28 April 2008

Tonight, tonight

When I was in middle school, I discovered West Side Story. My friends and I used to email each other the lyrics to Officer Krupke, and I marvelled at the soaring high notes of Tonight. But I never appreciated the artistry of the dancing, of Jerome Robbins' beautiful choreography, until I saw his West Side Story Suite performed by the New York City Ballet this weekend. Such simplicity, and such contrasting sharpness. I felt like I was inhaling passion and exhaling raw truth.

24 April 2008

Coming soon

I have a wise and introspective post in me. I do. I'm just exhaustemotional (that's my combination of exhausted and emotional), indulging a bit of the quarter life crisis, being ridiculous per usual, and coming off of a trip back home to Cleveland for a few days...and a trip home (at least for me) is always interesting. I don't have that closeness with my family that a lot of people have. They are wonderful and I love them, but in some way I will always feel like I'm the child about whom it has to be said, "Oh, yes, she certainly does her own thing," with a wave of the hand, or *hearty chuckle*, "HollyG [note: not my real name, haha] does seem to get herself into quite a few mishaps." My friend Sara assures me that every group of friends needs a drama queen, though. It just seems to be magnified in Cleveland though, because the surroundings are so...drama-less.
Anyway, the best thing about going home is seeing my grandmother. Next week she will be 93 years old, and she is the cutest person on the planet. I think that I only really started to appreciate her after my mom's parents-- the American grandparents, with whom I was crazily close-- passed away when I was 18. My little Polish grandmother can be cantankerous and calls obsessively, but I know now that it's because she loves us so much. She is losing her memory a bit, but I doubt that she could ever lose the memory of me and our relationship. When I was home, she looked at me (up at me; she's 4"7 on a good day!) and said with certainty, "I will be at your wedding." That faith was so inspiring-- both in her presence there, years in the future, and in the eventuality of me finding someone who I am thrilled to spend the rest of my life with. Deep in the quite-recent shadow of a heart broken several times over, it's tempting to doubt that things will finally come together. But my grandmother thinks I'm stunning, and I think she's enchanting.

Happy almost birthday, Grandma! I love you.

16 April 2008

Rumination on the power of those three words

You will remember that leaping stream
where sweet aromas rose and trembled,
and sometimes a bird, wearing water
and slowness, its winter feathers.
You will remember those gifts from the earth:
indelible scents, gold clay,
weeds in the thicket and crazy roots,
magical thorns like swords.
You'll remember the bouquet you picked,
shadows and silent water,
bouquet like a foam-covered stone.
That time was like never, and like always.
So we go there, where nothing is waiting;
we find everything waiting there.
~Pablo Neruda~

11 April 2008

Why I Write (here)

I think I lost track of why I started writing here. I love the fact that the blog is being read, but sometimes I think it makes me not be as raw and exposed as I feel I need to be.
I started writing here not only because I wanted to put my thoughts out in the void but also so that I can find something positive and inspirational out of the chaos that I so often feel surrounds me. I wanted to find beautiful things and make myself focus on them so that I don't forget. It's been a year where over and over again I keep being confronted with the fact that people are ugly. Not everyone, and not in the physical sense. I know that moral ugliness is not as widespread as it seems to be lately, but if you live in a world where you encounter hummingbird after hummingbird on a regular basis, you might think that hummingbirds dominate the world; in actuality, comparatively few hummingbirds populate this earth. They just seem to be especially concentrated in certain areas. These metaphorical hummingbirds-- namely, cruel people, who are not worthy of being compared to something so beautiful as a hummingbird-- seem to be especially prolific in New York City. I let myself forget who I was once because of The Former Employer from Hell, and I can't bear the thought that I'd lose myself again and let others tell me the type of person I am. Sometimes this city just beats you down and tears you apart, and how do you stop from becoming a misanthrope? I have to force myself to dwell on the beauty.
That said, I also have to acknowledge that life isn't all sunshine and butterflies as I see it. Sometimes I wish that I didn't feel as deeply as I seem to, but most of the time I see that part of me as an asset rather than an impediment. If I'm being completely honest, I think that people who don't process pain or see occasional darkness are either (a) not very bright, (b) deluded, or (c) in some sort of cult-- but always shallow. Artists, especially writers and painters, are some of the deepest people you will encounter, and those are the people with whom I identify. I feel that no art can come out of a person who doesn't acknowledge pain or dissatisfaction or injustice. They make beautiful things, but that comes out of dwelling in the shadows quite a bit. And, don't you know, the shadows bring the starlight. That's what my blog is about: not letting the dark overwhelm you, but letting acknowledging it and letting it lead you to appreciate beauty so intense that it hurts.
I found this today, done to a t by this girl at this happy home, and I've decided that it might be something beneficial to me. I will do it in fifteen-item increments, so here, in no particular order, are the first 15 of One Hundred Things I Must Do in this Lifetime:
1) Make my own jam.
2) Grow a garden with climbing roses, hyacinths, and a raspberry bush.
3) Visit Prince Edward Island.
4) Write a book about my life adventures, with the first line "Some couples have a song; we had a salad."
5) Read the Russian Masters and Dickens' oeuvre.
6) Rediscover my proficiency in French.
7) Research Norse mythology and travel to Scandinavia.
8) Videotape my grandmother making her famous chicken soup.
9) Make an apple-picking outing a yearly priority.
10) Take photos of my daughter stumbling about in her mommy's high-heels.
11) Travel to Ireland and Scotland with Whitney.
12) Find (and afford) first editions of all of my favorite books.
13) Have no regrets.
14) Beat my coffee addiction.
15) Release a message in a bottle.

08 April 2008

ooooooooooh "weekend"

Listening to "Merry Happy" by Kate Nash on repeat. Feeling the need to have patent leather red flats to tap in time to the music. Read The Dud Avocado in Bryant Park. People watched. Saw a strange phenomenon: boyfriend using his girlfriend's shoulder as a coat rack. Drank coffee in a latte bowl. Fought with my mother (details later) and asserted my passionate existence. Lusted after this.And these.

"It's just that I know the world is so wide and full of people and exciting things that I just go crazy every day stuck in these institutions. I mean if I don't get started soon, how will I have the chance to sharpen my wits? It takes lots of training. You have to start very young. I want them to be so sharp that I'm always able to guess right. Not be right-- that's much different-- that means you're going to do something about it. No. Just guessing. You know, more on the wing." ~Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

03 April 2008

Umbrellas up

I want to wear brightly-colored cocktail umbrellas in my hair, like Audrey Tatou in Priceless...I would dream about lifting up into flight, spinning dizzyingly over the city by umbrella-power. Or I think about pastel umbrellas resting on top of a lake, bobbing happily and catching bucketfuls of rain-- like cupped hands.

courtesy of Anthropologie.com

Don't you ever get the urge to float away by umbrella? I have it, right about now...I want to fly away to the south of France...

02 April 2008

The literati attempt to mate-erati

I am a New York Times junkie, it's true. Especially the book reviews. What can I say, I trust these people with where my book budget will go. Sure, I'm occasionally wary-- I still don't understand how Eat, Pray, Love received a good review with it's mess of self-indulgent crap-- but overall, they get it right, and the reviews are highly literary themselves. I identify with other book snobs who don't take themselves too seriously. So naturally, I fell in love with Rachel Donadio's essay about books and dating-- literary dealbreakers, she calls them.
I am one of those people who is so passionate about books that I could never date someone who had literary taste that strongly clashed with mine. For some people it's politics, for some it's books. Books, I've found, can both unite and divide in terms of romance. A not-quite-romance that I had in college consisted of trading books with highlighted favorite passages: I gave him Chekhov's About Love, he gave me Tennyson's Ulysses. Books reveal your character; they are microscopes, I find. I once began avoiding a date's phone calls based on his love of Kerouac and his complete ignorance of who Jane Austen was (note to all self-proclaimed "good girls": men who swear by Kerouac are not your type). I have been watching a lot of Once and Again lately, and this connecting-- or disconnecting-- over books is one of the main topics of the show. Remember Grace and her teacher, with "About Love" (which is where I first heard of it)? Or Judy and Sam with "The Spoon River Anthology"? Or how Judy hosts a Booklovers singles night and selects Franny and Zooey as her favorite book, "because she has a nervous breakdown and it turns out to be...a really good idea"?
As someone who has not only judged books by their covers but also people by their books, I was thrilled to see this idea discussed in detail. One of the most interesting parts was to see others' dealbreakers.
  • During an online dating phase, I discovered that anyone who named “The Alchemist” as his favorite book was basically revealing that he was a sensitive stoner—to be avoided at all costs. I have fallen in love within minutes of a conversation in a bar, simply from a mention of Graham Greene’s “The Power and the Glory.” And one of my most romantic moments in a twenty-something relationship was reading Nabokov’s “Mary” to one another one rainy Seattle night. There is nothing more wonderful than connecting romantically to just the right literary spirit.
    — Posted by Kim
  • I love it when someone, no matter what their favorite author, reads with great verve and for the vulgar pleasure of finding out what happens next. On the other hand, I am driven screaming into the night by people who plow through Foucault and believe that novels of suburban grotesquerie portray some essential truth about humanity.
    — Posted by Jane
  • The boys I used to date would sit in coffeeshops and read “Foucault’s Pendulum” and “La Peste” and “The Blind Watchmaker” with world-weary sophistication dripping into their drip coffee. What came out of their mouths was blissfully pretentious and juvenile. How about a guy who cheerfully admits he’s not a fan of reading, but is wide open to ideas, is brilliant in his own way, and knows how to have fun? Bonus if he occasionally reads something you give him because you think HE’D like it, not because you want to “culture” him.
    However, if I were to find an Anthony Robbins or Steven Covey book in a drawer somewhere, I would either have to desperately believe that my dog had learned to “think outside of the box” or come to the horrible realization that I am marrying my father circa 1989.
    — Posted by Michaela
  • I was interviewing for a prominent publishing company last month…in any case, I asked my interviewer what their favorite authors/books were. “The Kite Runner,” they said. Amongst other ubiquitious subway reads. I asked myself, “…do I really want to work here?”
    — Posted by Red
  • Only superficial people don’t judge by appearances.
    — Posted by Oscar Wilde
  • When Kurt Vonnegut died last year I walked around campus all day with Slaughterhouse-Five (my favorite book) in my back pocket as my little “tribute” to him. A girl in one of my classes who I had a secret crush on noticed that book and then found me on facebook later that day, expressing regret over Kurt’s passing. We got to talking and we’ve been going out more or less ever since.
    — Posted by tom
  • Loves: Virginia Woolf, Shakespeare’s sonnets (if they’ve been actually read), and Madame Bovary (if it’s in French, my pants come RIGHT off).
    — Posted by Jacob

Then again, my last boyfriend was not a big reader, and I loved his general passion for life-- and the fact that he tolerated (and was amused by) my glee over finding fellow Jane Eyre devotees. And he was an intellectual in his own way, in areas where I am the world's largest moron. Much as I don't want to exclude people due to their book tastes, it does say a lot about a person if he only reads Ayn Rand, or the aforementioned Kerouac example, or if he simply follows the crowd and is an Oprah's Book Club devotee. Ew. But difference, provided an open mind comes with it, can be quite the aphrodisiac: I once traded a man A Tale of Two Cities (my choice) for Slaughterhouse Five (his), and it was quite the experience!

01 April 2008

More than okay

So I found myself using the following analogy to see if a proposed plan was "okay" or "more than okay":
"Alright, so say your mom says that she's thinking of making chicken for dinner. Now, 'okay' is saying, 'Oh yeah, I guess I could do some chicken.' Now if you're 'more than okay,' it's 'Chicken...oh yeah, chicken! I LOVE chicken! I've been craving chicken! I'm so glad you suggested chicken, because nothing sounds more satisfying than chicken right now.'"
Slightly messed up, but I think it's a pretty accurate analogy.
And for the record, it was more than okay.