On needing to be touched

•August 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment
Walking home through the park yesterday, I met an old woman visiting from Nantucket. We sat on a bench and watched the twilight and I let her talk. She kept reaching over to stroke my arm. I’ve been meaning to write about touch.  We all need it.  Babies in orphanages die without it–takes about six weeks, and touch deprivation is used as legal euthanasia. Redwood trees link roots with their neighbors (and die when those neighbors are cut down). People love small children, and pets. Tango is all about the quality of the embrace.  Touch enables us to connect wordlessly.  I believe it’s how our cells communicate: blood and lymph and tiny electrical pulses act as messengers spanning our cellular gaps. The universe is a holograph of entities communicating through energy, of which touch is the most direct. I’ve been re-viewing human behavior lately through this lens.  During some recent storms and hurricanes, when the subways weren’t running and people were piling onto buses, I saw many instances of seemingly odd human behavior that make touch-sense. A very homely, grouchy woman, for example, who insisted on standing in the middle of the aisle and forcing people to squeeze by her. Possibly  a way of receiving human touch?  Petting other people’s dogs makes me feel better, the owners don’t mind, and the dogs love it.  Everyone needs touch in some form, whether from people or the sun. Here at summer’s end, I feel replete and sensate with touch, like supplies stored ahead of  winter.  



Super-smooth n simple cantaloupe/avocado/basil smoothie

•August 13, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Continue reading ‘Super-smooth n simple cantaloupe/avocado/basil smoothie’

Failure is a boon companion

•July 19, 2013 • 1 Comment
“Failure. …Bereft of any honest and spiritually potent place to go with our failures and wrestle them to some kind of peace, we early on master the craft of costuming them in deft rationalizations, so that they look like other things–accidents, acts of God, other people’s faults. And then we start learning to lug them along with us, like silent lead.
The full scope of God’s presence is revealed as we fail because God lives at the very heart of failure–in the failing of Christ, the death, the shame, the mockery and, now, the trivialization and the bigotry–and in the failing of Buddha, and Mohammed, and Confucius, and Moses and all the rest, to staunch the flow of hatred and dispel the clouds of arrogance yet. God has not failed. But God lives with us in the place we have built for God. SOmetimes God sits there beside us, each of us with our head in our hands.
But when, with courage and in good company, we open our eyes from the heart of failure, or from a little rise in the road overlooking its memory, there are three redemptive things to see.
One is our limitedness: the boundaries of finitude around us, and thus the grace of freedom to be who we can be within them, without our ever having to be everything.
Another is our interdependence: the fact that we can hold this experience in common as potential companions, and thus the grace to be, together, what none of us can entirely be alone.
And a third is the forgiveness that surrounds and, in time, empowers: the forgiveness of others, the forgiveness of God, and finally the priceless grace to forgive yourself.
After a failure breaks out of its festering, silent cocoon into all the grace of those three dimensions–the grace of limits, of companionship and of forgiveness–only one question remains: What to do with the dried husk of its memory? And I think the answer is clear. There is only one place to take what we cannot find any other safe place for. There is only one love strong and constant enough to defuse any ticking despair. There is only one voice clear enough to speak through the storm.
Let it be an offering.  Give it away. It will not be your most beautiful gift, surely, nor your easiest to let go of, either. But place it in the hands of another–place it in the safe hands of that God that you find in another, and let go. And all will be possible again. The road winds on through the woods. “
—Rev. Richard E. Spaulding, Oct. 4, 1990
from A BOOK OF MEDITATIONS: Readings from Phillips Exeter Academy, 1983-1994
1972 graduate of the academy, at the printing of this book Co-Pastor of the Church of the Covenant in Boston and also Presbyterian Chaplain at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges

Art by its Nature

•May 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Been thinking about this lately, and what do you know, have been encountering its various aspects, one after another.  I feel like Rilke’s character in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Briggs.

What is it, exactly, about art and the creative act?  It’s an authentic impulse that demands expression.  It’s its own master.  It doesn’t care if it’s a tree whose silent fall in a forest is heard by nobody (though of course it would prefer an audience). It doesn’t look sideways and doesn’t require validation.  It is its own raison d’etre.  Needless to say, it’s not about making a buck.

It is a graceful vessel for tradition.  It is compelled to explore the margins of being, of existence, and gives us a way to wonder what exactly is this experience called life.  It sees beauty in beauty–and beauty also in a ragged or bleeding edge.  It is graceful but unafraid to lurch, to dwell with fear and with the unknown.

Art is a container for the ephemeral.

Life is ephemeral.  And life is thus beautiful, and life is thus art.

All these weeks of thinking and these few lines, just so.

Tango Dancing in the Fervid Night

•March 2, 2013 • Leave a Comment

People say dancing–all dancing–is like sex, but I think it’s closer to creation. One has to have the energy, first of all, and the need to burn off the past and create a future in its ashes.  Yeah, that’s about right.  It’s been a long hard week atop a stack of weeks. Is the moon full? Without looking, I suspect yes. A stretchy lace top and, over winter leggings, a black skirt cut short in front and rippling long at the back with a sassy pleather bow I like to tie low so it can flick  like a tail. Coat and hat and scarf and, oh yes, don’t forget the red stilettos, then it’s into the winter on a whim and a whisper that yes, it’s about time to get some dancing in.

The studio is warm and welcoming, lights laid low, female laughter lilting high above the music, male voices interjecting below. It’s good to be remembered and welcomed back, no questions asked, just enjoying the moment by moment.

We flaunt our bodies for many reasons, but first and foremost because we’ve earned that right: our form is good and we are present and aware.  It took me years to find my style within the confines of form. I sit on the sidelines a while and listen to the music, let it seep in.  It’s been months, yes, but not much has changed.  This winter’s been long and people look careworn, but here their eyes shine. Some spaces are sacred, and here is our place for rejuvenation. So much sensation. And with it, emotion.  I’ve seen entire lives and relationships played out on the dance floor. Is the moon full? I don’t look out the windows, because it doesn’t really matter.  It’s winter still, but spring is in the air, and we are hungry for relief.

To partner-dance well requires musicality and discipline and above all the desire to share with one’s partner. The music, the dance, the endlessly improvised steps, both formal and embellished. Only within them, within the stately measures of each tanda, each set of songs, are explored the exquisite ranges of emotion set off by another’s skin and breath.  We greet each other and dance together and set ourselves free. Sweat rises to surface and makes us flushed and fervent. Fervid.

It’s not like episodic sex; it’s more meaningful than that. My partners are numerous and transient, but each plays a meaningful part, moment by moment. In dancing, we embrace lust and love and joy and sadness and yearning–all the things that make us human. Creation and creativity in ceaseless motion. Our birthright. Another winter, another spring, another evening in the season of our lives.

It’s good to dance again, now that I’m no longer compelled by it. It’s time, then, to let loose the next book. You see, it’s a novel about dance, and I’ve been dancing with the writing of it for quite some time.

Fantastico panel on social media for writers

•February 26, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Fantastico panel on social media for writers

This one had it all: depth, breadth, deep wisdom and practical hands-on. Enjoy. 

“Radiation” audio (click to listen)

•January 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

“Radiation” audio (click to listen)

Short story of how books changed a Japanese woman, her family, her culture–and history. “…everything she could have written she dipped into the inkwell of memory. Books were burned, and the family genealogy, and anything that might single them out more than they had…” 


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