Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Looking Up

This is the corner of a street I cross each day.  From one side of the sidewalk to the other, buildings crawl up and I'm left below while the sun giggles in and slips away.  I stole this moment in between meetings and I thought if I captured it I could keep the sky.

I don't know what it is about looking up that makes me think I can turn the shape of clouds into dreams or find someone I've lost.  Maybe it's because our feet are rooted to pavement and concrete and grass, because the dirt of the earth is so final.  But it seems that the moment I look up is the moment I let myself believe nothing truly reaches an end.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop - FAIL

This is the post where Melissa admits that she forgot about the My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop, hosted by the fabulous Amy, Christa, and Andrea, and proceeds to speak in third person because of her shame and admits she can not post today because she is at the office and no where near her whining teenage diaries or awful poems and instead re-posts something she wrote when she was eleven years old because she doesn't know what else to do:

Ten is Enough

In the parting words of every terrible corporate email ever to cross a person's inbox in an attempt to make something bad okay...

...thank you for understanding.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Why I Love My Neighborhood

Because I'll walk into the local flower shop, (which I'm reminded has been in the neighborhood for over one hundred years) be told I can get whatever I want (yet, if I get anything but fresh tulips I'm crazy) and leave with, not just tulips but, four lollipops, a Saint calendar (and, really, even three months into the year, who can refuse a saint calendar?), and a very official business card.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Artist is Present - Part II

A few years ago I had written of Marina Abramovic's exhibit at the MoMAThe Artist is Present. Knowing very little of Abramovic's work, I sat, transfixed, watching her physically sit across from strangers to share a moment of silence. Abramovic sat each day for three months as museum visitors rotated into the empty seat opposite her.  Strangely obsessed, I watched for an entire afternoon.

As I said then and will say now, I know very little about Abramovic or art and even less about performance art. But I can say with absolute certainty, that I have never had a work of art move me as this did.

Today, a friend brought this work back to my attention with a video of Abramovic's experience at MoMa.  It came with an accompanying story.  Abramovic and the artist Ulay started an intense love story in the 70's. When they felt that their relationship had run its course, they each walked the Great Wall of China from opposite ends, met in the middle, and parted for good.

This video features The Artist is Present exhibit. The first minute shows how she sat with various strangers. Then Ulay arrives without her knowing.


(I have read some controversy as to whether or not this was staged, whether they had met weeks prior or even that morning. To me, it doesn't matter.  This is story. This is what we can reveal in a moment between two people.  This is what can happen.)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Silence That Wants To Speak

Today I walked and looked and saw these words but it took someone else to point out the rose sprouting from the wobbling jenga block building below. It struck me, how important it is that we pay closer attention. Especially to silence, to what it might shield, what it desires.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Knowing What's Next

I feel like I've been creeping under dark canopies, wanting to know tomorrow, standing, waiting, between things, beneath them. When I crossed the footbridge, I watched this encounter, and she didn't like me stealing their parting, so it blurred because I wasn't brave enough to stare straight through their splitting seam.

New York has been like this lately, skulking through each day, whispering you can't know me.  It's gathered rain and snow at our feet and sent us inside the caves of umbrellas, forced us into yarned labyrinths of winding scarves.

I've been dreaming many new things.  I've been wanting to unravel them all. I've wondered, too often, over the years, what's next for me?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Why I Love Used Books

This is why I love reading used books and library books best. Here, look...a purple question mark, left behind, tucked in the folds. I've been given so many gifts over the years, underlined sentences, wrinkled bookmarks, old ticket stubs.

I love knowing that a book has passed through different lives, that it has lived its own life too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Okay To Dream

In the late hours last night, I found myself reaching an end. I completed another set of revisions for RABBIT ISLAND, a book that has sent me flying on both real and metaphorical rollercoasters for years, a book whose title I can not seem to shed because it's so rooted in this place that I can't imagine the unimaginative title any other way.

Yesterday, I sat with my boss, Jeff, as I do each week and though the meeting is on our calendar to discuss a weekly status, the discussion is never quite about where we are, but where we wish we, that is to say, our company, our industry, this 'business' of play (I work for a toy company), could be.

Over the years, he and I have stood in conference rooms and pitched endless ideas to bored listeners. We've been dismissed and berated more times than we've been encouraged.  And, while I've often grown weary and retreated, Jeff, instead, continues to fly off on zig-zag paths, what if, what if, and soon he thinks we don't just have an idea but a movement, a musical revue with booming ensemble spectacles in the third act, and I never quite know how we get to Rockette kicks and jazz hands (you'll have to ask him) but I always end up thinking, Okay. Yeah. Yes. Let's go. 

Our discussion yesterday turned towards people, to the leadership of our company, and we wondered what it would be like, if we walked into a room and instead of the eye-roll, the bored sigh, the I don't know, I don't really get it, do we really have time for this now?, we received a help me understand, or, a why don't you try this, or I have an idea! How about...

Last night, I thought a lot about this, about hope, about possibility, about the people who encourage creativity rather than suppress it.  I thought about how it trickles, how one sarcastic, snide comment shifts an entire conference room of people, shifts the culture of a company of hundreds.

I wondered if I have let others stomp and whine and no no no too many times. I thought, if I had to look towards leadership, I'd better look towards Jeff, who will go anywhere, who will piggyback any idea and ride it just to see where it goes.  I thought, I have to be that person to others. I have to be open, kind. I have to shift the mood another way.  It has to start with me.

When I reached the final sentences of my novel, last night, I felt hopeful, a feeling I have foolishly suppressed in the past. Sometimes it's hard to hope, to let yourself wish for things but, yesterday, after I saved the document, then emailed it to myself, watched it pop up bold and new in my inbox, I thought, it has to be okay to dream.  We have to open ourselves, and others, to that possibility.

Monday, March 11, 2013

New York Postcard

Last Monday, I came home late, near the midnight hour, after watching a tennis match at Madison Square Garden. I had an angry fire throat and a pesky cough. I rode the F train and wished desperately for sleep.

The train was crowded but I'd managed a seat while Tyler hung at the pole, and I stared through the cracks of coats and bags, watched as across the way, two burly passengers -- like a children's book, one short and wide, the other large and long -- smashed together into a seat like two cymbals gonging.

There was an immediate confrontation.  The two-seater was suddenly not large enough for all three: the wide one, the long one, and the bag the wide one insisted upon slapping upon the bench.  There were accusations flung.

You didn't ask if you could sit here!

I don't have to ask! 

And over and over, this is a public space, man. This is a public space.

I watched as both of them refused to move and, instead, sat uncomfortably squashed. The wide one clutched his bag beside him, stared straight ahead. The long one smooshed himself between the railing and his enemy, trying to read a newspaper.  He looked like sausage oozing out of the casing, his impossibly long arms bent and woozy, as they awkwardly crinkled the unruly pages. 

On our walk home, Tyler and I laughed at their stubborn, crunched up silence.

I would have snapped a portrait if I could.  A New York postcard.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Career Assessment

A memory of career assessment.  I was twelve years old. My desk was a flat, wooden arm, winging off my hard-backed seat.  Lead pencil smudged across the bump of my wrist.  I filled in each bubble because I knew, I knew, I'm going to be a writer.  And with every question, my heart would whisper its own.  Is this the answer a writer would give?  I circled. I nodded. I knew.

Days later, a typed description in a printed booklet crossed my desk. Lines dipped and mountain-peaked and soared on a chart.  I scanned the fuzz of wordy descriptions, so certain, so sure.

When I flipped to the final assessment, however, my heart slipped. Writer was low on the list, practically last.  Healer, it read.  Number one.

I didn't understand.  Healer?  I thought I'd be barefoot. I thought I'd hold a flute, charm a snake, rub leaves across others cheeks, touch my hand to a bowed head.

What does this mean? I asked my teacher.

She turned a page, pointed to the description, to the suggested careers.  Doctor. Nurse. Member of the clergy.

I panicked. My grades in science class were abysmal. Doctor and nurse were not in my future.  I'd have to be a nun like Sister Regina at my church, who had made fun of my sign of the cross because it was backwards. Up-down-right-left.  But everyone else went left-right.  Left-right, she had smirked and grabbed my wrist, thunked my hand against my shoulders, over and over, left-right.  

I imagined my future self in a Climb Every Mountain-esque Mother Superior habit, shouting and stomping, left-right, left-right!

Writer was its own separate category with its own suggested careers. Journalist. Novelist.  Poet.  It sat at the bottom of my list.  It sat at the bottom of me.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Choosing Love

My boss's eight year old daughter sent a stack of these bracelets to me.  I could choose just one, was the message from her, just one of four: fortune, health, happiness, or love.

So I chose.