Tag Archives: feature

Beyond the Rain

18 Nov

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A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write. ― Thích Nhất Hạnh

My breath carries a feather of knowing

upon its current, a tiny red remige

that still wants for growing.

From the root along the vane

it whispers,

We must live inside the Love.

My half conscious companion

has curiosity over coffee,

–What do you mean?

his thoughts thirst

like wintering window ledge botanicals

leaning long toward

the pale four o’clock sun.

 

Inside the Love? I say,

touching the top of his trembling.

Love, is the moted sun

in which the marmalade cat lies

half dreaming.

Love, is the knotted hammock’s

surest swinging.

Love, too is the icy white

lavender towel

the forehead’s scented savasana crown

like a Lazarene command,

compressing enlightened layers of being

backward into the inner eye.

Love is the tug of my long lock,

a plaything rapt round

your finger.

Living inside the Love

has changed my eyes

in equal measure with

their lines of singing skin.

A deeper London blue,

praises a preciousness

far from the reach of

impermeable youth.

One shouldn’t wait to

be in this Love, I say.

This present.

This here.

This now.

One should not be frightened of finding

that it peels the rind of self supposing

so that the webbed pith of soul lies naked,

a soft velvety skin of bitter white

its holdings so sweet,

so shiny,

so real,

its ripeness calls out

from under the lace of who we thought we were.

Inviting all souls to taste

of this now.

this here.

this me.

this us.

this we.

This Love is everywhere, I say.

And in everything.

I am the Love,

covered in the grey of walking

between the worlds

of the living and the dreading.

That which IS self suffuses.

 

His heart whispers

through eyes like empty cars

at the end of a carnival ride

gone much too short and much too fast,

door flung open,

rail lights blinking,

red tickets fluttering

across a worn grass path.

“What?”

His eyes trace the path back

into the dark forest,

where  yellow brick cannot shine.

The newspaper he holds has headlines

clearer from this distance

and sweeter with orange juice.

 

Beyond the green curtain

my beloved,

one finds Love

in a click

of ruby red heels,

over the bow of rain,

within the curling banner of birds,

showing the soul’s way.

Love has been waiting for me there

always,

in a blue rose calico apron

holding a light

at the front door

of Home.

Somewhere Between Nowhere and Home

4 Nov

clar road

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.– Louise Erdrich

Seven weeks blurred.

Thirty-five sunrises to realize,

in this field will be the final fight.

Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.

After eight weeks walking,

the road of familiar markers

extends its tail for the bitter tasting

from a thick mist-blanket.

I am coming home.

It is not pleasant.

It is not fun.

It is.

In ten weeks, the alchemy of soul

burnt dry in the sweat

of my night sleeping hair.

This is not poetry.

This doesn’t vaguely resemble art.

All of self, now channeled into

children,

their greedy pickpocket psyches

desperate for a heart

bereft of bleeding.

Morning, I wake.

Some kind of blessing,

cause six weeks ago,

I cursed it with wide eyed

cortisol laced racing

thoughts like

It’s going to be like this forever.

Hail Mary, full of grace. . .

I will sleep . . .tonight. . .

I want to go

 Home . . .  

I go to school.

I teach in the body of someone who is not me.

I workout.

We begin with pranayama breathing. ..

Survival is simplicity without pleasure.

It is.

Inspiration blooms

in unpainted plein air landscapes.

I’ve tried Faux-ism four times.

But, this is no trompe le’oil.

This is not poetry.

That ended on a September afternoon

in front of a desolate AC Moore

in a parking space I care not to remember

but I must.

Somewhere,

my friends have disappeared

between then and here.

But I come home. I eat popcorn.

I drink herbal tea. Take melatonin.

Go to bed.

I do not dream.

Morning, I wake.

I am somewhere between nowhere

and here.

Here is not home.

Written October 28, 2014

Falling From Flight

29 Oct

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She looks to the sky as once she did.

A ferry crossing to Ocracoke on a cold December evening in 2012. Sunset has turned now to sunrise and  enormous clouds. Their magenta pink and cerulean blue expanses have become the sign that we, Beloved and I, are crossing back into the ordinary world. Skyborn images fill the camera on the daily drive to my job.

I am a Teacher again. Beloved is not.

Beloved is a writer and visionary artist.  And she is the most genuine part of me. It’s not as if I ever stopped teaching, but now the load encroaches upon the world we discovered and grew. It threatens much that was built since this journey began. Balance is the challenge, and we are losing the fight.

Back in June, I knew this space was necessary for my expression. Somehow it made the journey easier. In August, the feeling that a cycle was coming to a close was true. It is. . .day by day. However, the final leg is difficult, I won’t lie. And I have neither map nor plan, other than the lessons and skills learned through the creation of this body of work, both real-time and in the virtual world.

As ever, Joe Campbell abides; the archetype stands.  We are in the final ordeal and returning.

I didn’t want to come back…but knowing enough of archetype,   there is no escaping return to the ordinary world.

The following series of poems were written through the most chaotic part of this journey. Every portion of life unraveled beginning in August 2014. I’m nearly four weeks into sleeping soundly through the night, for the most part. Severe insomnia is torture. I hadn’t experienced it to this level since I was nine years old. Needless to say, it truly altered my engagement with the world and view of the journey. Although I am much better now and more rested, miles still must be traveled…

We aren’t  home yet.

The series is entitled, “Falling from Flight”. The first four were written between August  8 and September 2, 2014. The last, October 28.

  • In the Morning Dew
  • Temperance
  • First Class
  • Resolution
  • Somewhere Between Nowhere and Home

I’ll release one a day, beginning Samhain, October 31. (The Celtic New Year) Somehow I must keep this space alive and engaged, or lose who I have become. There is no option but to win this last battle.

Be Well,

Beloved.

It’s a Human Thing

18 Aug
Robert Clarence Beard

Robert Clarence Beard

“I love mankind, he said, “but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.” — Dostoevsky

One of my male students questions me.

“You haven’t seen The Notebook?” He lifts his eyebrows, incredulously.

“No”, I say.

We are discussing the significance of rain as a symbolic motif.

“That’s a chick flick”, a girl beside him says.

And he blushes, all 235 linebacker pounds of him. I interrupt her.

“Tell me about it. What is the significance of the rain in the scene you mentioned?”

With real passion, he begins to describe how romantic the scene is, how it shows a rebirth of emotion, a washing a way of misunderstanding. I smile. He’s going to be a good man, I think. He may be embarrassed to be this vulnerable in front of all these other kids, but he is willing to put it out there and to connect. I admire his parents. They’ve taught him the basis of something that many men do not know… how to be a complete human.

Before I crack into this rant, I will state that my assessment is logically flawed. I know I’ve made a sweeping generalization. Kind, intelligent, courageous men do exist in the world, those who respect balanced women. They understand their inner selves in an intimate way. But they are not plentiful, in my opinion. And they populate my world like Saguaro of the high desert. . . tall, proud sentinels filled with promise for a traveler scoured by scrub and sand. Their shadows, dark and cool on a stark dry landscape.

And honestly, I’ll admit a recent bend toward cynicism, finding a dark irony that has squelched my perpetual Pollyanna attitude toward post divorce connection. But after online forays into the dark waters of dating and random encounters with the opposite species at watering holes and in other natural habitats, I’ve concluded that the vast social inequity between the sexes is much worse than I had previously believed. In fact, it is a mass hypnosis that needs a Universal thunderclap to wake the crowd.

Sunday, when I was driving home from an Irish session at Albemarle Ciderworks, an acquaintance of mine passed me in his sports car. All flashing sunglasses, his braceleted hand was poised in the window jamb; a girl sat co-pilot in the passenger seat. Without full knowledge of the details of our acquaintance, my view here might seem petty and selfish to some. But he represents a type of man that I have come to loathe and of which I have had quite enough. This small seemingly unimportant incident was the final card that crashed my house of faith in men. He is supposedly broken up about a recently ended relationship; his habit, though, is to hide any evidence of romantic attachment, serious or otherwise while it is occurring from the public, especially other women. I once ran into him at an event, quite by surprise, and he texted me within five minutes that “he was on a date…but not that kind of date”. One can see the picture here, I’m sure.

When he texted me later in the evening to say he had passed me on the highway, tried to get my attention and wished me good luck with school the next day, it sounded friendly enough. However, when I awoke at 3 am so angry that my stomach was in my throat, I realized something about this kind of man. It’s not that I want to be one of the “girls”. Believe me, I don’t. Our year long acquaintance revealed to me early on that he isn’t someone I’d ever trust in a pair bond. What makes me so angry is in a way. . . I want to be him. More specifically, wielding the power and control his type represents.

I want the ability to snap my fingers and have any number of beautiful young companions to keep me company at a winery, a concert or a theater event or even a trip to Europe. I have to go places alone. He gets to go with whomever he chooses and pretend he’s alone. That makes me envious and angry and those sorts of negative emotions do me absolutely no good.

As a woman, I’m furious that I’m not socially allowed to cultivate a string of beautiful young men, all clamoring to be with me, adoring me, trumpeting my wisdom to the world when all the while I’m selfish, petty, and juvenile. Maybe I am selfish, petty, and juvenile, but I don’t really know or care at this moment. I’m a human woman with a connection deficit and I’m sick of walking past local restaurants I frequent while he’s there drinking wine with a different girl every other afternoon. I tire of his ability to be so seemingly glamorous, so impeccably dressed and coiffed, almost too cool to even sweat. As his “friend”, I’m tired of his droppings, his toss off texts that pretend to care about my life when clearly a physical presence on a regular basis is required for genuine friendship. I’m not even talking about a possible romantic relationship; simple friendship is where human connection begins. I am starting to hate men because of him, because of the type of man he represents and I don’t need to develop that kind of callousness.

I don’t need a reminder of what being shallow and play acting at depth can get a man…everything. It isn’t fair, but there is seemingly nothing I can do about it.

To hold women at arm’s length, to dribble texts like bait and pretend to be interested in them without actually spending any time or effort or making personal investment in them and to play passive aggressive juvenile social media games to sustain this type of relationship is about control and power. It’s mean, cocky, and spiteful. It’s a form of emotional abuse. I don’t accept this treatment and other women shouldn’t either. Kind humans make consistent time for one another if they want to sustain a connection. Or they are kind enough to leave a person be. But to tell the truth, I haven’t run into many men who are also kind humans. As a matter of fact, I can name on two hands the men I have met in the last two years that qualify as human beings, most all are married.

I have to let go of the anger, and remember my worth. I need to remember what Grandaddy taught me: I am enough. . . irrespective of male affirmation. As a single woman in mid-life, though, I’m tired of men’s pity. I’m tired of taking handouts. I’m tired of letting assholes inform my sense of self worth and personal authority. It’s time for me to be the director of the connections made with men in my life. I will not defer to a man any longer. If a man has an issue with me being the initiator or the one who has enough courage to be vulnerable then so be it. I’m not some pathetic cougar bar fly in search of my youth.

I am wise.

I am beautiful.

I am smart.

I am strong.

I don’t have time to wait on emotionally handicapped, puerile, vacuous, weak willed men who will judge me for the functionality of my womb or the size of my breasts or the failed relationships I’ve had because it took me this long to realize how awesome I really am. Because if I have to hear just one more time as I walk in to a coffee shop or a grocery store or a restaurant bar

I love a redhead

or any other flattery as they smile and then walk away without even attempting to ask if maybe they might join my hair and the rest of me for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or a chat about a really great book or poem I might implode.

Bring it or get out of my way. Man up for Christ’s sake.

I refuse to play games. I refuse to pretend to be less to make you feel more. I refuse to pad another ego or organize and motivate a lazy jerk who knows if he drags his feet long enough I’ll be the mule and do the work.

No, not again.

Not ever.

Never.

Begging is for those with an empty treasure chest of a Self.

I’ve contemplated for too long why smart beautiful women seem to get nothing and smart beautiful men have it all. I’ve wondered for too long why I have to follow in the dance, on the street, at work, in life. I’m done with the social construct that says I must compete with younger women for a man of any age. They can’t hold a candle to my wisdom and I work hard and am fitter than most of them. While hiking in Yosemite, I met an 85 year old lady who is raising her 15 year old great grand daughter. So, if I want a baby at 50 or older, I’ll have the brains, the energy, and the money to care for one. A man who can’t let go of his genetics for a quality partner is on an epic ego trip.

Therefore, I’m ready to act. To creatively address this inequity in ways that might raise a few eyebrows or incur some harsh judgments. But I don’t care. If it’s at peace with my core, I’ll do it. For that is the only conscience to which I need to be reconciled. Should’s and shouldn’ts have no power over me any longer. That is the very definition of courage. This isn’t a dating thing or a sexual thing…it’s a human thing. And that’s what I haven’t gotten much of from the world of men. . .anything human.

Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Robert Clarence Beard on his 105th birthday (8-18-1908). He taught me my worth. It is my job to remember it.

Emerald Bay

A Little Dream

7 Feb

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At least one night per week I go to one of my “home” restaurants to write. As I have said before, I’ll not review either of them, for they’re my safe havens, my creative spaces. These places allow me the right atmosphere to create, to dream, and to explore the world of words. Just being there and being attended helps me when I am lonely. So many of us feel separated, lonely by ourselves….lonely in a crowded room. Disconnection is at its heart, the sense of isolation that comes from the lack of communication, nurturing. Even simple touch. It drives our search for meaning as well as underpinning our addictions. Humans are social creatures. We weren’t meant to be in perpetual solitude.

As I was writing Tuesday evening, dining on roasted vegetables and enjoying a glass of Orvieto, I heard a piano begin in the left corner of the room. In the softened candlelight reflecting from an antique buffet mirror, I saw an elderly gentleman at the piano, playing a dramatic tango. Suddenly my imagination was transported backward one hundred years to a small cafe in Paris, well trodden floors gleaming in anticipation for the dance. His notes were staccato, sharp and brisk….brilliant. His hands were the only animation on his body. But as I continued to observe, I saw a thin line of saliva drop from his mouth onto his lapel. Then, in a few minutes, another. He was quite old and I wondered instantly how to attend to him. The bartender could see the concern on my face, I’m sure. He told me that the piano player was an 87 year old Romanian. He had played cabaret all over Europe professionally, and now lives with his daughter here in Lynchburg. He speaks no English, so to ease his sense of isolation and loneliness, his daughter brings him to the restaurant every Tuesday. He plays song after song, all from memory for nearly three hours. They pay him $30 and feed him dinner.

I turned back to watch him and to listen. To say that I was moved would be an understatement. My heart was captured in connection and in empathy. If it wouldn’t have disturbed him while playing, I would have sat next to him on the bench, simply to give him sheer physical closeness. How dear he was. How express and trenchant the notes fluttered about the room. Songs moved in circular rhythms from tango, to jazz, to classical. All seamless, all from an arrangement entirely in his mind.

And I wondered.

Does he dream while in the notes? Is he somewhere in Prague, in Berlin, in Paris playing for a small group gathered in a similar softly lit bistro, worn mirrors on the walls?

Does the scent of food and wine hanging in waves throughout the room transport him to another set of ivory keys while seated upon another bench decades ago?

Does he dream of a beautiful woman, cocktail in hand and pressed waves in her hair? Does the smile upon her carmine lips as she glances toward him, let him know the music connects to her passion?

Does he play with thought of loss? Of a country and time now gone, of the departure of friends and family and the slow dimming of memories of both war and love, pain and joy?

After an hour or so, I walked over and sat down beside him. I kissed my finger tips and opened them in a gesture of perfection.

“Brava”, I said. “Your music is so beautiful”.  And I smiled.

He had no English, but made motion for me to perhaps write? And so in motion, we communicated.

Would I like a song?

Yes, I nodded. I sang….

Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper, “I love you”
Birds singing in the sycamore tree
Dream a little dream of me….

No…he smiled and shook his head. He did not know it.

Chopin? he said.

I nodded, smiling. Yes, please.

For the next hour, I was witness to my own private concerto.

Before leaving, I needed to say thank you,to let him know how grateful I am for his gift of music and of connection. I wrote him a note, translated into Romanian, one of the pluses of Google technology.

Vă mulțumesc pentru seara asta muzica frumoasa. Am fost onorat să-l audă.

Thank you for the beautiful music tonight. I was honored to hear it.

For tonight, music created a connection and I wasn’t lonely….and I dare say, neither was he.

Inside the Light

13 Jan

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For whatever we lose (like a you or a me),
It’s always our self we find in the sea.  ― E.E. Cummings

On my walking tour of Carytown yesterday, Maureen took us by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. As I rounded the corner into the sculpture garden, brilliant cardinal red glass spires, giant slashes against the grey stone building, shot their color upward from the spiky green grass lagoon in front of the museum cafe. It was as if all the color in the landscape had leaked whatever tiny bit of red it might own into those long bloody cat tails piercing the courtyard air. So, this is Chihuly, I thought. Yes, now I remember the glass sculpture of his at the MFA in Boston, that enormous lime green glass tree that literally took my breath away. At that moment I knew I needed to come back today to see the exhibit, even if there was a fee to view.

How can I describe stepping into a darkened cave only to be instantly dazzled by an oceanic outer space world of twisted, ribbed, iridized and marbled glass? Colors so candy-like in their richness, pigments so piercingly pure that the wild assortment of them resembles a pile of enormous penny sweets. The first display, two boats, one filled with various sizes of miniature glass globe planets brought to mind a metaphor: the universe as a ship carrying multiple worlds, souls upon souls, all unique yet common in their fragility. The second ship sprouted tentacles and hotly colored sinuous arms in a wild array of movement. Both skiffs set afloat on a great dark sea of the universe, an outer space garden joined in light and motion against the soft black of emptiness.

I felt swimmy……the light of the Persian ceiling rested on my shoulders like a soft mantle as I walked under  clouds of seaweed and twisted creatures in a surreal invertebrate universe. Amorphous hollow half globes glowed palely in the adjacent room, their sides undulating in opalescent white like moonlit cacti in a winter desert. Following the landscape into the next room, coral bowls radiant with interior color, seemed to almost breathe as their edges spread against the black air. That glowing, captured within the glass itself, gave the inanimate very real energy and life.

Entering the main hall, the union of turquoise, bronze, gold, black, white, amber, and lime green iridescent hushed the room in tranquility. In an oxygen aquarium, I circled the centerpiece like a koi in a pond, hovering here or there to catch a glimpse of shadow within the sparkles of light.

As I sat on a bench to the side, a subtle bittersweet thoughtfulness fell over me. I began to think about a conversation that I had held with a friend of mine the night before. We had been talking about travel experiences, those that had really transformed us. He told me about having had the opportunity to go to the Amazon rain forest to film indigenous tribes there and the amazing lessons their stories, culture, and the landscape had shown him. But there was a moment where he paused and I could see something that seemed hard to express appear in his memory. He said,

How do you still own a moment when the person you shared it with goes away? How can I hold on to an experience, so amazing and yet, not feel the pain of losing the person who shared it with me?

This splendor of glass and light brings to my mind an understanding from his question. Beauty and fragility are sometimes one in the same. The purest moments are sometimes those which can be broken most easily and so we should take care to protect them. I often think perhaps  we should just remember the moment only, forgetting the before and the after. For only in the moment is the purest truth and nothing can change its capture. Like these bent and twisted, but unique fragile sculptures, the moment of beauty and truth is caught when the heat begins to subside. It hardens around the moment of passion that made it, almost stopping it in time like a beloved memory. None of the beauty is lost inside of it. It’s only the reflection against the past, against the future, which can evoke the pain of loss. In a way, maybe we should learn to be inside the light of memory, love it, and then leave the joy of it there to go back to rather than trying to drag it with us to pale against the present.

For when we drag out the joy, we lessen its brilliance. We spiderweb crack the moment by making it larger than it was and eventually what we’ve accidentally made in passion and inspiration, like hot blown glass, we destroy instead of keeping as a beautiful manifestation of the light of life. I often feel so sad about the way we handle each other’s fragile hearts. Over time, with repeated cracking and careless handling, placing it upon a shelf seems the only way to keep it whole. But my granny used to think that you should use your best glassware and china, because it showed people you loved them everyday, not just on special occasions. And if something broke well, you remembered the use that broke it and that might make you feel better. And of course in the memory, it’s there unbroken …forever.

Losing Yer Knickers…an Irish Story

24 Dec

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What would Christmas Eve be without a story, loves? And so,

This is the story of about how there’s nothing like almost losing yer knickers when walkin’ into an Irish pub

One Christmas Sunday (about a day ago), I almost lost my knickers in front of a right handsome lad in the best Irish pub in Washington D.C.

I planned to go to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to mass the night before Christmas Eve. ‘Twas on the bucket list and what does an Irish lass do after mass? Go to the pub for fish and a pint, that is a given. Transportation was becoming a bit expensive over the weekend. Average taxi rides less than a mile or two were nine to ten dollars and a trip all the way to CUA would be outrageous, I had imagined. So, I decided to ride the Metro. I could walk to the station as long as I had the time and conceivably, I could go anywhere. Only four blocks to the McPherson station, then green line to red line, two blocks to the cathedral. Easy.

So I set out in my navy cashmere sweater, dark red scarf with Celtic pin, flirty short blue kilt, navy tights and high heel black oxfords. Demure, but sporty church/ pub attire. After one block, I knew I should have gone back. Firstly, the kilt flirts a bit too much when I walk in those shoes and a kilt wearin’ red headed lass walkin’ down 14th street at a fair clip is an attention getting thing apparently. I nearly caused two fender benders and had a few interesting proposals from homeless men.

I began to walk faster. That’s when I realized I had brought THOSE navy tights, the ones I had meant to throw away because the panty portion was too loose and would fall ever so slowly with movement all the way down to my ankles. But I was obviously pressed for time and for my own safety. Certainly I couldn’t miss mass nor take the dreaded expensive taxi. “I’ll be fine”, I thought. I had put on a pair of silk knickers over top of the tights because I had forgot to bring a slip and they had plenty of elastic so they’d hold the tights up. That was Christmas wish that Santa just didn’t seem to get wind of.

By the time I had walked to the McPherson metro stop, a third of my bare hips could feel the scratchy wool of my kilt, but I knew no one could see it. So, I ducked into the restroom before I boarded the metro, yanked the trunk portion up high and went onward. The trip took much longer than anticipated with all the high heeled walking and when I finally reached CUA, I had more than two blocks to walk uphill to the Shrine in ten minutes. I wanted to take pictures of the beautiful exterior with all the gorgeous lights in the evening sunset, but by the time I jaunted up the marble steps to the door, I knew I’d have to find a bathroom to yank up my tights again. They were further down than before and almost half of my rear was bare to the kilt. Yikes.

It wasn’t intolerable, though and no one really noticed, but it was becoming an issue and I realized then, “Jeez, I have to walk BACK to the metro stop at CUA and then all the way to Fado from Chinatown metro. This isn’t looking good.”

After spending time at the Shrine, I set out again for the metro stop. It was later in the evening and dark; the entire CUA campus was deserted. Warning thoughts were shooting across every portion of my brain and I seriously thought, “Lass, how stupid can you be? You can’t run in them heels nor those damned tights and not a soul will hear you scream. Get to the metro and get there quick!”

When I sat down, breathless in my orange pleather metro seat, a full three quarters of my bottom was without coverage and then it hit me. Feck, I have three blocks to walk to Fado in Chinatown. Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, they won’t drop…will they? So I tried to inch them up casually. I squirmed and tried to nonchalantly pull them up by stretching my legs, but to no avail. They were coming down and I had no option but to pray they didn’t fall before I could get to the restroom inside Fado.

Exiting the Chinatown metro station, I began to notice a looseness that I had not sensed before. Oh holy Father, the knickers were falling too! That’s when I panicked. I kept walking though, small strides, then large strides to try to stretch them up somehow. Nothing worked.

I saw a McDonalds.

Customers only bathroom.

…shite.

So I kept walking and then I began to pray. “Mother Mary, please don’t let me lose my black silk knickers on 7th street in Chinatown. Dear Mother of God, I can’t lose my knickers in front of the saints and world of men on a street corner.” I stopped to cross the street over to the 700 block of 7th and I saw the sign for Fado. I have never been more happy to see a place in my life and with effort and stealth, I snuck my hand under my coat to grab the front of my knickers and tights to keep them up. For my entire derriere was now bare to the kilt and the under current wind and I knew if I had to walk more than to the door of the pub, I’d be bare as the day I was born with navy tights around my knees.

I made it in the door and made to shuffle to the back toward the restroom. Thankfully, it was pretty empty the night before Christmas Eve and then. . .

There he was, a green eyed Irish waiter with black hair and an apron to match. “Good even’ lass”, he said, “Where’d you like to place yourself?”

At that precise moment, the knickers gave way and I knew they were going to fall right then to the floor in front of this gorgeous waiter and I would be mortified beyond belief. But, I knocked my knees together and leaned into the bar . Casually flipping my hair I squeaked, ”Well, I’m not sure yet, lad. May I use your restroom and then seat myself?”

“Aye”, he said “Tis over there. I’ll get you something for your return?”

“Oh yes” I said. “Make it a Guinness and pour it slow…I’ll be back.”

So when he turned, I grabbed my knickers from the front through the kilt and hobbled quickly back to the restroom. Thank goodness no one else was there to see me and then standing in the stall, they fell like feathers from a duck. I stretched and pulled, rearranged and then slipped the knickers back on and knew I’d be okay. However, I’d better take a taxi home.

So there you have it…

The wisdoms in this?

Listen to your knickers, loves. Underneath everything there is a sureness which is necessary to being. The best experiences can be marred when flexibility gives way. If it means being late, or it costs more money, it matters not. To build upon anything one needs to attend to foundations. It’s most important to life, to love, to anything.

Slainte

All that Glitters

23 Dec

Sometimes, something can seem so marvelous …so perfectly exciting. People can be like that. Places can be like that. Experiences can be like that. But tonight, I went to Sax Restaurant and Lounge. Hours before going, I had a nagging feeling about the experience, something that overshadowed my long held anticipation and excitement.  Verdict: It was an expensive lesson in not worth it.

I’ve been wanting to experience the place for a long while, the main draw for me being burlesque and modern dance. First, let me say that the burlesque I have come to enjoy is about NOT revealing rather than revealing. I’m not a fan of pole dancing nor stripping. Twelve inch clear plastic platforms and lap dances are not in the least artistic expressions, in my opinion, nor appealing to me. However, after having watched With a Wink and Smile last year, falling in love with it, and then subsequent reading and research on vintage style burlesque, I found out that this is one of the few places in my area which features anything similar. The shows here are of the highest class, resembling acts from Cirque du Soleil and modern ballet rather than a gentleman’s club. The interior is rich, a literal explosion of bordello red velvet….and I mean 19th century New Orleans style, Moulin Rouge, lavish French baroque golden splendor.

To be sure, the champagne was amazing. After two glasses of Jean Baptiste Adam Rose (Cremant d’Alsace ) I was feeling rather fancy. The manager, Franco, came to my table to greet me and chat, offering a glass of Spanish Cava on the house. Its mossy earthy nose and mineral finish was amazing. You can’t come to a place like this without drinking stars.

To be sure, the food was to die for, small bits and bites in tiny plates, one after the next.  I nibbled and sipped at my table for one all evening. First, an arugula salad with strawberries, goat cheese and pistachio vinaigrette arrived, then some gorgonzola fondue, tiny bites of beef and bread to dip in a small pot just for one. Afterward, as the evening rolled on, three prawns in carrot ginger butter were followed by fried oyster sliders presented on tiny pristine white plates. It sounds like an amazing array of food I’m sure, but truly each small dish was two to three bites and although delicious and artfully presented, not really worth the cost.

To be sure, the service was impeccable. My waitress was so charming, and also so surprised that I was completely there by myself that her first reaction was to exclaim, “Oh…oh my god, you are my new hero.” She attended to me like a loyal waiting gentlewoman and truly made me feel more comfortable. The hovering of the other wait staff, though those to clear away dishes or glasses was oppressive. The pressure of what seemed to me to be constant supervision, or inherent curiosity at my single seating caused me to flinch more than once. There was one moment where one of the other waitresses looked at me, her gaze mixed with sadness and empathy. My instant thought was, “Oh child, don’t look so sadly at me. I’m not lonely.” And to tell the truth I wasn’t. The shows were what I truly went for but there again, the spin and the actual turn part ways.

Each absolutely fabulous, artfully choreographed, and beautifully lighted show was three minutes of pure bliss for me, separated by twenty minutes of blank dark stage. I am still disappointed… a lot. All I can really think about was how much of a better time I had spending twenty bucks dancing to the Rockers last Saturday night at the Topless Oyster community Christmas potluck in Ocracoke, dogs trotting across the dance floor. It was more real, more genuine. When this place turned into a true dance club at 11pm, I paid my check and took a cab home. No one spoke to me all evening; no one but staff acknowledged my presence. I was a ghost seated at the edge of a red velvet dance floor, entirely invisible.

The opulence of this place hides the feeling I could never shake the minute I walked in the door….beautiful…but no heart. And heart and soul are the ingredients to me that make a good dining/ lounge experience as a woman. Its not about the icing. Its about the cake. The elements have to be there, but what makes a woman feel alluring and adventurous and drawn into a sensual conversation with herself isn’t red velvet perfection…its genuine connection. And you can get that in a space like that, but it takes an emphasis on the personal aspect at the core. There is a taste for love, for bravery, for the sheer joy of decadence, but it comes with the expectation that not all diners will be providing their own companions to achieve the perfect mix.

It’s like some people. They create this wonderful exterior that just draws others in and then, when experienced, you can’t really figure out exactly why, but you feel let down. They have all of what seems like the perfect combination of characteristics, but when you really sit down to the table, they can’t provide any depth of heart.

Tonight is the last time I will place myself and my aspirations into fancy and empty rather than real and warm. Sometimes, I do already know better.

A Common Feast

21 Dec

 

How do you stop wanting something? How, after seeing the possibility of happiness do you walk away before a first taste, letting fear of the end of a great feast prohibit your seating at a table. Perhaps it is the fear of the end, of the last bite which prohibits the first, the regret of having eaten at all.  – – Beloved

In traveling I have had the opportunity to eat, really eat and enjoy gourmet food and fine wine. Well, maybe not so much Gaffers Sports Pub in Ocracoke, but most definitely wine at Zillies and then, most definitely in DC.

One of the most memorable meals I have had so far was at Granville Moore’s. Delores and John had told me about the place because John’s daughter works there. That’s all I really needed to understand. They said I needed to go, so I went.

The entrance of this Belgian style gastropub is nearly hidden. One could never tell that a restaurant was actually there at all; the cab driver had a problem even finding it. But when I walked in, I understood why. Originally a doctor’s office, the building is tall, two stories and very narrow, most likely a building from the early part of the 20th century. The bar is long, covering one side of each of two floors with a single row of booths on the opposite side of each bar. The first greeting from the doorman was sweet. He loves red hair. Story of my life.

But no room at the downstairs bar for a red headed lass to sit, so up the old creaky steps I went. The walls are barely painted, half wall papered, half scraped and the ceilings open to the rafters. A convergence of European pub and tenement house, the ambiance really works. This is upscale even in its unassuming wood and tarnished brass. I found a single spot at the bar and literally inserted myself into the eating crowd.  Quite quickly, I was reminded of the idea of the common table, of eating  surrounded in warm spirit by others. But also yielding to the vulnerability of eating. I had never thought about how fiercely vulnerable eating makes someone, but it does. We take off our defenses and sit at a fire and feed ourselves into life. We focus on our senses and take pleasure in them. It is something that must be done in safety, sometimes in quiet, but most times in communion. It’s why we desire to eat in groups, I think. To break bread together and to enjoy not only the flavor of what feeds us, but the act of eating with others draws them into our intimate life.

Granville Moore’s menu focuses solely on moules (mussels) and craft beers. And in the eating of this type of old world food, one dives into the nature of relationship, to others and to the planet. I ordered moules prepared with a sauce made of grand marnier, cream, duck sausage, and cranberries. Frites with curry mayo was the side along with crusty bread to be broken and plunged into that vat of sea-orange cranberry flavor. I ordered a beautiful beer. La Rulles Meilleurs Vouex, medium bodied, malty, not too heavy. Tasting brought to mind moss and dark soil, an image of Antaeus, strength in earth. Beer, like a tree, seems firmly connected to both ground and sky.

I sat there amid the crowd and ate and scribbled in my notebook. I broke my bread among the masses in intimate vulnerability. I listened to the couple next to me discuss her sister’s problems with home and parents. I watched the other couple beside me in their technological silence as he flipped through Facebook and she sat alone and dipped bread and ate, and ate, and dipped and ate. He flipped his thumb upon his phone screen in ignorance of her boredom, her sense of rejection, her beauty and vulnerability. If I had been brave enough, I would have told him to break a corner of her crust and feed her.

So how was the food? I held pale orangish pink moules, barely cooked, upon a tiny fork and watched them quiver before they hit my tongue in a salty revelation. Earthy and sharply citrus from a burial in cream, orange and berry, I felt and heard the bread crack and crumble under my fingers and then let it soak in all of the bottom of the bowl. Then, perching upon the top to my mouth, came a small morsel of duck sausage, rich and bloody and dark and filled with sage and the memory of a winter home upon a heath.

Perhaps there is something about a feast which doesn’t tempt some, but a feast IS meant to be shared. For in that sharing comes healing and life, growth and joy. One must share the table, the bread, the wine…and freely share. It isn’t a stolen moment. It is a gifted pause  to be able to meet another at table and feed the heart and soul as well as body.  We are invited to a common table. Its up to us to meet it.

Night She Comes, Cloaked

9 Dec

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Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

–Wordsworth

Here I sit, in a tiny vintage 30’s cottage on the main street of Ocracoke, at the corner of Howard Street and Fig Tree Lane. I am home. That is the only way to describe this feeling. Home. The trip was a blur. Driving to music entirely wrapped in my thoughts, I could not discern where I was in space. My mind wandered and dreamed. I remembered how I had become used to reading aloud as a passenger on long drives, and had never really noticed the trip. But with every mile, my mind became more clear, my heart filled with a deeper conviction. As Clarence and I boarded the ferry, I knew I want to be fully in the moments as they pass. I have no plans. Furthermore, I don’t want any.

I just want to be…and be fully.

I don’t think I even realized that I would be witness to a sunset until the ferryman said to me, “Should be a nice sunset tonight. You’ll get some good pictures”. So I fished out my camera, got Clar settled, bundled up against the wind, and began to learn how to balance savoring and saving. That has always been a problem for me, trying to record the experience, yet being in it fully at the same time.

The perfection of this night crossing was so overwhelming that I struggled NOT to share it with others via phone. To stay unplugged and keep it within me and let it embrace the edges of this fear. How many pictures of a sunset can you take? And then I thought of the day of the 44 sunsets in the Little Prince.and I asked myself, was he truly sad? How could he be while looking into the face of the Universe? Each sunset, each one is never truly lost. I struggled to watch this beauty, to understand that I was witnessing the Divine.

My words here seem so trite and cliche, so ill befitting this splendor of fire and water. To my left a flock of seven sea birds flew into view, wing to wing, spirit to spirit. And when the great sun, like liquid red gold, dissolved into a wide expansive blue bay, I knew…it is all One. An answer to my pondering of disconnection came. Words and social constructs don’t matter; we are all one in our humanity and we must love one another above all else. It is all that matters. Love is what we take with us into the next world and the next and the next. Yes, humans fail. Yes, they slumber in their souls. Yes, all have turned inward to petty fears and vanities at one time or another. But we must open and allow, letting fire and water balance within us.

I have seen the hand of the Universe today, and it is kind and loving. I know now how Keats may have felt when he wanted to die in the nightingale’s song. Tonight, I could have died without fear in the face of that sunset. All of the sliding planes of the sky in azure, indigo, black, gold, orange, pink, peach, rose, mauve, red, white. All sliding planes of existence.  All of these layers upon layers of light.

Time past, time present all melted into one. Nothing to separate us.

And in the night crossing upon the ferry into the buried world of home, there is now hope in an eye “made quiet by the power of harmony”. There is hope.

 

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