Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day 2012

I was watching Modern Family, and Phil Dunphy said exactly what I think, that Leap Day is a bonus day! And it should be celebrated. I like having parties! Or making something special of the day. After seeing the movie Leap Year last year, I looked up the tradition of asking a man to marry to me to see if it was really so. I will take any lead to make a plan for something. And what I found, is that sure enough it has been a tradition since the Middle Ages that on Leap Day, women have the opportunity to ask a man out, or ask him to marry her. Bam! Who the heck am I going to ask out? That is all I need.

I thought about it, and I did have someone in mind. I did some research. I thought that a nice dinner would be appropriate. I pick the place. I pick him up. I pay the bill. Lovely company, a good cocktail, a nice dinner ... what better way to spend an extra day of the year?!

Well, it didn't happen. Guys are weird. I didn't ask. I knew what the answer would be.  I've heard no from this particular fella for longer than I would like to own up too. His loss, right?

March 1st Roar

Instead I found myself wandering around the neighborhood. The weather went from good to blustery in 5. I turned west, and had a hard time pushing against the wind. Now, I'm hardy girl, but it was windy, and I had to fight it several blocks to get back home. I was glad to turn the corner and move south. A little sad, but I was able to move my thoughts from the failed Leap Year opportunity that I won't get for another 4 years, to the idea that March, tomorrow, is coming in like a lion. No lamb in this town. I don't remember if the Groundhog saw its' shadow or not, but there may be some snow tonight in what has been a relatively mild winter. Winter may come roaring back.

Maybe I should plan something special for 'in like the lion....' It's an idea!

Alouette, gentille Alouette

Alouette, gentille Alouette
Alouette, je te plumerai
Je te plumerai la tête
(Je te plumerai la tête)
Et la tête
(Et la tête)

The Target commercial is transcendent. As soon as the hot air balloon hits the ground, the bright happy people jump out and change the world around them. What is better than that. It reminds me of the French film, Window to Paris. In it, characters discover a portal in their communal apartment in Moscow that transports them to Paris. The sad music teacher who has recently moved in, brings his children with him, and they dance and sing in the same semi-spastic way as the dancers in the commercial do through the cobbled streets of the City of Light. Their lives are dull and cramped living in the former communist state, and when on the streets of Paris, voila, transcendence. Of course the newly capitalist, curmudgeon'd couple who control the apartment also find the window, transport to France, and dismantle a car to bring back through. Does Target sell cars, too?!

The ad also reminds me of Yeats' poems, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, which addresses transcendence. He (Yeats) 'will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree ... There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow.' The balloon has landed, the window found, and all is well. Color and rhyme pull him, and us, out of the drudgery of normal day-to-day life, and spiffen us up. We're popping with what's possible. It's been turned on its head.

Brilliant. This version of the song is so catchy ... I wonder if I can buy it at ITunes?! I love it! It immediately brightens my day, and sticks to my heart.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sir Paul

from Rolling Stone Magazine
Sir Paul in concert 2011
I was excited to see Sir Paul on the cover of Rolling Stone this week. I went straight to the article and plowed in. He is recording a rockin' album to follow up this year's 'Kisses on the Bottom.' Sir Paul is 70 this year! And that's why he says that he's going right back to rockin'. I saw him this summer and it was an amazing three hour show on a very hot summer night. He played all of my favorite Beatle and Wings songs, and left some of his lesser known solo work at the turnstile. Magic.

Yeah but ... ooh, I don't know about Kisses on the Bottom.  I was really looking forward to listening to it, and knew that it would be my 'album' of the moment. I have skipped the whole Rod Stewart thing with the standards ... there's something perverse about him singing those songs ... especially the arrangements. It did not work for me. He, Rod, should have retired or gone the Robert Plant route. Reinvent himself (there goes that Madonna creeping in again!)

But Paul sang this genre as a Beatle ... 'When I'm 64,' 'She's Leaving Home,' 'Eleanor Rigby' ... these are like Frank or Bing or Nat. When I first listened to Kisses on the Bottom, I thought, oh maybe I'm hearing something wrong here ... these songs seem so ... flat. So I listened again. Flat. Listened again .... really flat. Oh Paul, what have you done? I know that it is being reviewed really well, and I must say the music is delightful and Diane Krall is excellent, but Paul's singing ... boring. He isn't his usual bubbly self, and maybe the hushed tone is meant to be ... sexy?! I don't know ... it's not cool.

Then I read the Rolling Stone article. The read was fine, and you may think that the quote I include above is meant as a testament to what I think is right about Paul, but it isn't that. When I got to the end and he talked about how 'Yesterday' came to him in a dream, and he didn't rule out God's role in it. But then the journalist said, "McCartney always seemed to be the least spiritually inclined Beatle ... There's no "My Sweet Lord" in his repertoire- not even and "Across the Universe." I wondered about whether God really is in his vernacular.

That's it. It isn't just about being 'cool.' Cool has to be supported with something more ... soul. A belief in more than dreams. Paul admits in the article that he's done with weed (pot), and I wonder if he isn't still in the fog of that ...his pronouncement is stoner-like. I want more from him. I expect more from him. And though 'Obladi Oblada' is a great ditty, it isn't 'Happiness is a Warm Gun." Paul isn't worried about anything ... that's why he looks so good at 70. Or maybe he looks so good because he's been stoned for so long ... mellow. Mellow doesn't draw lines on one's face or character, I suppose.

Paul isn't ready to sing the standards. He's got to live more. Grab it and all that it means to its core and heights, and then maybe he can do it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Iron Lady

Meryl Streep.

The lady, who at award shows always dresses like a house-Frau, and seems a little loopy and pretty boozy, is a bloody good actress. Oh, don't get me wrong, she looks like she is A LOT of fun. And then she does a movie ...

She was divine in The Iron Lady. I haven't seen all of the movies or actors that are nominated for this year, and probably won't by the time the Oscars air, but I know that she should win. She is transformative. In the opening scenes, knowing full well that she is playing Margaret Thatcher, I wondered ... is that really her? The make-up and hair person for her was phenomenal, but even without that, or she may need that, she is the character. She is the person. The last scene as she walks away from her husband's leaving toward eternity, she is exactly as an old woman would walk away from her life. Shoulders shifted forward, a shuffling of slippered feet, a shove of a chair squeezed by, and then on down the hall.

The movie itself played out like a news reel of sorts. I rather liked it. More than once, which I don't have habit of doing, I remarked to my friend who saw the movie with me. First there was the footage of old Thatcher give it to the unions ... hello Billy Elliott! Having seen the movie and stage musical of BE, I find that the musical captured the time much better than the movie. As the reel played, I expected to see Billy tap around the blockades and angry mobs of miners.

Then there was the war against Argentina over the Falklands. I don't remember much of that from real time, but it's there in a fuzzy kind of way. Of course more remarkably is that Prince William is there now, and poor Catherine must do without her man for 6 long weeks as he helicopters around.

The other story that really caught my attention was the time that Thatcher let the Irish political prisoners die in their hunger strike. They demanded to be treated as political prisoners, and not criminals. I began a poem in high school about this topic, and finished when I went to college. I was walking to the Student Center one day, and this big guy in his blue puffy coat that I always saw around, was holding up a sign, 'give Ireland back to the Irish.' I tried to imagine what that was all about without really having any knowledge of it. A few years ago, an excellent film was released, Hunger, which told the story of those prisoners and the leader in the strike, Bobby Sands. I remembered him especially from that time. The film is gruesome and captivating ... sublime.

Meryl made me think of this ....

Give Ireland Back to the Irish

a brightly coloured wrapper
on a deserted street
as the victim's profile
is fused
to the standing wall of a church.

a man lays motionless
in a guarded after-life
as black masked soldiers mourn,
more coloured wrappers.

mimicking his brothers,
a red freckled child
the splinters of colour
whirling in the smoky air.

a lonely man,
smiles lustfully
as he stands on a cement block,
a thousand miles away
holding a limp piece of cardboard reading,
'give Ireland back to the Irish.'


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday

the finish line
40 days. 40 nights.

I imagine the desert sun. A linen tunic. Rope sandals.

I remember walking along the Camino de Santiago, not too far from the finish line. Yes, I realize that a pilgrimage should probably end at an arrival at the religious destination, or whatever, but I like sport analogies. It's halftime during a play, not intermission. One gets up, goes to the bathroom, and gets a drink, right? How is that different than at a football game?! And since I hiked the last one hundred miles for my Pilgrim's Certificate, I saw the church as the finish line!

the camino
For most of the hike, I wandered through evergreened forests, along cobbled roads, and along stony brooks up the side of the mountain. I ran into a herd of cows (yes, my sister was there, but that is for another post), a flight of deer across a nettled floor, and into the same Roman Ruins that pilgrims have walked passed or sat on for over a thousand years. It was a wonder ... all of it.

the camino
But then near to the end, I hit an airport that I had to walk around. It was at the end of the day, and I had already walked maybe twelve or thirteen miles. I turned the corner out of a wood and hit it. Where it had been cool and scented for miles, it became unbearably hot and dirty. I didn't think that I would make it round. I felt like I was melting into the grass that surrounded the runways. I had a kerchief that I had used to be pilgrim-y, so I tied four corner knots and made a delightful make-shift hat. My legs felt heavier and heavier with each step. And all I could think about was, not the Coca-Cola that Claire, my Australian teammate, always welcomed me with at the end of the race ... she was always five minutes ahead, no matter what I did, or how fast I walked. Of course, those that know me, know that that can be pretty slow. And my slow arse, couldn't wait for an ice-cold BEER. I made it to the end. And Claire and our guide were seated at a restaurant ready to eat a big meal, and I grumbled through parched lips, no thanks, give me a cerveza ... a big one, and keep 'em coming.

Jesus had wine. But I doubt he had any on his journey.  I wonder if he had much water. I've been thinking about this today, and trying to identify what I should do to honor this commitment. I'm not much for 'giving up' something. I'd rather do something that would be good for me ... and something that I'm not doing, so it could be called a hardship. I don't think that is such an original concept. And so today, I began my journey through 40 days. I will do some kind of active behavior everyday. I will not define. Limit it. I will just do it. And make a calendar to mark off the days because I like to check off a list.

I also abstained from meat today. And will for Fridays. It's good to eat fish. I came home today from a tour of the neighborhood, and am making potato soup for dinner. I remember my mother making it when we were young, and it was always so yummy. Also wanting to clean out my fridge a little, I've tossed in a few extras from my mom would have done.

Here's the recipe ....

1 onion
4 celery stalks
2 carrot sticks

I food processed these because I'm not always the best chopper, and since I will infusion blend the soup, I thought that this would be a good idea. I sauteed the above in olive oil and smidge of butter.

4 peeled potatoes

I added water to the pot. Cubed the potatoes and threw them in to boil. I added some seasonings:

Sea Salt
Pepper (lots)
Herbs de Provence ('cause I like it)

Once the potatoes were soft, I added a little (1/8 cup) heavy cream that I had left over from some chocolate sauce I had made for a friend, and skim milk. And then infusion blended it.

The result ... YUMMY. I've got to remember this for the future when I have other foodstuffs aging on the shelf.

40 days. We can all do it, if we are purposed.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Downton Abbey

If you heard my screams last night, it was because the last installment of the second season of Downton Abbey came to an end. I am not a band wagoner on this, and I've hesitated to even address this officially, but I have found that I must. The story that has warmed my heart now during two wintry Januarys, and this year's February, puts into action all that I've ever learned of the period. And I write now to reveal that it is poetry that introduced me to the drama, not the show's creator, Julian Fellowes.

While in graduate school, I took a wonderful class of Modern Poetry. Several evenings were spent discussing the work of the World War I poets, and it is here that the story unfolds.

First we have Wilfred Owen. A young man, who after having met Siegfried Sassoon (another war poet) during a brief return from the front, returned to the front with a renewed zeal to capture his experiences in verse. He died in France before the Armistice, and his poems were published posthumously. One of my particular favorites of his is the sonnet:

Anthem for a Doomed Youth (1920)

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
       - Only the monstruous anger of the guns.
       Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
       Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
       Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
       The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Typically, sonnets are meant to be beautiful, and I suppose Owen locked up the horrors of the war in the structure of it, an English sonnet (abab cdcd efef gg). The 'Anthem' from the title lends a religious connotation ... a funeral service. The 'passing -bells, ' signal death, by the 'guns' and 'rifles' rapid rattle.' The alliteration of 'rifles' rapid rattle' is hard and fast. The war is loud and frenzied. The prayers, 'orisons,' are 'hasty,' as I would expect them to be in the trenches. No voices are heard except for the 'choirs' of shells, and the 'bugles calling for them from sad shires.' The bugle would play out taps, the angels call, and the 'shires' are the homes that the boys fighting have left behind. The second section of the poem moves to the domestic front. The quiet of the funeral. The 'girls' brows shall be their pall,' the pall being the death cloth/shroud. The 'slow-dusk' is death coming slowly. And the alliteration of 'drawing-down' slows the pace even more so, indicating that death is drawn out in little deaths every day. As one can imagine it to happen in the trenches at the front.

While studying these poems, the professor showed scenes from the film All's Quiet on the Western Front to illustrate the brutality of trench warfare. Downton Abbey also showed in its war episodes the trenches, and the heir to the estate was wounded in a scene very similar to what Owen describes in his poem. At the end of the last episode, Julian Fellowes was shown on set for the war scenes and he even yelled out, 'I want it loud ...'

One of the other story lines in the show is that of the Irish chauffer. He is into politics, in love with one of the daughters, and he has the desire to marry her and move back to Ireland to fight what will become the Irish War of Independence. So of course, I couldn't help but be reminded of Yeats' poem:

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death (1919)
I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

One thing that wasn't shown in the Downton Abbey's war scenes was airplanes. WWI was the first war where airplanes were used in battle. The average live expectancy of a pilot was three weeks.  Yeats' good friend was fellow Irishwoman, Lady Gregory, and her only son died in WWI, as many only sons died. The title of this poem is very important to understand. It is an 'Irish' airman, not a British one, though he is Irish-Anglo. Let's look at the poem.

The pilot will meet his 'fate,' because he is a flier, and has a life expectancy of three weeks. He does not fight his enemy, 'those that I fight I do not hate.' Nor does he fly to protect Britain, 'those that I guard I do not love.' He says, 'my country is Kiltartan Cross,' which is a small town near Coole, which was one of Lady Gregory's residences in Ireland. His countrymen are 'Kiltartan's poor,' who are the Irish Catholics. He explains that his involvement, his fighting, does not affect them as they have nothing to lose ... it isn't their war either, 'No likely end could bring them loss/ or leave them happier than before.'

So why does he fly? It is not for patriotism, that has been established, 'nor law, nor duty bade me flight; for public men, nor cheering crowds.' Rather, it is 'a lonely impulse of delight.' 'Lonely' is a key here. Yeats is political and he surely sees the Irish-Anglo as being as isolated as the Catholics were in Ireland. The airplane is certainly above the trenches that Owen talks to, so it could be delightful. There's no rapid firing; instead, it is only a 'tumult in the clouds.' He is rather ambiguous as to his role in the war, the 'waste of breathe' repeated demonstrates this feeling. Perhaps in his mind, the only thing that matters is right now, 'in balance with this life, this death.' His end is a balance of life and death, which is actually anyone's at any given moment, I suppose.

And the last poem that comes to mind is T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. And for the sake of my reader's consideration, I will only address several lines, as it has taken me more readings than I can possibly remember to get a handle on this master work. It is a poem that I think of often, probably because it is so challenging, and well, brilliant. While watching the last several episodes, I wasn't really very happy with the story line of Lord Grantham carrying on with the maid when he'd been very in love with his wife all along, but I suppose as Eliot writes, the war ruined what was of England. It had to reinvent itself, and since Madonna wasn't around yet, they didn't know how to do that! Oh goodness, forgive me, we need a little levity as I move through this ....


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch.
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s,
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled,
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went.
In the mountains, there you feel free.
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.    (1922)

The poem, as whole, is one of fragments. The title shows that it is not only the 'land' that is a 'waste.' 
By separating the normally compound word, Eliot points this out to the reader. The poem is also a questpoem. The first line of the first section begins, 'April is the cruelest month.' April is the month that the 
pilgrims began their quest to reach Canterbury. To read Eliot, one needs a very strong background in 
the Bible, all literature, and everything else because he makes constant allusions to the past. The man 
dug the past. He also was not English. He was born in America. And his crazy wife? Well, she was 
institutionalized for what we now know to be a hormone imbalance. He wasn't great with the ladies ... he didn't get them. Just read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. And the first lines of this poem.

Eliot continues with 'breeding/ Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/ Memory and desire, stirring/ Dull 
roots with spring rain.' Egads! Sexy, sexy, sexy. But he wants none of it. Spring is universally 
recognized as the symbol of birth and beginnings. It is lustful.The bulbs are pushing up out of the dead ground (England after the war) because that is what nature does. It is painful. And it is wanting. The Earth is reborn, but can England be born again? Eliot would rather forget and writes, 'Winter kept us war, covering/ Earth in forgetful snow, feeding/ A little life with dried tubers.' He likes numb. The worst has passed, let's not move, and have only what we need to survive. The next lines of the poem speak to before the war, childhood memories 'staying at the arch-duke's.' Of course, it was the assassination of said duke that started WWI.

At the end of Season II, we are in this time after the war. Characters have died in the war and others aredead from the outbreak of the Spanish Flu that killed millions of Englishmen. The story has faithfully followed my poetic education, and I look forward to Season III and more evidence of the idea that I have that life is poetry. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012


February 2012
I rather like a frog. I'm not sure that Gray & Farrar could find a prince that meets to my expectation. Of course the prince is, we know or should know, a fantasy. He is a perfect man. Handsome in a Rupert Graves sort of way (it's my fantasy); with a keen intelligence like ... oh, smart guys that I've met; and creative and charming and witty and well-dressed and sexy and thoughtful and poetic and sympathetic and mannered and shiny and well ... not a real man, at all. He is like the David Cassidy poster from my Teen Beat magazine back in the day. Oh how I loved how his feathered hair! He thought he loved me, and I believed him.

Who wants that. Give me the frog. Someone I can tidy up after, annoy with my endless musings about what happened on any given day, and love messily. Erratically. Though committedly. Don't sell me short Gray & Farrar. I can love a frog.

A boy at a lake once took my David Cassidy poster (conveniently, I always had one on hand), pinned it to a dart board. took a dart, pinned a fish to it, and then used it as target practice, splattering guts and gill all over the feathered hair, and dreamy smile.

That's my frog. I take it down, tidy it up a bit, and it still makes me to swoon. Rib-it.

A Chanel Mermaid

Tatler February 2012
In a Sunday magazine read, I open Tatler to this spectacular Chanel advertisement. Tatler is a very guilty pleasure! When travelling abroad in the past, I would pick up Hello! to get my Anglo-fix. Then, much to my delight, I was turned on to Tatler by a woman, who lived in my building and was moving to NYC. In a farewell dinner, we discovered, too late, that we had so much more in common than 2307. We relished in our descriptions of just when we read Tina Brown's Diana Chronicles, and our own take on the gruesome accident and France's mishandling of the princess's life. I had always imagined this woman to be only serious and not prey to the silliness of Anglo-fanning ... oh! the stories of Diana, the lives of those who live on the great estates, and Masterpiece Theater. Now, whenever I get a chance, I find a newsstand and shell out the $9 for half hour of English delight.

Although, I love all things French ... wine, cheese, Paris, the South, couture, cinema, Chanel perfume ... but I believe that I really have an English aesthetic. I have toured the grand chateaux of the Loire Valley, and certainly have been to Versailles, but those, as remarkable as they are, are cold. Aloof. I will admit that I've not been anywhere in England except for London, so my view is imaginary. Though I have spent plenty of time in Ireland, I will not make the mistake of putting its beauty-being in the same sentence as its ... past. What I've seen of England has been in books and movies. And like the Secret Garden, I'm enchanted by the charm of what is not schemed. I appreciate the mess, for lack of a better word, of the lawn, and the labyrinth of wild flowers. In France, the grounds are always manicured, sculptured, and mathematical. And this is awesome, but one cannot lose oneself in a line. I like a zig and a zag, and a 'will I ever find my way out of this.'

Fashion for me is much like the gardens. The French wear uniforms ... very Napoleonic. Women arm themselves with good cuts, excellent fabrics, and step out in essentially the same outfits everyday. Oh yes, they appear effortless, graceful. There is a mystique to the French beauty. I'm afraid that I'm not that mysterious. I'm open. Reader friendly. And the English, though appearing uptight, are actually really very nutty. And their style is reflective of it. Open a British Vogue or Elle and you'll find thrown together looks that are quirky, unmatched, but so wonderful to look at. It's unfortunate that Catherine and Pippa are dominating the English scene right now. They are very uniformed, and I find even with their wonderful figures that everyone likes to discuss, kind of boring. Catherine received rave reviews for that navy, Alexander McQueen outfit that she's worn several times, and I think, oh lord! is she wearing granny's clothes again. She looked like a toy soldier.

But back to mermaid. When I opened the magazine and saw this ad, I was thunderstruck. The dress is sublime. It is Emma Watson wearing it and she wears it well. A magical dress, a girl with a magical pedigree. I love the styling of the school girl shoes and socks; it is what makes the vision human ... used to a great tail, the sensible shoes will make the transition from swim to walk easier. The dress, if you can tell by the scan, is the sea. It's the froth that covers the beach as the waves hit the sand.The mermaid in her human form, lifts her face to the sky to feel the sun on scale-less skin. Her nails pearly, oystered.

I have not seen this ad in the US magazines ... yet, perhaps it will fall into the March issues. I believe that we can take it on this side of the pond ... we need a bit of otherworldliness to tide us over ...

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I ran across the word 'perhapser' while reading Albert Nobbs, the novella by Irish author George Moore. I had seen the movie and was interested in how true it was to the original work, and I found a word to get stuck on.

Perhapser. It was used in the context of .... 'he is a perhapser.' He is a maybe-er ... ah, not quiet the cut that perhapser makes.

I'm taken with this word, this expression, because I've come up against too many of that kind. The perhapser has no intention of following through with whatever it is that is the question before them. It's a word usually spoken quietly. It is not a consideration. It is a pause and a genial way of saying no. One wouldn't want to offend he who is asking.

I don't understand it. Say yes. Say no. But say yes to me of course! Don't give me that wiggly dance of I know you want this, and I don't, so I'll, in my mind, satisfy with a perhaps. Goodness, there's no satisfaction in that. It's passion-less. It's frustrating. And it keeps me on a line when what I really need to do is say, NO! I don't accept that!

Perhaps, I should consider the other side. Perhaps, I should, for once, be beguiling and allow the other to think that I'm willing to be genial, but not cooperative. It is such a tease. And that I am not. I can not bear this perhapser. It is too cruel.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Clarice from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer
At lunch, I was in the position that I'm sure many face when they eat with a group of people, in the middle. On my right, two were talking to me about one thing; and on the other side, someone else was trying to get me to pay attention to him! I couldn't hear either. The 'him' was impatient, and I finally said, hey, they're talking to me too, and I can't pay attention to both! So he moved closer, and said quietly, maybe if I bat my eyes at you, you'll listen. And so he began to talk, and he would pause to bat his eye lashes. I was so captivated by the eyelash batting that I still don't know what the heck he was talking about. And at one point, I started to laugh because he seemed so Clarice-like. He does have big round eyes, and so his batting was very effective ... well, kind of. I finally laughed out, "stop it, my nose is starting to blink like Rudolf's." oh jeez.

Whole Living March 2012
Then in my magazine read this morning, I found the following from Whole Living, one of my new favorite magazines. Apparently, eyelashes are indeed big communicators. In the article, David Givens, PhD, director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies, in Spokane, Washington, said, "eyelash batting is an ancient, unconscious signal of interest, and in almost every culture around the world, women have worked to make their lashes longer and more visible ... think about silent movies- before there was sound to lend to drama, there were lashes."

Of course the article went on to give tips for keeping lashes ... battable:

1.  Eyelash curler ... yeah, I buy one every few years and just don't see how to work the darn thing! Then I end up throwing it out because it constantly falls out of the medicine cabinet.

2.  Good mascara ... one they suggest has 'natural plumping ingredients?!' I tried plumping lip gloss and I didn't see any more plump. I've been sticking to Maybelline. In every magazine I have ever read, at some point in the year, it is said to be the standard. I did get a tester from Chanel for a new serum last month, and liked it. But then I remembered when I used to love the Estee Lauder sample mascara in the gift, would buy a big tube, and then be disappointed. The woman at the Lauder counter said that she often heard that complaint, and figured that the bigger tube allowed for more air to get into the product making it dryer.
Maybe I won't buy that expensive tube of Chanel.

3.  Make-up remover. Still working on this one. I do wash my face every night, but found that I still had rings of mascara under my eyes in the morning. A friend gave me Neutrogena eye make-up remover, which I used through several more purchased bottles, but still found that I had a bit of the raccoon in the morning. I switched to baby oil because I thought that it would be good for the tender tissue (wrinkles) around the eye to soak up. The jury is still out on that one too. Raccoons are kind of sexy, right?!

4.  Another natural lash growth serum (see # 2).

Well anyway, when I was a kid, I had an allergist, who when first looking me in the eye said to me, "what is it about girls with allergies, they always have the longest lashes." So I'm in pretty good bat form due to a preexisting condition!

And I have learned that I do love for someone to bat their eyelashes at me. They could be reading a grocery list, or talking about ... oh think of the most tedious topic in the world, and it wouldn't matter. Bat the lashes up and down (wide-eyed accompaniment is essential), and my nose will glow.


Live from the Met

Saturday. Noon. Trying to concentrate on chores. I turn on the classical music station to listen to the opera.

I first went to the opera when I was in high school. I remember being there in the magnificent building, which I was really impressed by, but the opera itself, not so much. I think that I cozied down into my seat, and, uncharacteristically, took a nap. Years later, again with students, I had the opportunity, and I was thrilled to go, but it had the same effect on me.

What are they singing? Why doesn't anything seem to be happening? Why is it so warm in here? Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.

But then I discovered Live at the Met on Saturday afternoons. It is the perfect background for mundane tasks. It's theatrical and can move from soft to hard, low to high, in a moment. It matches my breathing as I move from scrubbing to folding to bending over.

On a trip to Titgnano, Italy, my mother and stayed in a wonderful old ... castle. It was in a remote region, near to Orvieto in Umbria. Since it was out in the middle of nowhere, dinner was served every evening and was a part of the price of the room- very Room with a View like. Every evening we were seated with people that the host thought would be companionable dinner mates ... in other words, other English speakers. One gentleman that we ate with for several evenings was David, a school master from England; I believe near to Oxford, though I may be wrong on that one. A regular to the region and Titgnano,  he was looking forward to his nephew coming to Italy and putting him up for a holiday as he did for him when he was growing up. In our conversation, which was always lively, he mentioned that he listened to the Met every Saturday evening at 6 o'clock. I was amazed and told him that I too listen to the Met at the same time!

I am not sure what it is, but I love the idea that he sits thousands of miles away in his home and does exactly what it is that I'm doing. It's wonderful. And though I knew David for only the hours of a few dinners, I will always have that connection to him. I am tethered to him. It is so much more satisfying than what has become the standard for connection- technology. I much rather my heart feel a pull of the feeling that comes from knowing that I know what he is doing right now even though I can't see him, and will never talk to him again.

How many can say the same for? Many. And in the quiet of an afternoon as I fold towels and listen to the bassoons and tenor play out the scene, my heart is lit up from the strings that hold it around the world.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Lay Your Head Down

I sat frozen in my theater seat. Watching the credits rolling and knowing that I needed a moment to find the strength to rise and leave. The song that held the credits caught me. Lay Your Head Down. I waited until the last roll and I knew, of course, Sinead O'Connor. Who better to bring comfort to what was a quiet, though excruciatingly painful film.

I went to see Albert Nobbs.

I am on an Oscar run. I am always familiar with the movies, but this year, for some reason, I've decided that I need to see all of the Best Picture and Best Actress films before the Oscar telecast. Not always an easy task; some movies I don't particularly care to see. But I love the movies, and there must something in it, if the film has been nominated, right?

Albert Nobbs, I wanted to see this one. I left a not-so-great day at work, and though I thought of the chores that needed tending to at home, I turned right, not left, and made my way to the 4:25 show. I thought that I would have the theater to myself when I first settled in; however, others came. And I was glad for it. I needed beating hearts around me to know that I was indeed alive in this world.

Mr. Page
Glenn Close was very good in the film. As I said, it was a quiet one, and she gave a very controlled, reserved performance. I recognized several of the other actors as well. Two of the women were from The Committments. And the hotel owner where Nobbs worked was in one of my favorites, Shirley Valentine. Jonathan Rhys Meyers showed up too, though unremarkable. I was taken at how old they all looked, and thought, jeez, where has the time gone? Hadn't I just seen those films? 
But Close was fine. I was taken by her hands. Her face looked like  without make-up, womanly. Yes, to some extent, she took on male mannerisms, but it was her hands that ever really made me think of her as a man. Who I was taken with was the actress, who played Mr. Page, also another woman living as a man in late 19th Century Ireland. She, Janet McTeer,  was a man. I give the Oscar to her. I was convinced that she was a man, and was attracted to her swagger.

Of course all of this chatter has nothing to do with what froze me to my seat. Before going, I had started reading the novella that the film is based on by Irish writer George Moore. I'm looking forward to going back into it. From the first, it seems that Glenn Close, who is one of the screenwriters for the film, was very true to the original word.

I have read enough other Irish prose to know that a recurrent theme until even recently is of the oppression of women in Irish society; the limited opportunities- social, education, or domestic- afforded them; and how the man, himself, was often full of a frustration at the hand of the colonizer or brutality of the bottle, and so colonized and brutalized his women. This was the case for both of the women in this film.

I couldn't help considering while sitting there, how many live hiding from their true selves because of interior (perceived) or outward oppression? Yes, I am going to pull all of the way out there. It is what made me so sad and feeling, lonely from watching Albert make his way. I don't feel that I hide, but I certainly know others. And I couldn't help thinking of my recently dead friend, Jeffrey. To this page, he doesn't mean much, but to me, he was someone .... who I could never hide from. As Albert lay dying, and hearing his name called just some one person caring about his well-being that made all of the difference to whether his life was worth living at all, I thought of him. Jeffrey died alone. Left for dead, for days. No one called. No one stopped by. No one. Living away from him, I didn't have the opportunity.

Stuck, I repeat the comforting mantra I have been reciting in my head since November, I know exactly what our last conversation was about. Who laughed. Who explained. Who listened. It took the beeping of two phones out of gas to end the conversation. And I told him that I love him.

I was Helen. I stood on the other side of the door and knocked. He smiled. And he died.

I'm left like Helen now. I don't see a Mr. Page ... yet. So many say to find him in myself. But I know what it is to hear that voice on the other side of the door, and cannot be satisfied with what is only in myself. I won't hide from it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Accident list: a taxi, a bus, what next?

A taxi hit my car, my Bridget, today.

6:55 a..m. On the route to work, mindlessly listening to the radio, not the Seal CD that I have been listening to only since I bought it last week, and wham! I'm hit. My little car is being bent.

Well, it wasn't actually a 'wham.' I saw its' yellow newness coming at me in my side view mirror. It was coming fast. I looked ahead and had no options. Traffic. Five lanes of traffic moving toward the tunnel that is always the slow down during peak travel times. Like a waltz, the taxi engaged. Pushed me over. I swerved toward a car on the right, but was able to steer back into my lane.

Back and forth. Side to side. Swaying to the rhythm of life moving. Safe. No five car pile up on my account ... I know how to dance.

But how is it that my car has also had a bus ask it to dance? It was before Bridget, and the accordioned middle moved me across the floor as it maneuvered across the lanes. That was a rough one. It didn't pay attention to me and left me with a flat tire.

What will be next? A police car? A fire truck? A train? Zut alors! I can only imagine how my toes will feel after that tango.

Insurance? It will unbend Bridget. It replaced the other's tire. But what of me? How will I move to next?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ode to a kid from the East

what a big bird!

I claim temporary insanity
every time you wear red.
I become Magilla Gorilla
and want to peel your skin
and gobble you up.

oh baby

whenever I walk by a fountain
I want to jump in and 
pick up pennies with my toes.


if I were one hundred percent
I'd stick a tag on my back
and let you wear me.