Monthly Archives: August 2011

shelter from the storm

So New York is getting a hurricane … the last big hurricane to hit Long Island in my memory was Hurricane Gloria, in 1985.

I was 12 years old then, and I remember being fascinated by the effects of the hurricane; all of a sudden we had to contend with nature in all of her wrathful glory. And people were in a panic.

During the eye of the hurricane, I went out into the backyard, to my secret spot by the side of the house. Broken branches and debris were everywhere, but nothing had seriously devestated the area. What I remember most of all was the light, the quiet of that still center, and the feeling that the very air was infused with energy, especially as the calm began to lift, giving way to tempestuous wind and sheets of rain.

I remember that the weekend after Hurricane Gloria, I was in church …

We did not go to church much; I went to catholic school and my parents felt that my religious education was provided for; nevertheless, once a month my school held a liturgy for each grade, and my sister and I dutifully went with our father while my mother stayed home, making sunday dinner.

I was prone to distraction during church. The rituals of the service made little sense to me, as I watched them being carried out dogmatically and with hardly any passion. I recall that I did, however, long to taste the wine. I made up elaborate stories in my head. I watched boys out of the corner of my eye, and discovered a way of ripping paper and gum wrappers into small sculptures of flowers and animals.

I always listened though when it was time to hear stories from the bible. I was also interested in the homily, when the priests would tell their own stories in the form of sermons. Most of the time, the stories would drone on, falling over the congregation, escaping my grasp. Every once in a while, thankfully, a priest would really try to reach people at that moment, to touch and engage their hearts and spirits.

So, I was in church, listening to the priest’s sermon, and he was talking about the hurricane – his homily centered on the experience of his family over the previous weekend – it so happened that his sister’s wedding was planned to take place on the day the hurricane hit.

He said that his sister had planned a huge wedding; hundreds of people were invited to celebrate the event. A hall was rented; all the requisite plans were made … flowers and dresses and limos, rings and tuxedos. And the day of the wedding, everything closed in the face of Hurricane Gloria.

The electricity was out. No one could really travel, and only immediate family were able to get to the ceremony. The rented hall was closed, as was pretty much everything else. They didn’t even have access to the diamond rings they had painstakingly picked out. They were wearing regular, everyday clothes.

And yet … and yet, they carried out the ceremony. I still remember listening to the priest describe how he watched his brother-in-law catch his breath, as his sister walked down the aisle, in the eye of the hurricane, sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows, the candles on the altar afire.

They were stripped bare, left with what is most essential. Life. Love. Family. Such blessings are these gifts, and yet we forget how much these bonds matter, how important and necessary they are to our lives.

We can try to save our material possessions, to plan as much as possible in the face of the coming storms … but in our lives, it is the people we love, and who love us in return, who really shelter and ground us, who root us in our experiences, nourish our hopes, and help us to live fully in the present, as we cast our sacred dreams among the stars.


lipshtick

Lipshtick is an ambitious play, taking the audience on a funny, poignant, and complex journey through what it meant to be a woman in 20th century America amidst a media blitzkrieg mirroring society’s perceptions, ideals, and images, while seeking to expose how women internalize and externalize these expectations as they struggle towards a sense of self and continue to define the realities and experiences of being female in American society in the present…”

Read the rest of my review at The Happiest Medium!

Lipshtick
Written by Romy Nordlinger and Adam Burns
Directed by Bricken Sparacino
Video Design by Adam Burns
Featuring Scout Durwood, Aja Houston, Romy Nordlinger

New York International Fringe Festival 2011.


tale of the hourglass

The late sun threw jagged light across Ash’s face. She stirred slightly and felt someone next to her in bed. Fragile wisps of dyed black hair fell across broad shoulders, but his face was turned away. Ash’s gaze lingered, and she traced her finger above the intricate patterns on his back. The colours and symbols mapped pieces of his life, a journey which had only just begun.

She took a deep breath and followed the light across the room, where it settled on the top shelf of her armoire, hitting the center of the hourglass with amazing accuracy, the reddish tinted sands of time bursting as if on fire. Ash watched the hourglass intently; the bottom portion was nearly full, the top portion waning. She felt the irresistible urge to run across the room and turn the hourglass upon its head, though she knew it would not move for her…

I’m really excited about this story and recently submitted it for publication! Wish me Luck!!! xo


eros and psyche

1.

The Myth of Eros and Psyche

The myth of Psyche and Eros is probably one of the most beautiful Greek myths; it has been told and retold in several different versions and it has inspired artists all over the world.

Psyche was a woman gifted with extreme beauty and grace, one of the mortal women whose love and sacrifice for her beloved God Eros earned her immortality.

Psyche became, as Greek word “psyche” implies, the deity of soul. To modern days, the myth of Psyche symbolizes a self-search and personal growth through learning, losing, and saving the real love.

Living her ordinary life, Psyche became famous because of her beauty that the whole world rushed to see.

Being jealous due to men’s admiration for Psyche, Goddess Aphrodite asked her son, the powerful master of love, Eros, to poison men’s souls in order to kill off their desire for Psyche. But Eros also fell in love with Psyche and was completely mesmerized by her beauty.

Despite all the men coming her way, Psyche stayed unmarried, but she wanted to marry the man she would love. Her parents became so desperate because of their daughter’s destiny and had no choice but to ask for an oracle, hoping that they would manage to solve the mystery and give a husband to their daughter.

Eros guided Apollo to give the oracle that Psyche would marry an ugly beast whose face she would never be able to see, and he would wait for her at the top of the mountain.

It was not what Psyche’s parents were hoping for; on the contrary, they were completely devastated, as their daughter was not supposed to have such as fate, but they decided to go on and arranged the wedding of their beloved daughter with the beast.

After the wedding, Psyche was able to be with her husband only at night. His tenderness and the enormous love he showed to her made Psyche happy and fulfilled beyond her expectations and dreams. She talked about her happiness with her sisters and confined in them how sad she was she couldn’t see his face.

Hence, the jealous sisters persuaded Psyche that her lover is not only an ugly beast but also a monster who would eventually kill her, so she should kill him first to save herself.

With the oil lamp and knife in her hands, Psyche one night was ready for murder, but when she enlightened the face of her beast-husband she saw the beautiful God Eros. Caught by surprise, she spilled the oil on his face. Eros woke up and flew away telling Psyche that she betrayed him and ruined their relationship so that they could never be united again.

Psyche started searching for her lost love, and finally was suggested to beg Aphrodite, who imprisoned Eros in the Palace, to see him. Aphrodite gave her three impossible tasks to accomplish in order to prove her love.

Driven by her desire to reunite with Eros, she was fearless. After accomplishing the first two tasks, Psyche had to go to the Hades (Underworld) and bring the box with the elixir of beauty to Aphrodite, who ordered her not to open the box. Instead of the elixir, there was Morpheus (the god of sleep and dreams) hiding in the box and since the curious Psyche opened it, she fell asleep.

Eros found out what happened, run away from the Palace, and begged Zeus to save his Psyche. Amazed by their love, Zeus went even further – he made Psyche immortal so that two lovers could be together forever.

View this website for the full text of the Eros and Psyche myth, and for wonderful versions of other greek myths.

<2.

Psyche and Eros, revisited by Veronica Verai

Psyche was a Greek princess who was so beautiful that Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, grew jealous of her. The goddess sent her son, the winged god of love Eros, to strike the young princess with one of his arrows, making her fall unhappily in love. But when Eros saw Psyche, he fell in love with her himself and could not obey his mother.

As a gentle breeze he lifted Psyche and carried her to a secluded palace. Eros would come to his beloved every night, after dark; he was very kind and loving and she soon returned his feelings, although she was never allowed to see her lover. The god warned her that he would have to leave her for ever if she sees his face.

Later on, Psyche’s sisters came to visit and convinced her that she must see her lover, as he might turn out to be a dangerous monster. So Psyche saw Eros’ face by the light of a candle, while he was sleeping, and discovered that he was not the monster she feared but a magnificent god. After that Eros left her and she was very unhappy.

Desperate to bring him back, Psyche went to Aphrodite to ask for her help, but the goddess remained indifferent to her suffering and gave her impossible tasks to fulfil. However, Psyche succeeded in all of them, as Eros was secretly watching over her and helping her. In the end, Zeus decided that the lovers proved their devotion for each other and united them for eternity, granting Psyche immortality. They lived happily ever after and a beautiful child was born to them, whose name was Voluptas (Pleasure).

This is an alegorical tale with many levels of meaning. It is about the union between Eros (masculine principle, erotic passion) and Psyche (feminine principle, the soul), that at the end engenders bliss.

There is also a lot of truth about relationships in it. While they love each other and defend their love, Eros and Psyche grow and develop, becoming more forgiving (Eros), and stronger (Psyche). Thus, through their relationship they overcome their own weaknesses, evolving into better and complete personalities.

Although Greeks emphasised physical beauty, as a symbol and quintessence of all virtue, the story shows that true love goes beyond the superficiality of physical attraction (Psyche falls in love with Eros without seeing him). Love requires trust (Psyche is forbidden to see Eros) and once the trust is broken it is difficult to get it back.

In relationships, one should not let other people interfere (such as Psyche’s sisters) but make one’s own decisions. Where there is love, there is forgiveness also (Eros is still watching over Psyche, after she disobeyed him). Joint effort can create strength to solve even insurmountable problems (the impossible tasks set by Aphrodite).

To Greeks, romantic love was the single most important ingredient of human happiness. In their view, true love should be rewarded, so at the end of the story the union of Eros and Psyche is blessed and protected by the gods for eternity.

3.

Images

1. Photograph by Ed Snyder, copy of the famous Antonio Canova sculpture “Eros and Psyche”, atop a tomb at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California.

2. Photograph by Himadhu Kottege, Cardova’s “Eros and Psyche” at Musee du Louvre

3. Sculpture by Antonio Canova, “Eros and Psyche”. 1793


love

The heart breaks and breaks and lives by breaking. It is necessary to go through dark and deeper dark and not to turn. ~ Stanley Kunitz

Today I want to share a poem I wrote many years ago, about a year after I moved in with the young man who would become my children’s father, who would later lose himself in shattered dreams so completely that he would never be found again. I’m thinking about what I’ve learned, what more there is to learn, wondering how we continue to put our trust in another person’s fragile hands, so willingly, so hungrily – we love. We give ourselves over to something that is as beautiful as it is devestating, thinking perhaps this time we can get it right.

Beginning

The day we took an axe to the wall
we were young, and it was
complicated

We took turns swinging
we were laughing and kissing
until we put the tool aside
and began tearing it apart,
grabbing pieces of sheetrock
with our hands

Then we brought in
my mattress and his amp
papers and notebooks and pens
his electric, my acoustic
magazines and books

It was only us then
and the mornings were grey
we slept in each other’s dreams
until mid-afternoon
and began learning what it meant
to love.