Friday, September 14, 2012

Hop, Skip, Jump!

Hop, skip, jump on over to my new blog:

A more permanent blogosphere incarnation: it is the site where I will share my thoughts on the world, as well as photographs and updates on the jewelry business and life transition.

Thanks for reading --- and enjoy!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful

(I know...the last entry was supposed to be the last entry, but this morning, I woke up and found Horses Make a Landscape More Beautiful by Alice Walker, and I remembered all the times that I have read her writing, and it is grey and almost rainy outside, so I sat on the black leather couch with some coffee and found this poem.)


These mornings of rain
when the house is cozy
and the phone doesn't ring
and I am alone
though snug
in my daughter's
fire-red robe

These mornings of rain
when my lover's large socks
cushion my chilly feet
and meditation
has made me one
with the pine tree
outside my door

These mornings of rain
when all the noises coming
from the street
have a slippery sound
and the wind whistles
and I have had my cup
of green tea

These mornings
in Fall
when I have slept late
and dreamed
of people I like
in places where we're
obviously on vacation

These mornings
I do not need
my beloveds' arms about me
until much later
in the day.

I do not need food
I do not need the postperson
I do not need my best friend
to call me
with the latest
on the invasion of Grenada
and her life

I do not need anything.

To be warm, to be dry,
to be writing poems again
(after months of distraction
and emptiness!)
to love and be loved
in absentia
is joy enough for me.

On these blustery mornings
in a city
that could be wet
from my kisses
I need nothing else.

And then again,
I need it all.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

At last.....the last

Weightless - Brian Eno

1. "We just want to stay with you!!! You are leaving....we want to be with you!!!" - on asking the students how they want their schedule to be during the last week of half days. Monday - Thursday are going to be divine.
2. Giving plants away to a student who has taken care of them all year. I bought him an epiphyte at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden over the winter and he has taken such pride in its care. I gave him all the classroom plants. Yesterday, he took the first load home in a white cardboard box. Inside it, carefully placed, were a jade plant and saucer, four African violets, his epiphyte and a purple watering can. Today he took home a night-blooming cereus in a hanging basket.
3. Finishing things, no matter how hard that is for me.
4. Dressing up like a Fireman from Fahrenheit 451 to celebrate the life of Ray Bradbury, the importance of books, and the value of being a smidge anarchistic.
5. Cooking dinner for oneself on a rainy night, in a friend's kitchen, whilst drinking a glass of wine and listening to good music. Those moments are what it is all about.

Nightlite - Bonobo

Today, I drove back to my friend's house, the old Germantown house where I have been staying for about two weeks, at around 4:30. I drove up 5th street, out of the ghetto, or the Ojo de Oro as sometimes it is called, into northwest Philly, and back into beautiful Germantown. Over the last two weeks, I have often thought that had I lived in Germantown, would my experience of Philadelphia been fundamentally different? Most definitely yes, but I still think I would be moving on. 

I leave Philly in a week! A week from now, I will be grilling with friends here at this house, drinking beer and eating food with the good people in my life, and finishing packing my car. My car has become a three-dimensional Tetris game of my accoutrement: the junk I saved after the massive sell off. 

You've Got the Love - Florence and the Machine

So that's it. It is amazing how much can change in a year: how the course of your life can change, how you can have one plan and then another and then the better one just shows up in front of your eyes and you can be sitting on a roof in Mexico and realize you don't have to have an excuse for anything in life, you just have to make choices and do things and stay true to yourself and remember that you always know the right answer.

The other day, I had my exit interview with my principal, and the funniest thing happened. We were talking about all the my positives and negatives about the school, what worked and what didn't, and I told her the funniest thing, something that I hadn't even realized before I spoke it aloud. I thanked her because, out of the miasma that was my Philadelphia experience, the one place of stability was the school. The school was nuts, don't get me wrong, but its consistency in nuttiness was the one thing I could count on here. I knew, more or less, what was going to happen every day, what the walls looked like, where to park my car, how to get lunch from the Dominican restaurant down the street, where to pick up last minute supplies on Front Street if I needed them. Isn't that funny? School was my place of stability in a city of craziness.

Papa Legba - Talking Heads

So tonight I am sitting in this yellow room, looking at piles of books and two suitcases of clothes, and a mantle covered with photos of the people I love, and am realizing that I am out of here so quickly. Epiphanies are funny things: the choice comes in actually listening to what you learn from yourself, and for acting on those realizations. I think, perhaps, that most of us know what we should do about 90% of the time, but there are so many distractions that stop us from acting. 

So happy am I to realize that Philadelphia was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Thanks for reading. There will be a new, better blog soon, I think. Probably. For now, though, I am going to enjoy my next six days......

Philadelphia - Bruce Springsteen

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Julie With... - Brian Eno

Wrapping up things in Philadelphia mean wrapping up things here in the blogosphere, too. I plan to start a new blog, when the new projects begin, when I settle into the patterns of a new life...but for right now, I have chosen just to point out some great things about the city that I will be leaving in 11 days. 11 days!

I realized today that I arrived here one year ago tomorrow. It seems fitting to end the blog tomorrow, somehow. New projects on the horizon!

Can't Run But - Paul Simon

What are the great things about Philly? Those of you who have read, loyally, over the last year, may wonder whether there are good things about Philly! I apologize for my negativity this year. Honestly, at this point, now that I am staring at the end point, I believe that Philly was the best thing that ever happened to me. It shook me out of my comfort zone, challenged me, but mostly, made me face parts of myself I had always wanted to avoid. After that long and difficult process, I ended up in a much better place than I had been in, maybe, fifteen years.

So. Good things!!!

1. Reading Terminal Market. If you haven't been, you should. I just had dumplings from Reading Terminal last weekend for the first time, and they were delicious! There are lots of amazing things there, including organic produce, Amish ladies who make sandwiches in lightning speed, really sweet guys who sell you slices of pizza, and of course, delicious ice cream.

2. Pilates classes with Timeree at Sweat Gym....she makes the monthly fee worth it. Seriously, my body has not looked this good in, well, probably forever. She is also funny and integrates imaginary baby animals into her class routines.

3. The trees along 5th street, between Pine and Market. I drive along 5th every day, well, I used to, until I moved out last week. Over the last year, I have watched these trees that shade the old buildings of the historical parts of Philly change colors vividly as the seasons change. I have seen them green, yellow, red, orange, naked and then budding green again.

4. Bicycling through the city. If you remember, I got in a bad bike wreck when I first moved here. I was terrified of trolley tracks for months, but now I love bicycling in this nutty place. I love negotiating with cars, speeding along streets, blowing through stop signs....all of it.

5. Pizza. Seriously, y'all....Philly knows pizza and knows it well. I eat pizza ALL the time here, and will miss it like crazy when I am gone. I think I am going to have to start making pizza all the time because I will miss it so much. Whether it's Lorenzo's late at night, Gianfranco's during the day, Wolf Street Pizza when you are hanging out with your roommate watching Netflix, the pizza in Philly is great. My favorite combination? Eggplant and broccoli rabe. Try it....

I Wanna Be Adored - The Stone Roses

More to come.....

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adios, slanted house....

Not Too Late - Norah Jones 
(Norah Jones will always remind me of Anna, in the office at Sterling Quest....)

There is a story is late at night, in steamy early summer in Philadelphia. A girl sits at her computer, in a stuffy room that she has lived in and out of for many months. The walls are tan, and are crooked. The whole house slants. 

She filled it with a second hand leather couch, an old trunk of a friend's, two bookcases she bought with her first paycheck after college, a comfortable bed, an old sewing machine. She hung art on the walls, the slanted walls, put curtains in the windows. She taped ephemera to the walls, and wrote poems inside blank cards and pinned them up all over the house. She went to work. She planted plastic tubs in the front with flowers. She cooked meals in the kitchen, and wrapped the drab island in red oilcloth, and hung Mexican flags around on the windows and on the voodoo doll she got three years ago. She lived here with one of her best friends, and then she lived here more alone than before.

She wrote journal entries, and played Scrabble in earnest. She loved science and tried to communicate that to students who struggled. She baked sugar cookies, and drank cocktails, and learned to get to know new people and a new city. She took long, long walks and ended up with blisters on her heels. She discovered the beautiful parts of the city that maybe, she would have missed. She listened to music on her headphones, and learned to walk quickly but still appreciate the murals and the mosaics. She spent lots of time alone, and realized that although she didn't want to be alone for a long time, that being alone was just fine for the time being.

She lost a lot, but gained priceless things. She ate pancakes on Sunday morning with a little whiskey in her coffee. She read National Geographics, and books by Larry McMurtry, and pined for Texas even though she didn't want to go back. She went to the Melrose Diner when she had no coffee in the kitchen. She bought a ticket to Mexico when someone at work pointed out it had been too long (four years). She quit her job. She went to Mexico and had six amazing days that led to something truly wonderful. She came back to Philadelphia, sold everything she owned but the things she really loved.

 It is true, you have to be house proud. I will miss this house. Saying goodbye to the Rosewood house tonight.....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Simple Truth

"For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."
- Carl Sagan

Tonight, I packed my last box. I have whittled an entire houseful of stuff down into twelve boxes and what will fit in the backseat and trunk of my car. I feel very excited: like I am floating. It is an amazing feeling to get rid of so much junk....slash and burn indeed!

Whilst packing that last box, I found something that I hadn't looked at in many years. It is a long poem, written in red ink on yellow legal pad paper. It was left on my doorstep by a high school friend many years ago, when I lived in the house in which I spent most of my college time: 1414 East 37th Street in Austin. I love that house: still do, even though it is renovated and looks very different today than it did in 2003 when I moved out. 

Here is the poem, although sadly, it loses something not being written in red ink on yellow legal pad paper.

"The Simple Truth" by Philip Levine

I bought a dollar and a half's worth of small red potatoes, took them home, boiled them in their jackets and ate them for dinner with a little butter and salt. Then I walked through the dried fields on the edge of town. In middle June, the light hung on in the dark furrows at my feet, and in the mountain oaks overhead, the birds were gathering for the night, the jays and mockers squawking back and forth, the finches still darting into the dusty light. The woman who sold me the potatoes was from Poland; she was someone out of my childhood in a pink spangled sweater and sunglasses praising the perfection of all her fruits and vegetables at the road-side stand and urging me to taste even the pale, raw sweet corn trucked all the way, she swore, from New Jersey. "Eat, eat," she said, "Even if you don't, I'll say you did."

Some things you know all your life. They are so simple and true they must be said without elegance, meter and rhyme, they must be laid on the table beside the salt shaker, the glass of water, the absence of light gathering in the shadows of picture frames, they must be naked and alone, they must stand for themselves.

My friend Henri and I arrived at this together in 1965 before I went away, before he began to kill himself, and the two of us to betray our love. Can you taste what I'm saying? It is onions or potatoes, a pinch of simple salt, the wealth of melting butter, it is obvious, it stays in the back of your throat like a truth you never uttered because the time was always wrong, it stays there for the rest of your life, unspoken, made of that dirt we call earth, the metal we call salt, in a form we have no words for, and you live on it.

{more information on Philip Levine can be found here}

19, 18, 17 Days

This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) - The Talking Heads

So...somehow I have gotten mixed up on my countdown here versus my countdown on my calendar. I think Memorial Day messed me up, or something. Anyway, after today there will be 16 days left....and out of those days, 7 are half days. My school is a strong believer in half days: it is one of our fundamental sources of contention, as I do not believe in half days, even though they are easier for me. 

Every Wednesday, we have a half day to build in professional development time for teachers, but, at least for us in middle school, this turns into a mostly wasted day of "electives" and advisory. I often wonder how much more they would learn if they were in school 5 days a week instead of 4. But, I digress....

1. Yesterday, I subbed for the art teacher at my school and taught 6th grade art for 45 minutes. They are learning how to weave: an activity that I really love. I turned on Allison Krauss & Union Station, and we listened to bluegrass and wove tapestries. They didn't complain about the music! They all worked on their tapestries! Outside it was rainy and cool.
2. Another day of making space stations really shows how each student is an individual, that creativity is universal and yet unpredictable, and that if you give any child the ability to create something out of a pile of seemingly random objects, it will fundamentally change they way they think about how things are made.
3. Skype - I am very thankful for Skype right now. 
4. The slow emptying of the Rosewood house: sharing my objects with others who are happy to receive them.
5. Still being able to break up fights with remarkable ease....turns out, it's like riding a bike!