I did. And what a surprise. The book had changed so much with the years. The setting was still charming for me, but the struggles of the characters became more apparent to me. Reading it at 17, I was naive and wasn't as concerned about the lives the characters led. I realized, for me, why the guy read it every year. I think that he connected to Dick Diver. He wasn't living up to his own expectation ... he fashioned a life rather than lived one, and discovered that life may have passed him by. I don't know if that makes sense; but Dick, he thought that he was the savior. He thought that he had it all figured out, but his mistake was to forget not only himself, but that he couldn't choose how others think and feel about living. I still love the novel, so much more so than The Great Gatsby. I think that they are similar, sure. F. Scott Fitzgerald, though, is more Dick Diver than any other character that he writes, in my opinion. 

Keira Knightly will play Anna/ Vogue Oct. 2012
I don't have any personal experience with Tolstoy. I read Anna Karenina because I thought that it would be good for me. A big Russian novel. Isn't it good for everyone? Oh dear, that was a hard one to drag myself through ... all that I got out of it was that Russian men are sort of whiny complainers. I understood, from the characters, why the revolution occurred. I didn't even find romance in the novel ... I am embarrassed to say, but none of the story really stuck. And I am at a loss for words in describing it now. So I won't pretend any longer, but what I will say ...

I am looking forward to both of these movies being delivered. As seen by the pages of Vogue, the fashion is going to be OUT OF THIS WORLD. They are going to be beautiful, luxurious films and I imagine they will have a life of their own. I think of what Martin Scorsese did for The Age of Innocence. Gorgeous! A produced visualization of a story can bring it to life. These films will become picture books, and sometimes a narrative needs a beautiful picture to tell a story.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

animal print

Vogue September 2012
I'll have one, please?!

Animal prints ... they are my thing, infused in me from years of knowing my grandmother. She was, in my childhood, the most glamorous thing I had known ... always pink nail polished, Chanel No. 5 dusted, and black mascara'd. She lived in an apartment in the city, and drove a red Mustang. Once, she was to take my brother and I on a weekend trip to the lake house that her family had owned for many years. We were so excited to go on this little adventure with grandma. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate and after having stopped at her city apartment, we were forced to stay. The rain had fallen so fast and furious that most of the viaducts were flooded and she wasn't confident that we could get out. Of course we didn't mind, not at all. We got a chance to stay in the rooms that we had seldom visited in our young lives. Naturally, I thought that everything was exotic. The gold book shelves, the sofa that doubled as a bed when the pillows were removed, and the tiny kitchen made just for one were so novel. Little did I know that she lived in a studio apartment and one even at the very first years that I lived in the city, I wouldn't have dreamt to live in. But at 10, or however old I was, it was the Taj Mahal.

Two pieces of furniture of her's stuck out the most to me ... the director's chairs! Director's chairs? Yes! But the material was cow hide. Talk about totally cool ... I coveted those cow hide director's chairs and many years later, as we cleaned out the apartment after her death, I rediscovered them and claimed them as my own. I first used them in the house I rented with my brother when we were in college. I can remember having a lot of fun with those chairs. I had one friend in particular, who liked to come over, listen to records, and drink wine. Well, when enough wine got in his gullet, he would hop over the chairs as part of his dance moves. I was always amazed that he could just jump right over them. I, on the other hand, was more likely to fall backward out of one. The chairs followed me and in the first couple of apartments that I lived in in the city, one being only a block away from where my grandma had lived, until one of the hides split. Ah, it was time to buy more grown-up chairs anyway. No one was jumping over them, what was their use?

A couple of months ago in a mad clean, I found one of the seats ... intact. I'm sitting on it now! I just can't seem to part with it. And when my 8 year-old niece saw it this summer, she said, 'wow! that is so cool ... is it a cow?' Yes it is! And it is something that I won't ever part with as long as it holds together. I'll just keep repurposing it.

And so ... the purse. The chairs sparked my life-long love of animal print. Once, as a challenge, I dressed for work entirely in animal print ... dress, hose, shoes, necklace. And it didn't look bad ... oh, that was a good day. The Ralph Lauren bag would've made it even better.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


google images
The story of Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor never captured me. And so it has taken me this long to sit down to watch Madonna's film, W.E. Madonna, who co-wrote the script with one of her own, Alex Keshishian, the director of Truth of Dare. The film tells two stories, one of a modern Wallie in the time of the 1987 Sothebey's sale of pieces from the Duke and Duchess's estate; and the historical report of Wallis Simpson's romance with the King of England, but from Wallis's perspective.

The parallel works for the most part ... I think that considering Wallie and her passion for the story of Wallis and Edward's romance is very real. Celebrity attracts attention because the non-celebrity looks to it to find pieces of relatable behaviors or fashion or beauty as evidence of self-value. Wallie is miserable in her life ... she's trapped in a love-less marriage and has given up anything that might have tied her to some thing that she could hold on to. Without any tether, she ties her self to the fantasy of celebrity. Ah, but that isn't a very strong rope ... as she discovers, looks can be deceiving. The part of the parallel that I thought was overdone ... when Wallie would see Wallis and even talk to her. That wasn't necessary, and it took away from any kind of magical element of connection by making it literal. The few people who have seen this film, or who will see it, will get it. We don't need a picture.
Andrea Riseborough
 google images

I don't know enough about the real-life story of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, which were the titles settled on after Kind Edward abdicated, but I imagine Madonna did her homework. Wallis Simpson may have been an ambitiously social climbing girl, who bit off what appeared to be a life of wonder, and was in fact her prison. I don't know. But it isn't hard to imagine given what happens in many celebrities' lives if newspaper accounts and People magazine articles are accurate. Fortunately for Wallie, she can climb out of her fantasy and find a life, unlike Wallis who lived a life-sentence for her ambition.

I'm not sure why Madonna made this film. It's so pedestrian ... I would think that she would find a less worn subject. The only thing that I can come away with is that though she will have us to believe that she's above of it all ... she's still a girl from Michigan who gets a little misty even with her own celebrity with the idea of the gentry. She's kind of like ... oh, Mohamed Al-Fayed, who tried to buy up all of the Duchess's jewelry, and took the lease of their Parisian Mansion. He does make an appearance in the film. Apparently he has had in his possession letters that Wallis had written and exposed the notion that her life was less than fairy tale. Fayed seems to be obsessed with all things Crown, and since Madonna moved over there in her own less than successful marriage also caught the ... the Crown rage.

Of course another reason ... oh, and this is very Madonna! The jewelry! This piece figured prominently in the film, and wouldn't you agree ... she's probably dying to have it. Oh like a prayer!

google images

But the film is beautiful to watch. The settings- superb. And the actor, Andrea Riseborough, who plays Wallis Simpson is magnificent. Wallis Simpson was not, by the pictures that I've seem of her, a looker. Riseborough certainly transformed into the character. Abbie Cornish plays the modern Wallie ... ah, she was o.k. But the Russian security guard at Sotheby's, Oscar Isaac, ... hmmmm ... yeah, trust Madonna to know a good lookin' man.

Friday, September 14, 2012

le nom des gens

google images
It has been a contemplative, exhausting week, and I have been too far away from this .... fortunately a red envelope appeared in my mailbox, which supplied an antidote for the poison if only for a moment ... Le Nom Des Gens. A French movie! Nothing like it to chase away the blues and remind me that life can be sunlit.

One essential element of any French movie, and yes, I may be exaggerating, pops out of the movie poster, n'est-ce pas?! Yes, gratuitous, friendly, light hearted nudity. Someone always gets naked in a French movie. And that's fine by me. It's not ever graphic or demeaning or apologetic ... it's as it should be ... normal.

But I get ahead of myself. The premise of this movie is that Baya, the girl, is half French/ half Algerian. She 'looks' French, but does not use that to escape the issue that continues to face immigrants in Europe ... racism. And she uses her looks and a promiscuity born of a sexually abusive experience with the man hired to teach her how to play the piano to entice right-winger 'fascists' as she sees them to her bed. Give her a few days, and she flips them. She takes a tear-down and brings it up to her code of how one should lead their life.

Ah, then she encounters ... Arthur Martin. A quiet man. A veterinarian who studies dead birds for evidence of bird flu. On the surface, he is a fascist, and so Baya targets him. But Arthur is not the man of his name ... and the taboos that his family abhor are the stuff that Baya can really find comfort in ... Martin's mother is a Holocaust survivor and her parents, Greek, were deported and most of his family were murdered during the war. But his life has been such, that he shields himself from anything with a pulse. And Baya, well her pulse is very prominent and on constant display.

The story, oh sure, was interesting ... especially having just returned from Europe and encountering, again, that Europeans really struggle with immigration, so much more so than here in America. The Names of Love (the English title) really struggles with the issue of what makes one a real Frenchman? Baya can pass ... but her name gives away her heritage. Arthur is named and looks French, but isn't wholly. Can Baya and Arthur, both blended, be really French? Who determines that? And who questions this identity most? The government? Or each individual?

Ultimately, they discover each other. And that is most important. Along the way, and I go back to nudity, is farce. Baya is excitable and her ideas are a little ... shall I say, whack?! She muddles herself ... one of my favorite scenes of the movie is when she's in the grocer with Arthur ... they've finally found each other after their first encounter. She runs to the back of the store to get an item, receives a phone call, runs out of the store late for what she had forgotten and forgets to tell Arthur. Once home, she is bombarded by other's demands and runs out of the apartment to the Metro. She sits down on the train across from a Muslim and his burqa'd wife who looks at her incredulously. Only then does she realize that she's forgotten something ... her clothes. She is naked on the Metro.  And it is, dare I say, normal.

Farce. Frolic. Just plain Fun. Amidst all of the heavy thought of 'am I French, am I not,' sunlight.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

the boss

Laurie Metcalf in the Steppenwolf's Balm in Gilead
Photo from
I've never been a Bruce Springstein fan. The only album that I know well of his is Born to Run. A long time ago when I was very young, a friend had an extra ticket to a play. The play was Balm in Gilead at the Steppenwolf Theater. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and I had no idea the magnitude of what I was seeing, but saw it I did. I was mesmerized by the hugeness of it, and Bruce gave it a sound as a few of songs were played loudly throughout it. I will never forget that night. I'm not sure what the play was about any longer ... but the impression it made on me was huge. It took my heart from my chest, blew it up, wrung it out, and put it back in with sloppy stitches. I immediately bought Born to Run, and lived in the moment for many more. After the play was over, my friend, probably the only really cool person that I knew in high school, and I sat on the steps of the theater in a rain storm trying to figure out what the play was about, how we fit into it, and how we were going to get to the train station that would tuck us back into a world that wasn't anything like the one we had just experienced.

Bruce in Chicago
Photo from
So Bruce ... three hours, half in the rain. I expected ... having read so much about the time that Bruce is on stage, and how the people love him that I would be struck ... not by the lightening that threatened the ball park, but by the energy of the band. But it wasn't there. Now you may argue that not being a fan may have something to do with that, but I was totally ready for the experience of  Bruce. And I love huge! I can jump into the stream and fight along with everyone else upstream. I had high hopes ... the dude in front of me, mouthing every word and wildly pumping his fist, made me think ... yeah, this is going to be good. But the energy wasn't there last night.

Now let me say this ... Bruce is hot. Man, he is good looking! And he has an energy that makes me believe that he's got ... it. From the seats across the field, I could see his constant smile. He, no doubt it, loves to perform. But he never let it take him over. The delivery was very corporate. Songs came flying one after another ... very little transition. Just last note of one song, boom, 1-2-3 and the next began. Without pause, he kept everyone running, running, running. We didn't have a chance to catch our breathe. No pause for reflection. And if the music in and of itself was more driving that might have worked, but the 1-2-3 went into another ... not driving song. Bruce doesn't really rock. OOOHHHH, I know that will not be a popular statement, and I'm not sure that is how best to say it, but that's what it was.

When the rain took over, and everyone tried to run for cover, I had to admit to my friends that the Boss ... just didn't do it for me. I kept thinking of all of the U2 concerts that I've been to over the years ... when you're in that, you know it! You are picked up and carried away in walls of sound and a sense that our spirits were all connected and spilling out of the stadium to permeate the surrounding area with hope. I've taken a few naysayers to one of their concerts and they've all left feeling ... buoyant. I know that is a ... strong endorsement, but if you give yourself to Bono, he will lift you higher. He will push up to 'kiss the sky.'

Another of my favorite bands is Wilco. One of their songs talks to the point that when life gets you down, turn to your band because it will love you ... 'Wilco, Wilco, Wilco will love you baby ...' And when we go to a concert, I believe in some small way, we are looking for a little love. I didn't feel loved by Bruce ... he loves what he does, but it didn't move to blanket me with any of it. Bummer.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

scouse girls

Liverpool Scouse girls

a scouse brow
Curlers in your hair, shame on you! Wasn't that the ad for ... Clairol back in the 70's?! Well now in the 10's, they are raging. In Liverpool, anyway.

The fashion report on the BBC about the Liverpoolian Scouse girls I saw was amusing to say the least, and so much less toxic than how American television would make it out to be (I can just picture a reality show based on scouse ... maybe we already have it ... Jerseylicious? Jersey Shore? oh dear). Yes, they walk around town wearing curlers in their hair ON PURPOSE! Crazy girls! Then, they went on to show the other trend that is part of the look ... eyebrows. And I'm not talking about a Brooke Shields' brow either! I'm talking ... well, look at this one here.

UK Vogue September 2012
UK Elle September 2012
Now, I wouldn't have thought of this again unless I was relating the knowledge to a friend once back home, tucked safely in a world where only a drag queen would walk outside with a brow like that, or a woman running an errand with a head scarf wrapped safely around curlers that were taming a mane for a party later in the day ... but on the flight home yesterday, I sat perfectly happy on a many houred delayed flight in the glory of the September editions of all of my UK favorites and found this editorial picture from UK Vogue. OK, it's a menswear look ... she's being styled man. I get that ... but then there's this ad for H&M ... she's rather pretty, don't you think. She looks very English to me ... the stuff of mersey, almost Charlotte Rampling-esqe.

And just Google 'scouse' and it all comes up ... and what is most, revealing, is the following:

What's worse than Scouse Brow itself is the fact that it appears to have spread outside the confines of Merseyside, and has even been spotted on the streets of Chelsea and at the altar of Westminster Abbey. We've said it before and we'll say it again: The Duchess of Cambridge will live to regret her decision to do her own make-up on her wedding day. If not only for the heavy-handed result, but for the fact that wicked whispers point to Kate's bridal maquillage as the possible inspiration for the whole Scouse Brow movement.
As Kate's great, great, great, great grandmother-in-law would say: We are not amused. (

I knew it! As I sat in my fancy dress, watching the wedding with a group of girls also in fancy dress, I thought ... love the dress, but her make-up looks like a ... drag queen's! But how could it be??? She's Kate! She's getting married to a Prince! She's on television for millions to see! What was she thinking? Man, she dodged the bullet by taking the curlers out, Pippa must have had to wrestle them away from her!
I have to be honest though ... whenever I kohl my eyebrows, which are quite substantial in their own right, though don't look it to the uninformed see-er as they are golden hued, but I kind of like it. They appear so dramatic ... and they make my eyes pop and seem so very blue. Oh, what would it be if I took the chance, was bold, and walked outside with charcoaled brows .... and a roller or two in my locks.

Do they sell curlers anymore? Must check it out so that I too can scouse-up too. I'll start the trend here. As it was very obvious that the girls picked up on my look from, oh, 20 years ago when I visited the UK last ... yeah, I was rocking the tights and denim short look. I have a picture of myself kissing the Blarney Stone with that look. And this visit, I saw it everywhere. It took that long for the look to latch. I don't know if I have the desire for scouse to take as long to ... hook.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

the ghost in me

Home from the tramp across England and Scotland ... and I picked up a ghost. Yes, I am committing it to print, and I don't mind if you, dear reader whoever you may be, think that I'm just makin' it up ... or imagining it for the sake of the story. But I am not. And even though I mulled over it for days, even still, I am so ... full of it ... that I have to tell it one more time.

After a long day of driving, which I love doing ... but is challenging when on the other side of the road, which in and of itself isn't bad, but for the fact that the gear shift is on the left and it is my right hand that is rote with the motion ... and the winding roads up and down mountains ... made me tired. After dinner and a pint, my head hit the pillow and I was out. I was in a twin bed next to my mother, also snug in her twin.

At some time in the night, I awoke, sat straight up and a huge force escaped my diaphragm ... I grunted, not screamed. Light after the leaving, I fell back down, turned to my mother and gasped, 'did it come through the window?' I should confess that I have been known to sleep walk and talk and have vivid, sometimes horrifying, dreams ... my mother has seen it all out of me and so yeah, yeah, yeah'd me and went back to sleep.

But what was it? Who was it? It felt like it left ... where did I pick it up. But I wonder if it came in through the window ... did it come and then leave? I have so many questions, and I really do wonder.

It didn't scare me though ... I didn't get up to close the window.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

westminster abbey

Westminster Abbey hasn't changed much since the last time that I visited in ... oh, 1991. Oi, has it been that long? Yes, it has been that long and from what I remembered of it, it didn't cost 16 GBP. I imagine the cost to keep the place up is dear ... I don't mind supporting it.

This time 'round, rather than just rambling around inside of antiquity, I signed up for a tour ... only 4 GBP for 90 minutes with a verger, a guy that's only job is to know what's for and change the linens (he told me that!).
We had to battle the crowds, but he'd get us in a small group and give us more that we could handle. My mind was numb with trying to keep up with the lineage, the Kings, the Queens ... she had 16 children?Worth the numbness ... first, we were allowed to sit in the choir loft ... well, it's not a loft. You've seen the pictures ... the row of seats very near to the alter. The best seats in the house with the most light ... the little red lanterns were adorable. As we sat there, he spoke about THE wedding ... as we had walked up the main aisle to the choir, I couldn't help but think of Kate and the trip that she made up it. She had a long road to go to get to her man at the end ... more ways that one I imagine. Sitting there, I gazed up at the side doors and wondered what went on as the group moved to the back to sign the registry on the wedding day. I don't have to imagine ... because he took us up a little side step and through a door to the room behind the altar where among dead Kings, Queens, and a saint, William and Kate signed their marriage into the books. So super cool.

Our verger was an odd sort, swirling his black cassock around as he led us from one point to the next.
As we moved forward, he pulled up next to me and said, 'Where are you from?' I told him. 'First time to London?' No. 'First time to the Abbey?' I slapped him with my map as in no silly, 'I was here for the Wedding.' To which he wrinkled up his snout and clasped his hands together, 'Oh! I was here for that!'

I wonder what that verger does when no one is around?