Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Theory of Everything

I went to see a matinee of the Theory of Everything (a plus to being laid off is having afternoons free to see an inexpensive matinee. I'm planning on hitting the Sundance cinemas on Tuesday to take advantage of their $5 Tuesdays, too. It's a good movie time).

Anyhow, the movie is a biopic of Stephen Hawking based on a 2007 book by his ex-wife. It's an interesting biopic. As a movie, it's a little diffuse, and there are some plot points that in any other movie would derail the proceedings.  It is anchored with strong performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who manage to keep you entertained and involved enough to not ask some of the more difficult questions that seem to be skirted over. It's worth seeing, but not earth shattering, which is a shame, as his story is.

Hawking was diagnosed with what the film terms "motor neuron disease" and also as ALS. Though Hawking was initially told he had two years to live in 1963, he is still with us, and still writing.  It's a triumphant story.  The movie deals with the challenge of his care, and the toll it took on his wife and family.  It touches on his theory of everything - his search for an elegant mathematical theorem that would explain the universe. Strangely, though, it felt somewhat soft pedaled to me.  Perhaps because my father was diagnosed with a neurological disease when I was 5, and died of it when I was 32.

I had a difficult relationship with my father, to say the least. My theory of everything would include anger, resentment, and a lot of rage. It would include violence and the threat of violence. We hear so many stories about people handling their decline with grace. It's important. Those stories are uplifting. This story is uplifting.  Perhaps it's the stiff upper lip of it all, but I was wondering if perhaps there was a little more to the story, more frayed edges from a woman who took care of her husband as he diminished physically while also raising their three children.  My mother doesn't remember a year of her life.  Unlike Hawking and his wife, their divorce was acrimonious and awful, played out on the children as well.  It echoes. It becomes less with time, but then something like this movie will bring the sense of that time back.

The movie got the physicality right. Redmayne is transformed -  the feet, the curl of the hand; the walking with canes and then the wheelchair and then the motorized wheelchair. My father had heavy wingtips that he would drag along, eventually pulling up to put in the foot rests of his chair once he no longer used the aluminum braces with the gray plastic arm cuffs. My theory of everything would include some point of view of the children, though they seem to have a good relationship with both their parents.  I imagine that some people with an illness like this actually grow closer to their families from mutual struggle. That wasn't our story. My theory of everything would include an equation that factors in the possibility of fracture, of loss of purpose rather than drive. And of how to learn that it doesn't need to dictate the future as well.

Hawking moves from a theory that has a need for god and an origin to one that doesn't. His work as explained in the film centers on time and black holes, and how a magnetic pull from this dead star can be so dense that it consumes itself and everything around it. In the denseness, he said, you can measure the radiation from the origin of the universe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cleese and creativity

I was looking at my notebook today, as I'm feeling a little stuck -

Okay, full disclosure: I picked up a screenplay that I'd started and submitted for a fellowship that I hadn't looked at for a few months.  Of course, my first thought was that it was awful, and I was as well by extension.  Then I went and got an iced tea.

Back at my desk, I opened a journal thinking I would write a list of all the projects I have ideas for but I haven't started, as list making always calms me a little, though now I realize writing a list of all the things I'm not working on is perhaps counter-intuitive if you are seeking artistic confidence.

Anyhow, I opened to the back and saw this summation of John Cleese's creativity lecture that I had watched a while ago. It was under the single item list "READ FRANKENSTEIN."  There are two check marks by that, neither would indicate that I've either purchased or read the book yet. I did, though, see the National Theater version directed by Danny Boyle with Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller twice, and it was fantastic.

Here are my Cleese notes. I'll save you the block letters as it would look like I'm yelling at you, which is not a great creativity motivator.

  • Open mode = curiosity
  • Stick with the problem longer
  • Tolerate discomfort and anxiety while problem is unsolved
  • Don't make a decision just to make you feel better
  • Looking at decisiveness as an aim is not helpful
  • Give maximum pondering time
  • Don't try to get out of creative discomfort just to get out
  • Three things you need: Space, Time, Confidence
  • Confidence = open to what happens
  • You're either free to play or not
  • While being creative nothing is wrong
  • Don't forget humor
  • Keep bringing your mind back to the subject

Good words to remember. I'm going to go stew in some anxiety and unfinished business.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Helen Keller & Annie Sullivan

I'd never seen this. Breathtaking.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Writing Brain

Well, this is a fascinating MRI scanning experiment about writing - the difference in experienced and more novice writers' brains.

21 hours a week?  Only 19 hours to go...

In other news, it would be helpful if they discovered what part of the brain is involved in making one sit down and do it, and how to trigger it.

In other other news, I actually have a second draft of a script. No surprise, but I discovered I find it easier to revise and have ideas about other's work than to revise my own.  That would be a useful area of the brain to trigger as well, preferably triggered by eating a daily bowl of ice cream.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Tanaquil Leclerc

I just finished watching the documentary "Afternoon of a Faun" about Tanaquil Leclerq from PBS American Masters.  Riveting.  Tanaquil (Tanny) Leclerq was Balanchine's 4th wife, and a star dancer with the American Ballet theater, when she was stricken with polio in 1956 at the age of 27.  There are some incredible dance clips of her dancing with Jacques D'Amboise (a legend in his own right), and clips from ABT in the 50s. She was beautiful, sensuous dancer - intelligent, alluring.  The documentary is a fitting tribute, as well as a time capsule for the creation of some of Balanchine's work.

I had no idea of her story. I love documentaries.  She lived to almost 80, taught at Dance Theater of Harlem, and lived the rest of her life in a wheelchair once she adjusted to the loss of her legs.  It's quite a triumph from a strong, strong person. I am so glad there are photos and film of her dancing. Quite impressive. Ironically, Balanchine cast her in a ballet where she played polio before she contracted it. I won't spoil one of the most heartbreaking moments, but it's incredible how one small decision can effect our entire lives.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Waters of March

This is Waters of March (Aguas de Marco) by Antonio Carlos Jobim sung by the great Elis Regina, who died much too young. Her daughter is the Brazilian singer Maria Rita. 

I posted this version, even though it's a little choppy, as it has literal English subtitles. Jobim wrote English lyrics, but these are his original in Portuguese.  They're so specific and beautiful. The English lyrics are great, of course, but these are evocative of the end of Summer in Brazil, and much more specific. I think they're much more beautiful.  A perfect marriage of word, song, and performer.  No wonder some say it's the most beloved Brazilian song of all time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Alone and in groups

I have been reading Stephen Greenblatt's Pulitzer Prize-winning, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern" recently. My mother passed in on to me. It's an interesting book about how the rediscovery of Greek and Roman texts, specifically Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things," changed the course of history and thought. I'm still in it, but I came across this bit here (reproduced in gotoreads, which makes me wonder if this is like a torrent site for books, so hopefully not breaking any laws here)

Ancient Greeks and Romans did not share our idealization of isolated geniuses, working alone to think through the knottiest problems. Such scenes—Descartes in his secret retreat, calling everything into question, or the excommunicated Spinoza quietly reasoning to himself while grinding lenses—would eventually become our dominant emblem of the life of the mind. But this vision of proper intellectual pursuits rested on a profound shift in cultural prestige, one that began with the early Christian hermits who deliberately withdrew from whatever it was that pagans valued: St. Anthony (250–356) in the desert or St. Symeon Stylites (390–459) perched on his column. Such figures, modern scholars have shown, characteristically had in fact bands of followers, and though they lived apart, they often played a significant role in the life of large communities. But the dominant cultural image that they fashioned—or that came to be fashioned around them—was of radical isolation.

It's interesting how the religious thought or idea actually changed what we valued in thought, also possibly creating a world of saints, solo inspiration, and eventually the tortured creative genius. It's an interesting lineage to think about.  Also interesting to note that when you look at our own history, rather than the lore of the individualist that we love to tell, most all discoveries and thought were created out of group development.  There's an interesting history book about the enlightenment and coffee houses, and how the greatest thinkers of the 18th century all knew each other and bounced ideas off of each other, though they were in different disciplines. Of course I can't recall the title.  We may arrive and leave alone, but in between its clear we are shaped by our time and those around us.  I like the idea that we work through things together.  So much less pressure. 

Speaking of pressure, I have a pinched nerve in my neck that's traveling down to my fingers, making writing somewhat challenging.  I will persevere, but I've not been spending much time doing it as it feels like a funny bone has been hit up and down my arm.  It's lessening.  And sometimes you just gotta go ahead and type even when you have a numb finger.  

Suffering for art. That's another trope for another time.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Outfest, part 2

A few years ago, 2008 to be exact, a dear friend of mine passed away.  Another dear friend sent me 10 tickets to Outfest, as it was coinciding with the event, and he thought it would be a good way to deal with grief.  Having something to do is certainly helpful. I was introduced into a whole world I didn't know.

I think since then I've gone most years, and it looks like I've written about it a fair amount.  This year, though, my first film will be showing.  I'm aware now of how much goes into making a film, even a short. I'm a little nervous about how it will be received.  Frankly, aside from some short plays I've written, I'm used to performing other people's work. Most of my writing is on this blog, so it's not like I feel like I'm playing to an audience.  This theater has a 600 seat capacity.  Yikes.

We screen this Sunday night at 9.  The festival is exciting, with many parties, breakfast, lunches, all kinds of things.  I'm being open to whatever happens, and keeping a good attitude. Here we go!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

That moment when...

There is a vogue of late to post things to Facebook, twitter, social media site of the moment, etc., with "that moment when," e.g. "that moment when you forget your house keys," or "that moment when you fall into a well" or "that moment when you forget how to correctly punctuate e.g."  Yeah. That.

This is that moment when you've been sent a box of things from a relative who recently passed away, and you can't bring yourself to open it.  That moment when the photographs of that relative sit an envelope you brought to the funeral and haven't made it back into the picture frames.  That moment when a weekend of Facebook only yields a "look at all the things no one invited me to" in spite of a full weekend with friends.  That moment when you're in a dangerous emotional territory. That moment when "confessional" might be "over-sharing."

It's that moment.  We all pass this way. "Pass" is the word to remember.  There will be other moments.

I did see a play and two movies this weekend, and I'm seeing Cher tomorrow night, so it's not like I've been sitting home brooding.  It might be time to do that, though. But back to our regularly scheduled not scheduled program soon...

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Not going to

I'm not going to write about the Supreme Court decision, and how wrongheaded and disturbing the decision about Hobby Lobby is.

I'm not going to write about the ridiculous open carry laws which just led to a show down in a convenience store in Georgia THE FIRST DAY the law was enacted and the police had to be called.

I'm not going to write about the virulently anti-gay bishop from Minnesota who, surprise surprise, has been revealed to have been in several same-sex relationships.

I'm not going to write about ISIS in Iraq, and how we have possibly spent trillions of dollars on a wrong-headed war where we have once again empowered a group of fundamentalists to take over a country we had no business invading in the first place.

I'm not going to write about the increasing wealth divide and increasing youth unemployment.

I won't write about the drought.

I'm fighting hard against cynicism these days.  I'm looking at ways to take action. There is so much to be upset about.  I know a strategy is to look around and see what is good with your world. There's a lot. And there are things to do.  Perhaps all of this is mobilizing people - realizing that when you don't vote, the people in office do not make decisions that you're happy with.  Or I guess if you're a fundamentalist business owner, they do.

Meanwhile, I'm going to take refuge in history, and have faith that things will work themselves out.  I'm going to enjoy the weekend, and our independence.

And I'm thinking it's time to read Don Quixote.

That last part was a non-sequitur, but it's amazing how many classics there are to read.  Never too late.

In other culture news, Boyhood and Venus in Fur are both opening this weekend, so good news for adults and movies.  I'm also going to see Stupid F*ing Bird at the Boston Court - a remix of Chekhov.  When do you not love that?

Monday, June 30, 2014


I'm writing again with no idea of what will happen. Wish me luck.

Today I was on Melrose waiting to get a standby ticket to a theater.  A young boy, probably about 12, came up to me and asked me to buy his incense for a dollar as he was passing by with his mother.  She kept walking. He looked at me and pleaded, and said please several times, like a child asking a parent for candy at a movie.  I kept saying no for some reason. He only wanted a dollar, and I had a dollar in my pocket.  I didn't want the incense.  I could have given him a dollar.

I don't know why it sticks with me, other than being asked for money by children is always disconcerting.  His mother didn't even notice. I don't know where the live, even if they have a home. A dollar would have been nothing to me.

When I first moved to New York, I would make eye contact with everyone, and smile.  Mostly what this meant was that I was engaged by people who would ask for money. I eventually learned, like everyone else, to avoid eye contact. I learned how to say no. I'm still guilty whenever I do.  A friend got angry with me once when I gave money to someone, asking why this person and not the other ten who've asked. It's a good question.

It's my policy now to buy food. I rarely give someone money, but I'll buy a sandwich or a banana or something. I don't always have money to give, and those are the easiest times. If I'm not carrying cash, I'm not lying.

I wasn't lying today. I didn't want to buy the incense. I was put in an uncomfortable position. I don't want to say no to a child. Would that dollar mean he would have had dinner?  Is that what his mother was looking for when she walked by me to one street corner and then walked past me again on her way back?  Someone else bought incense from the boy.  Some other helpful stranger.

It's going to bother me, if only for the way he said "please." I don't have children, but I said no like I was the adult. I am an adult.  Children shouldn't have to beg for money on the street. I didn't make the situation, but it will be difficult to forget it. Of course, I want to make it some larger recrimination of myself, that I missed a chance to be giving and I was being tested, my karma will be effected.  But I know this is not true. I don't have enough dollars to solve the situation.  Sometimes I'm the helpful stranger, but sadly, not today.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Art text and Ray Kampf

My friend Ray Kampf did a gallery retrospective for this 50th birthday. It was a great one night party downtown at the KGB gallery. One of the neatest projects he did was to have 50 creative people do a version of a 3D graphic representation of himself called a Ray-doh, which looks like a playskool figure.  People did some incredible things.  His work is great, straddling art and design, and he has a great deal of it.  One of his colleagues where he teaches said to him, "I had no idea you were this talented."  He is.

He asked me to write the introduction to his show, which I was honored to do. It's always been something I've wanted to do - write text to curate an art show. I did.  The picture of it is above, and here's the text. I hope you enjoy:

Raymond Kampf is firmly lodged between Duchamp and Disney, on a log flume dark ride through the subconscious of 20th century Americana.  His tools are puns, surprising juxtapositions, comment on commentary. He knows the quickest way to make a point is through humor, and the sharpest jokes reveal a difficult truth.
His work is mid-century optimism meets early 21st century sarcasm. He is Mad Men meets Mad Mag. Though sarcastic, ironic, and even angry, his work is hopeful not pessimistic.  Hope points toward a solution, while pessimism rarely admits there may be one.  He provokes to make the viewer think.
Raymond Kampf pokes you with a stick and runs away laughing.
If Mary Blair, Saul Bass and Charles and Ray Eames starred in a production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” Ray would design the poster. He might even be the missing child.  Deborah Sussman would probably understudy all four parts. It would be performed for Al Hirschfeld.
When Raymond Kampf sees incorrect kerning he becomes incensed, graphically. If we were using Roman numerals we would call this his Lth birthday. It is unclear if he would be annoyed or amused.
In Fauxtopia, Ray reveals the sham hucksterism behind the “amusement” park, making the viewer rethink the concept of “rides” through the juxtaposition of historical events with amusement park themes, e.g, “Triumph of the Will Skyway” or “Dogma and Pony Show” with its exhortation to “Taste Jesus.”  He imagines life and history as a horror ride, finding politics suspect while exposing the ridiculous and horrible underneath; witness “The Red Scare,” “Jingo Juxebox Jubilee” and “Colonial Renaissance Re-enactment Festival Faire.”
In his personal life, when his late partner Jim Daniels was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, Ray expressed his emotion through his art. Working in a form most would closely associate with advertising, Ray explores and engages in the wider world. He asks us to look deeper at graphic art,  and what we find there is surprising, challenging, sometimes touching.
His Christmas illustrations are whimsical, funny, silly, urbane. They are a yearly highlight.  The musical theater timeline is an ingenious salute to one of his favorite subjects. I’m certain you will find a piece, or several, in this retrospective that speaks directly to you.  It’s possible it will be pointing at you and laughing.
Enjoy the world of Kampf. Here’s to his Lth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Getting out of it

So that last post was a little dark.

This morning, I looked at a friend's Facebook, where he had linked to an article written by an old roommate from New York, who is now the senior religion editor on a major news website.  And he's gay.  And married. The post was great, about things to learn from the younger version of yourself.

I looked in the comments below, and most were very favorable.  One, though, had written something that seemed vaguely homophobic, and it linked to his Facebook page. I clicked on that link, and saw some very homophobic vitriolic words.  And then I noticed this person had 9 friends.  9.  And not only that, they all were pictures of young models, so probably not real accounts.

I found this heartening.

Also, a lesson.  I could choose to concentrate on this upsetting, unhappy loner with few friends who feels the need to spew hatred.  Or I could concentrate on the hundreds who enjoyed the post, and had nice things to say.  Whatever is there if I look for it, especially on the internet.

Certainly, there are some troubling things going on in the world. I can despair, or look for a solution.  The solution is always more interesting.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I bought some cherries at the farmer's market on Sunday.  I looked around, since the ones I saw were expensive, $8 for a large pint, and it seemed to be they were less last year.  I went to the youngish guy with the tattoos who has fruit that seems actually organic - bug spots, smaller, riper.  He usually has deals, and if the scale is on your side he'll throw a couple of extra plums in to even out the bunch.  He said, "Sorry, season's over. It was a short one this year." I bought some from the one kiosk selling them, and the older farmer said it was probably the last week. They wouldn't have anymore.

I started thinking about our food supply.  Dying bees, droughts, things we take for granted can just disappear.  Industrial farming has taken a lot of the nutrients out of our food, so even when we're trying to eat healthily, a lot of what we buy is tainted or shiny in presentation but empty of nutrients. It's tempting to make a jab at are culture, that our food is an analog to it, but that's too easy.  I worry we won't have enough one day. It is happening other places.  Money can only get you so much. I couldn't find organic apples for months, and I was told it was just a bad year.  The non-organic, shiny, non-nutritive ones that you're not supposed to eat because they are sponges for pesticides were plentiful.

I was at the gym, and saw pictures of Isis in Iraq, taking over cities. I've become so cynical it would not surprise me if Dick Cheney and Haliburton we're funding them, as he seems to go to any length to try and blame things on Obama, and I read the other day that Haliburton profited something like $137 billion dollars from the war in Iraq.  A war he started, and is now trying to hang on someone else.  He is pure evil.

I worry that the rhetoric he and other conservatives spew about guns, about freedom, somehow equating the idea that guns keep America free while every day another child or another innocent bystander dies from some idiot with a gun, will cause these people to mobilize under some religious banner and turn us into a terrifying theocracy. I typed theocrazy by accident, and that may be more apt. I always want to tell religious nuts to go and live in an actual theocracy for a year, and if they survive, come back and tell us how free it felt to them.

I heard a story on the news this weekend about the slums in Brazil, how outside an expensive new stadium, people are living in a city that must be traversed by boards above still flooded waters, filled with dog excrement and refuse, which causes sickness and death - especially young children.  Millions spent for the world to watch grown men play a game for entertainment, while people die around the corner. We do like to distract ourselves.

I need to look for some more uplifting stories. Maybe we're not meant to know what 7 billion people are doing at every moment of every day. It doesn't effect our day to day lives. I draw incorrect conclusions from history, and at times it seems dark.  It doesn't always go that way, though, does it?  There's still hope we can fix our food, feed people, have enough water, solve our murdering each other in the streets and ignoring the suffering for the sake of a good time, right? Lighten up, I hear someone say. It's only a game.  And it is. Only a game.

I picked up a few different quarts of cherries to see which was the best. The woman at the kiosk assented to my choice, and as she dumped the cherries into a bag there didn't seem to be as many as when they were packed together.  I am savoring each cherry.

Monday, June 09, 2014

My grandmother, part II

I just found out about this video of my grandmother - an interview that my Aunt's son's wife did a couple years ago. I watched a bit of it, and reminded me of her spirit.  I can't watch too much, as I don't want to think about what we've lost. I love her bearing. My mother always said, "There's a reason her husbands called her Queen Esther." She was regal.

Loss is always strange. Loss in our times is even stranger. When you don't see someone every day, you don't feel the lack, and you can still forget or even imagine that they are still around.  I don't know that this has sunk in yet.

This video is not searchable, so I wanted a record of it.  I loved my grandmother's spirit.  I'm also aware that it's late, and I'm avoiding going to bed so I can avoid waking up tomorrow. I don't feel bad about posting it since I don't have a huge following.  And if someone sees it, the worst they can do is celebrate her with us.

We had dinner tonight, the few of the immediate family.  It's bittersweet; great to gather in a way we rarely do, but for a bitter reason. You can see the loss touch people at different times, moving around the room like a malignant spirit. It weighs. But there is also laughter, buoyancy, remembrance, celebration of a life well lived.  This is what we have, and what we all must do if we want to care for people.  I do, and I must.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

For My Grandmother, December 2, 1918 - June 5, 2014

Esther Estelle Katz, my grandmother, died last night peacefully in her sleep.  I didn't want to let the day go without writing about her, things I now or have heard, memories of her. I hope I am not divulging any family secrets, but I've loved these stories that tell how strong and optimistic my grandmother was. The picture above was taken when I was about 3 or 4.

I did not realize how hard it is to put an end date after a birth date.

She was born Esther Muller on December 2, 1918. It was pronounced "Miller" because of anti-German sentiment.  She told me she added the Estelle later because she liked it and it means "star."  It  was a fitting addition.

She was one of four children: Frida, Leo, Marvin & Esther. She told me that she was not a great beauty like her sister, so she had to work. Her sister Frida was 16 months older than she was.  Once, when my grandmother was 7, Frida could not say a Hebrew word for something correctly and was rapped across the knuckles with a ruler by the teacher in Hebrew school. My grandmother took her hand and said, "Come on Frida, we're getting out of here." She took her out of the classroom and back home.  Her mother was terrified she'd done something like that, but when they were called into the headmaster's office he said, indicating my grandmother,  "This one should be a rabbi."  My grandmother refused to go back. It was 1925.

Her father was challenging, and would disappear for days, coming home after a bender remorseful that he'd spent all the money and left the family without food. One day, when she was around thirteen, her father came home remorseful, stood on the landing on the way up to their apartment and said that he should just kill himself. My grandmother opened the window and said, "Jump." He didn't, but I imagine he was wary of saying anything like that again. 1931.

My grandmother didn't love to cook all that much, and would say, "I have kitchens open 24 hours all around town."  If a restaurant wasn't that great she'd say "I can do better than this."  She interviewed the waitstaff and knew everyone's name.  Every restaurant I ever went to with my grandmother, I was told by someone on the staff how special she was. She loved hearing people's stories.

My grandmother wrote wonderful birthday cards saying things like "I am glad you're being you in my Universe." She often said she was filled with "nachas", which is a Yiddish word for joy and pride in one's children or grandchildren.

She was married to my grandfather from the age of 18 to 51 when he passed away.  She was widowed, and had to get by on her own. She went to work, started a business. She struggled. She remarried. And she was always a wonderful force of love in all our lives.

She told me she had been a worrier earlier in her life, so to cure herself she wore a rubber band around her wrist and snapped it to change her habitual thoughts. She loved Jack Kornfield, particularly "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry" and Carolyn Myss "Why People Don't Heal." She took EST and self-esteem workshops.  She went to elder hostel universities with Fred, the brilliant man she married after my grandfather. When she could have stopped and given up at 51, a new widow, she went further into life, continually learning and growing.

I visited my grandmother in April. As always, we spoke about life and how best to live and enjoy  it. She was reading a Buddhist book about transitions.  She had a spiritual counselor she spoke with, a Catholic nun. She loved Ekhart Tolle and the Power of Now. She had been watching him chat with Oprah.

I know I can't begin to touch the loss of a spirit like that. I will miss our conversations. I will miss how alive and engaged she was. I will miss that spirit of investigation and interest. At 95 she moved to a independent living facility, as she felt her social world was shrinking, and she needed to have interaction with people.  We spoke when she had started to settle in, and she told me she was loving it - that what she thought she'd miss she didn't, and that she was enjoying being somewhere new, having a new experience. I will miss her unqualified love, and I will miss being seen by her.

I will miss her terribly. I am grateful to have had her in my life. I wish and hope that everyone has someone like my grandmother in their life, or if not, that they can be that person to someone else. I will think of her every December 2nd, and I'm sure much more often than that. May you all have extraordinary lives, and may your life be a blessing.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Anne LaMott

This puts a lot of those great Anne LaMott pieces of advice and encouragement into one article.  So much great stuff.

"Is it okay with you that you blow off your writing, or whatever your creative/spiritual calling, because your priority is to go to the gym or do yoga five days a week? Would you give us one of those days back, to play or study poetry? To have an awakening? Have you asked yourself lately, “How alive am I willing to be?” It’s all going very quickly. It’s mid-May, for God’s sake. Who knew. I thought it was late February.
It’s time to get serious about joy and fulfillment, work on our books, songs, dances, gardens. But perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will convince you that your work-in-progress is not great, and that you may never get published. (Wait, forget the prowling satanic lion — your parents, living or dead, almost just as loudly either way, and your aunt Beth, and your passive-aggressive friends, whom we all think you should ditch, are going to ask, “Oh, you’re writing again? That’s nice. Do you have an agent?”)"

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some Days

"Some Days (For Paula)" by James Baldwin (sung by Audra McDonald, composer Steve Marzullo)

Some days worry
some days glad
some days
more than make you 
Some days,
some days, more than
when you see what’s coming
on down the line!

Some days you say,
oh, not me never ⎯ !
Some days you say
bless God forever.
Some days, you say,
curse God, and die
and the day comes when you wrestle
with that lie.
Some days tussle
then some days groan
and some days
don’t even leave a bone.
Some days you hassle
all alone.

I don’t know, sister,
what I’m saying,
nor do no man,
if he don’t be praying.
I know that love is the only answer
and the tight-rope lover
the only dancer.
When the lover come off the rope
the net which holds him
is how we pray,
and not to God’s unknown,
but to each other ⎯ :
the falling mortal is our brother!

Some days leave
some days grieve
some days you almost don’t believe.
Some days believe you
and you won’t.
Some days worry
some days mad
some days more than make you glad.
Some days, some days,
more than shine,
coming on down the line!

Friday, May 09, 2014

Fairport Convention

I heard this song on my mix on Pandora today, and it's one of my favorites.  I couldn't remember when I first heard it, or first heard Fairport Convention, and then I remembered it was on Long Island in 1989 or 1990. I had gone there on student exchange my senior year in college, mistakenly believing it would be like Boston. When you're from the West, something that close on the map seems like it's just the same place.  I was wrong.

Anyhow, I was living in a group house with a woman who would become a dear friend, Leah, and a bunch of scientist PhD housemates.  I was dipping my toes in the gay and lesbian student group, where I had met Leah, ten years my senior and coming out after years of hiding and being born again.  We laughed a lot.

During one of the gay/lesbian mixers, I met a guy named Tony Morosco from SUNY New Paltz.  He and I had a flirtation in the way that I did in those virginal times.  He was Italian, and had a New York accent, with a little bit of a glottal stop on his t's, and he seemed so exotic and sexy. I visited him upstate but nothing happened; we were two blocks with each other as solid as those institutional walls of that drab campus where we met.  He was a sweet guy, but we weren't a match it seems. I wouldn't have even had an idea of what to do if the opportunity had presented itself. Instead, we both just spent an awkward weekend together.  I listened endlessly to folkish music, hung out with lesbians, and was as dark as those dark times were were living in.

I don't know why he came into my mind. It's possible he introduced me to Fairport Convention. It certainly feels like it could go with New Paltz and upstate New York.  I don't know if he did or not.  I do remember the ache of unrequited love, or lust, or puppy obsession.  It felt so insoluble, and so important.

Who knows where the time goes?

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Time Spent - The Gerwshin's Porgy & Bess

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program....

Last night I went to see "The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess" performed at the Ahmanson, which is the tour of last year's Broadway revival with Audra McDonald and Norm Lewis. Neither of them traveled with the production, which still had some great performances.  My overall impression, though, was speedy.  The production, with intermission, is about 2:45, and it sped by.  The original opera is four hours.

The music is, of course, beautiful, including "Summertime," "Ain't Necessarily So," "I Got Plenty o' Nothin'," "I Loves You, Porgy" and a host of others.  It's a brilliant score, and though I can't speak of it in musical terms, you can hear the echoes all the way to today.  There are parts that sound completely contemporary, though written in 1935.  Truly, it's a beautiful score. It has a storied history, and was politically challenging for a long time (and still is for some), so I won't comment about that.  You can read all about it on Wikipedia.  It has though, for most, gone into the canon of American music, and some call it the first, and possibly the only, great American Opera.

This production is sleek, the performances interesting, the singing beautiful.  Strangely, though, I was bothered by the length.  There were some plot points changed, which is expected when you're condensing, but I was left feeling less than emotionally engaged, which was disappointing.  I know the Broadway production relied heavily on Audra McDonald, who is one of the most incredible performers of the last several decades.  She won one of her five Tonys for this role, and I'm sure deservedly.  While watching, I kept think how spectacular she would have been; I've seen her twice and she was incredible both times.  The production without her, though, feels like it's moving from plot point to plot point somewhat. The scenes are truncated to sometimes a few lines, and the rich emotion of the music is not supported by the hurriedness of the scenes.  I saw a friend outside who was not familiar with the piece, and he was confused about what was going on.

It's a current theme in the theater that things need to be quick to catch the attention of a modern audience, who we're constantly told will not sit still for long periods.  With this production, I kind of felt like I was watching a TV version of "Porgy and Bess."  Any nuance that was not in the music - don't get me wrong, there is an incredible amount of nuance in the music - is gone. The scenes are played to get to the next plot point and the next song.  The crucial thing we're missing, though, to care emotionally about these characters, is time.  I still think it's a powerful work.  It certainly stands up to trimming. The music itself is rich enough that you could do a concert version and still touch people.  I just wonder what it would have been like to spend some more time with them. I think people underestimate what a book and recitative do in an opera.  We're not just moving from plot point to plot point, we're getting to know about care about these people. Small gestures, jokes, relationships, all serve to make the world.  The performers here did a great job of creating a community, but the text they were given to do that with was mostly exposition to get to the next incident, or at least that's how it felt to me.  Perhaps four hours is too long, but I think two and half hours is a little too short.  If you have confused audience members you're not telling your story.

I could be unique in the view, though.  One of my favorite moments was during the curtain call, when the actor playing Crown took his bow.  He bowed, and people booed as well as cheered, as he played a great villain.  He jokingly growled at the audience and everyone laughed. It felt like we were at an old-fashioned melodrama. So people were engaged. I just wanted a little more.  I would love War & Peace no more at 400 pages, at 3 times that it's one of the best things I've ever read.  If it were shorter, I perhaps would not have engaged so thoroughly with the world.  I know we keep working to expedite for fear of losing our audiences, but fear that impulse is what will ensure we do.  Streamline, by all means, but not at the risk of losing the richness, the emotion, and the reason we go to the theater in the first place.  That said, I'm glad I saw it, and would recommend it.  It's some of the most beautiful music written for the theater, sung and performed beautifully.  Wanting more might not be a bad thing.

Words with friends

I just watched a sweet video from this guy at Adventures in Gay about his coming out, after I had watched his very silly gay classification kingdom video in which he makes up some very silly terms. He's 25, and an artist, and talked about his difficulty calling himself an artist, as well as his growth once he came out.  I did not possess that self awareness when I was 25.  I think it's dawning on me slowly at 45 - all those acting classes where they were trying to get me to just be myself when I was trying to be anything but. The struggle now is not looking at those as lost years, but necessary years.  I've lived through some things. I'm getting better at being honest about who I am. That's been a long journey. It was inspiring to hear him say that being gay is not normal, but special, and to embrace what that is and make something of it.  What a wonderful point of view.  It's heartening.

I was playing words with friends, and lost for a word to play.  Sometimes I'm completely flummoxed, and the only word that seems possible is "it" or possibly "es" or the like.  Then I start to think I'm not smart enough to play words with friends, and that everyone I play with will think I'm stupid.  It's usually not a great day when that's happening. This morning on the way to work, for instance, NPR was playing a story about a child with eye cancer, and how his devoted father was working on an application that could spot this cancer in pictures of children, thereby detecting the possibility of disease earlier and saving their lives and their eyes. This father was devoted.  My father, not so much, sadly - he had a disease of his own to deal with. How is it possible to miss something you never had? Do I even remember correctly, having been a child? Self-pity is never fun, but in the morning, it can ruin your whole day. Most times I do not go to this place, but for some reason this morning I did.  By the time I got out of my car I was too old to do anything new, a failure, fat, insane, and most certainly emotionally unable to ever be in a relationship with anyone other than my sad, failed self. And my car needs to be vacuumed.

These thoughts are like a subterranean sewer system in my brain.  Most of the time, they're just chugging through, and out to the ocean to dissolve, and I don't even notice.  At any point, though, I can lift the manhole cover and dive right in.  It happens pretty quickly.

Playing words with friends, I looked away and when I looked back I saw a word that I hadn't seen, and played it for a lot of points.  That happens fairly often.  Order is restored. I'm back in the game.  A solution presents itself.  I forget to look away sometimes, but when I can, I look back and it all looks different.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Act One

I finally read Moss Hart's "Act One," his autobiography from his childhood to writing his first play with George S. Kaufman.  It's fantastic. I'd been hearing about it for years, and it sat on my shelf for many. I think I bought it when I lived in New York. It looks like you can read the whole thing online here.

It's quite a read - rags to riches, it reads like an adventure story itself.  Actually, it was just turned into a play this season by James Lapine and was nominated for a Tony, as was Tony Shalhoub for playing George S. Kaufman.  What struck me most was how little has changed.  His milieu was Broadway in the twenties, as well as the mountain camps that singles would go to every year for their summer vacations.  His struggle, his tenacity, and his self-knowledge are all remarkable.  True, too, his assessment of actors, directors, producers, and everyone involved in the theater.  I was struck at what he said about actors:

The general conception is that all actors are born exhibitionists is far from the truth. They are shy, frightened people in hiding from themselves - people who have found a way of concealing their secrets by footlights, make-up, and the parts they play. Their own self rejection is what made most of them actors. What better way to solve the problem than to be someone other than the self one has rejected, and be accepted and applauded for it every night. They have solved the problem, but not its torment.

He's got some great things to say about directing and writing, and working with a group of disparate personalities, to say nothing of the great character drawn of George S. Kaufman. It's funny, touching, and hard to put down. I can remember few books that have ended with me tearing up, but this is one of them.  Great book.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Old Stories

I'm visiting my grandmother in St. Louis. She's moved into a long term care facility, but one that is more like a hotel - she gets meals downstairs in the dining room, but also has a full kitchen if she'd like to cook instead of dine; there are many activities that she can do that are organized; there's a fitness center and specialists. It's quite nice.  She moved to have more social interaction, as she is 95 and found that her social circle was shrinking, and due to a recent fall she's not going outside as much.  She uses a walker (is it still called a walker if it's on wheels?), and that limits her somewhat, but she still has all her faculties. 

We spoke about what we usually do: philosophies, how to live life, how we gain meaning from life, and how the past shapes us and what we can do to unlearn it.

During lunch yesterday we were interrupted by Mrs. O'Brien, who was passing slowly by.  She was a nun she told us, and ended up married. She's from Wisconsin. Apparently her son helped build the place, and when her husband died, he packed her suitcases, and all her things and put her up in St. Louis. She said she never imagined she'd not live in the house he built, or that it would be the last time she saw it; she didn't even know what he was doing when he packed all her clothes in front of her.  She said she only had a picture of the house to remind her, her only memento of it.  

When she left, my grandmother said it was kind of me to listen to all of her story. I thought it was interesting, but apparently she tells it somewhat often.  My grandmother said there is a fair amount of dementia, so it has been an adjustment hearing people tell the same stories over and over.  She said we all have a narrative, and a lot of the people just tell their story to anyone.  They will tell it, for instance, to someone they've never met having lunch with someone else. They have a need to say who they are, and tell you what their life was.

Last week in LA, I stage managed an event that was hosted by two younger people who are youtube stars. Apparently, they have a large online presence.  Instead of going to the reception they were invited to before the event, they stayed in the dressing room and had a conversation with each other and one other friend while someone filmed them. In fact, they were being filmed most of the time. 

It's somewhat the same action. Interestingly, they came across as a little self-obsessed, where Mrs. O'Brien did not. She seemed to be telling her story to make sense of it, though, and somewhat to get me on her side - knowing that it would sound flabbergasting to me, too.  I didn't find it off-putting, and unlike the youngsters, it didn't feel performed. 

Once again, I don't know what the point of this, but it's fascinating how we reveal ourselves, especially now when there are many available avenues to do it.  The event was about creating community through online interaction, though in the case of the two hosts it felt it was at the price of real connection in real time.  Real connection and community in real time, though, as my grandmother explained, can be just as tricky to find.

Friday, April 18, 2014


I was off today. Good Friday.  It started with a hike up Runyon Canyon in the gray morning. I was at a loss for what to do most of the day. I took a voice lesson, and remembered how vulnerable it is to sing.

I slipped in my shower, making the mistake of getting out while the water was running to get a new bar of soap. I banged up my shin, and got a rush of adrenaline enough to give me a headache.

An art show at the Brewery of the Stations of the Cross. The artist, from his explanation, is very Christian. Large photos that had been manipulated in different ways, with layers of paint and laquer. There was a woman playing Jewish liturgical music on an old piano. She had a beautiful alto voice that quieted the room.  A man petted an Italian Greyhound, which immediately made the surroundings look like the subject of a painting. I thought about the stories we tell ourselves, and the ramifications they have.

At Sunset and Cesar Chavez a little dog ran away from its owners. The cars were stopped for the road being blocked by a traffic officer, and in the midst of trying to turn all stopped for a tiny gray dog running into headlights.  Its owner tried to make himself large, or head off the animal, by putting his arms out to his side and charging. The dog was scared further.  Finally, he was scooped up. The couple laughed and picked up their other dog.  Having to circle around the block, I saw them at the next corner waiting for light while a man played the saxophone.

On main street a woman held a baby on a balcony while a man smoked. The door to their small apartment was open, the lights on and a curtain blew in the breeze. It looked like a room in a motel.

A round woman in a little black dress laughed and flirted with a man outside a club.

Outside the Tacozone truck, a man screamed at all the passersby that something was going to happen to them.  A boy walked up to the truck with his mother. She asked him if wanted a quesedilla of queso or pollo, and he said pollo. She had surprise in her voice, but not on her face.

I thought again about my ex-boyfriend - how when I taught him to dance he was grinning so hard it made my heart burst. I wished I could make him smile like that always. Sometimes you can't keep it inside.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

What I shouldn't be doing

I spoke with my 95 year-old grandmother the other day, and mentioned that my mother asked how my romantic life was.  I told her I had only broken up with my boyfriend a scant two months ago, and that wasn't enough time.

"How long are you going to mourn that?" she asked. I laughed, but she was serious. I told her I didn't feel like dating.  She asked if sometimes you don't take the action first and the feeling follows. She's an emotional ninja.  And wise. She had just been watching Eckhart Tolle and Oprah in conversation.

I've been taking some action. I don't feel like it. But she's right, if I waited for the feeling to happen first, I'd pretty much never do anything. I have a fair amount of experience of that in this area. It's a mass of doubt, and looking at online dating sites makes me sad and anxious.  Maybe it's not really time yet.

I don't know if mourning is the right word. I think maybe healing is. I'm surprised how hard this has hit me. I initiated it, and I think it's right for both of us, but like anything else I may not know that for another decade.  Regret is so much easier than looking forward.  At the moment, it's the lazy choice. As the song says, breaking up is hard to do. This one has been the hardest so far. Kinda makes me want to stop trying altogether.

So I have some coffee dates set up. I'm asking questions. I'm listening and responding. I'm remembering that I learned I get to have an opinion about whether I want to date someone, not just worry what he thinks about me - that never turns out well.  I'm taking the action. I'm hoping the feelings will follow.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Story of the Jews

I have watched the first two episodes of Simon Schama's The Story of the Jews on PBS.  Completely fascinating. I bought the book, too.

I had no idea that the Exodus story happened around 1245 BCE, so the books of the Torah were set down later than I thought.  There is so much to tell in a more than 3,000 year history, obviously, but I'm  amazed at how much historians have learned.

I've always found the construction of religion fascinating. This particular story is one that shaped our world.  It's also always interesting to learn more about my own ancestors.  I find that impulse, the one to organize around an idea of God, fascinating. Independent of belief, it's the action that fascinates me.  How we as Jews have survived this long is quite incredible. The story makes you wonder if we weren't in diaspora, would we have survived as long. Has the adversity actually shaped tradition, and made people hold fast to the identity?  I can't answer that, of course, but having a link to those traditions, and seeing where they come from, is mighty powerful.

Funnily enough, after drafting this I read this philosophical discussion in the New York Times, titled Is Belief a Jewish Notion?, which explorers some of these ideas.  I find it very interesting - the practice and belief vs. the idea and the definition.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A**hole theory

I'm not starting a new branch of philosophy, just musing. And it always gives something the aura of intellect to put "theory" after it.

I live in Los Angeles, and used to live in New York, and there is a type, usually in a position of power, that I have encountered. 

Disclaimer - I'm not saying I currently work with any of these types, or even have in the past. Blessedly I've been fortunate to work with some great people here and in New York, in positions of great power. That does not mean, though, that I have not been a bystander, sometimes in a restaurant, sometimes in the street. 

I have always been interested in ego. I'm confounded, at time, at the self-interest that people can show. We all have it to some degree, but the particular type I'm concerning myself with here has it in spades. 

I've watched these people on both coasts, though I don't believe you have to live on a coast to be one. I do, though, wonder at the short-sightedness of this particular ego-maniac, though not too much time as life is short. 

What I'm figuring, though, is that they are in pain. Rich or poor, the a**hole must be in some pain. It's not easy to be them.  And seeing them in action, I wonder that they are given things for behaving this way.  This is my charitable assumption. but only because, it makes it somewhat easier to deal with them. I figure that people, at their base level, want to solve pain when it is presented to them.  Therefore, when they are presented with someone who seems to be always dissatisfied and angry about it, they want to help them. That help is usually in the form of giving them what they want, so they will hopefully be released from their pain.

I've heard it said that Chekhov plays are peopled with two types: those who only need one small thing to make them happy but will never get it, and those who have everything but will always be dissatisfied.  You know, a**holes.

Unfortunately, for the afflicted, they are not released from their pain.  Acquisition only makes them more dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction is their main tool for obtaining more. Nothing can assuage them, as they are just an a**hole.

Sad, really.  I'll keep you posted on more areas of this exciting new scholarship, but I like to spend as little time as possible thinking about them, so it may be a while.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Not to navel gaze too much here, but I've been thinking about a test I took in 4th grade in Omaha, which purported to predict what our best future career would be.

My answer: Philosopher

I had to look it up. It's possible that it was psychologist, but I think it's philosopher, since my first thought was, "Do I have to wear a white robe?"

I think of this when I think about blogging here. I've gotten okay at short posts, but I mostly want to struggle with questions of the God idea, why we believe what we believe, what's happening that's splintering America, how our brains are changing when we spend our time in front of machines.

So, philosophizing.  My concerns are two fold: length (no one reads anymore. I've been repeatedly asked at work to bullet point things, as my writing is style is, to put it kindly, verbose) and opinion. There's a fear of putting some opinion out there and then having to stand behind it.  The web seems like a crazy place. Of course, anyone reading this would probably understand the tone in which something was intended, but you never know.  They always say you can't control tone. Though they could be wrong, some writers do it well.  And I guess it's really the third thing - I can't argue a point without trying to look at the other side. Usually I can see it.  Not always. See, I'm even noncommittal in that.

I resisted the impulse to put a smiley face there.  Controlling tone through emoticons; what a tool that's been lacking for years.  I'm sure the British would have taken the Declaration of Independence completely differently if it ended with a smiley face. Or a #sorrynotsorry.

Anyhow, I may just start writing on metaphysics or something here. So don't be surprised.  I'm very interested in it.  And I'll try to keep a straight face.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

More advice

A friend posted Stephen King's Top 20 Rules for Writers on Facebook, a site that is quickly becoming a danger zone to me, but that's another story.  I like these.  They're  pretty much what you hear from everyone - take time, be in the world, turn of your TV, learn how you work.  That last one is elusive to me lately, as I seem to be not sitting down. Sigh.

I finished my short, and began submitting it to festivals.  I was not invited to a screenwriting lab I submitted to, but I did write the ten pages and the outline I was asked to. I'm taking a pilot writing workshop and did my outline for that. I just have to sit down and write the dang thing.  That's the way.  So I guess when I say "I'm not doing anything" I'm actually doing things.

I should make more lists.

The whole reason I'm posting this Stephen King thing is this last bit he wrote:

"Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink."

The water is free.  So drink.  I forget it's that simple. So good to be reminded.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Bradbury and writing

A friend forwarded this great post about Ray Bradbury, including some wonderful video of him talking about writing, including a short documentary called "A Conversation with Ray Bradbury" and another short doc from the 1960's.

It's great to watch, but this quote struck me, blurbed at the top -

‘I never went to college — I don’t believe in college for writers. The thing is very dangerous. I believe too many professors are too opinionated and too snobbish and too intellectual, and the intellect is a great danger to creativity… because you begin to rationalize and make up reasons for things, instead of staying with your own basic truth — who you are, what you are, what you want to be. I’ve had a sign over my typewriter for over 25 years now, which reads ‘Don’t think!’ You must never think at the typewriter — you must feel. Your intellect is always buried in that feeling anyway.’”

This reminded me of something my singing teacher used to say: "Sing Stupid."  She said some of the best singers were not that smart, or could turn it off, because the minute you start thinking about it you seize up a lot of creativity. 

I also remember reading something about the facility for language being the closest to the rational brain, so when trying to write (creativity) using a rational tool (language), it's harder to be in that creativity than when creating art or the like.  So, write stupid?

Or maybe, "Write, stupid."  Though that doesn't sound very nice.  And easier said than done.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Character is Destiny

I went into my garage to look for a book for a friend this weekend.  As can happen, I opened one box and found a bunch of old notebooks from college. I once wrote a four page poem of rhymed couplets about an overdressed 18th century noblewoman losing her battle with nature, so whenever I stumble on a box of old papers I haven't sifted through, I stop and take a look.  I didn't even know I had some of this stuff, or why I've kept it.  Most of it had been at my parents house until the last ten years or so, but it's a long time to have old notes from drama classes and blank paper. I have several dittoed syllabi, which dates me.

Looking through my notes from one of my drama lecture classes, I saw the note "Character is Destiny" writ large in the middle of the page. I don't know why that particular line stood out, except that I'm trying to develop a story, and I'm having a difficult time with it.  The line seemed so simple - character is destiny.  All stories come out of character.  It sounds easy, doesn't it?

Today I was reading a New York Times Magazine interview with Phillip Roth, and what should he say during the interview, but "Yes, character is destiny, but everything is chance."

Character is destiny twice in as many days.  What is the universe trying to tell me?  Probably nothing - a happy coincidence.  Especially if everything is chance.

I'm hoping this helps me in some way, and not just to wonder what my character will reveal or has reveled about my own destiny.  It's hard not to wonder.

Thursday, February 06, 2014


I've been very sad lately.  Happens. Some life things. Sometimes things are hard. Today was cloudy and gray, which felt right, and I found myself looking longingly at sweatshirts at a shop here at work.  I had two bowls of soy ice cream last night - it takes two of those to one of a regular, in case you're interested.

A friend has been reading this book with her daughter's class. I've never read it, but I remember this cover from years ago. I found a copy for $2.00 at the Iliad bookshop, a great used bookstore in North Hollywood. I used to work in a bookshop. We had a cat. I think shops must be a little cozier than stores; I'm assuming that's in the definition.

Next week I'll be taking a little vacation time. I've been doing a lot, and a lot has happened. I'm holding on, as I know it will pass. It will just be a little rocky until it does.  In the meantime, I'm still writing, still exercising, but just allowing a little time for a new old familiar, a sweatshirt, and comfort.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All Shall Be Well

I saw this at the Nickel Diner this weekend, and I need this message. I had only heard the name Julian of Norwich but I didn't know who she was.  14th century Christian mystic.  Very interesting stuff, at least in a theological sense. It's good to remember that people have been thinking these things for a long time, even though they don't always make it through -

"Julian believed that it was inaccurate to speak of God's granting forgiveness for sins, because forgiving would mean that committing the sin was wrong. She preached that sin should be seen as a part of the learning process of life, not a malice that needed forgiveness. She wrote that God sees us as perfect and waits for the day when human souls mature so that evil and sin will no longer hinder us."

Wow, that seems way beyond the 14th century.  From this page, one theory is that because she was a woman the Catholic church did not bother to refute her ideas.  Because of that, they live on today.  She even refers to Christ as mother. Kind of radical.  I'm not into Christian theology, but it would be interesting to read her "Revelations of Divine Love."  Sounds like it would be as valid as anything else. 

What more interests me is that the revelations were dreams during an illness. She wrote on them for the rest of her life.  I wonder how that would be treated today. So many prophets had visions, but they were living in completely devout worlds, surrounded by religion. It's not surprising it filled their dreams. I wonder what we'd say to a divinely revealed text today, or if there could even be one that does not seem full of dogma and personal interest (see Joseph Smith).

People reach for something. We all do. It's a frightening world. Some days are very hard.  When it comes down to it, we just want someone to say it's going to be all right, all will be well.