Monday, May 26, 2008

Things to do in New York

I ended up in New York for a week, dog-sitting for some close friends of mine. It was a fun week, filled with meetings with old friends, one trip to the movies, and over the weekend, my parents came and stayed with me.

The highlight of the week had to have been our evening spent milling about under the Brooklyn Bridge. We enjoyed delicious worth-the-wait Grimaldi's pizza, and admired the picturesque 125 year-old bridge by daylight.

Down on Old Fulton Street, we discovered this telescope thing-y that allows one to communicate with people in London standing under the Tower Bridge. It's absolutely amazing, seemingly straight out of a Victorian novel about a mad-scientist. It is the brain child of artist, Paul St George, and connects in a novel way the cities of New York and London. Stand under the bridge and wave to British passersby, who in turn, wave back or write messages via white board. It has its charm, and is a must-see for anyone visiting New York this time of year (only through June 15th).

We strolled along the Promenade, and made pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge light display that was going on this weekend in honor of its 125th birthday. The bridge would alternate colors, between blues and purple, to yellow and green. Behind it stood the Empire State Building, aglow in patriotic red, white, and blue. To the west was the southern tip of Manhattan-- all which made for picture-perfect snapshots.

I went to see the film, The Fall, which I found to be interesting and quite curious. I had no idea what the film was to be about, having just the recommendation of a friend. It is quite filled with fantasy, but what charmed me most were the main actors and the scenery. The little girl, who I've never seen before (apparently it's her first film), was cute as a button, and quite a scene stealer, but Justine Waddell and Lee Pace are old favorites of mine. Justine starred in the BBC miniseries, Wives and Daughters, as the incomparable Molly Gibson, and Lee Pace was in the Amelie-esque tv series, Pushing Daisies (view episodes online here).

Some of the movie was shot in India, which of course caught my attention. I've traveled there twice, staying for a total of three months, and I have fallen completely in love with that country. Anyone watching the movie will be able to easily see its charm. Seeing Udaipur, the city known for its Palace on the Lake, and Jodhpur, also known at the Blue City, with its giant fort overlooking the "cubist" city below, immediately called forth pleasant memories. Just as I want to share Santorini, Greece with my friends, so do I desire them to witness the beauty and mystery of India. This movie is a great place to start, and anyone with eyes to see will feel a desire to travel to that magnificent country.

Also, before I sign off, I have to post a link to this pamphlet I found on another blog. The author made this pamphlet (hand-drawn and lettered-- click on link within blog for individual pamphlets) for a girl who was moving to the city with a cat and dog in tow. He illustrates for the incoming pets what to expect in the city-- from poop-scooping to apartment living. It's really cute, and smart, and funny-- the perfect intro for any new pet in the city.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Endless Frustration

I have spent the last few hours trying to figure out how to set up an email subscription service to my blog.  I originally used Feedburner, but after a few days, it seemed obvious to me that it wasn't working.  Then, I made the switch to Feedblitz.  That one is also not working.  What is making things more problematic is that I want to add an email subscription to a private blog that I've started with my girlfriends, and I just don't seem to have any luck.  Using blogger's help page bears little fruit (and seems to be an issue they should clear up), and I've just sent an email to support at Feedblitz, so we'll see what we get back in return.  Until I get this set up, you'll just have to keep coming back to this blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Working it out

I find that I really enjoy hitting that "Next Blog" button at the top of the screen. It's a bit of a roulette, with me hitting lots of really terrible blogs (either just plain awful, misspelled, visually unappealing, (editor's note-- the visually unappealing example has been changed, much for the better, I might add.  Now I'll have to find a new example) or in a REALLY foreign language. And by really foreign, I mean that it bears no resemblance whatsoever to languages that I have acquainted myself with.)

I click through for hours, which is a bit ridiculous. Giving credence to the idea that a blog can be interesting even if I have no idea what they're writing about is this blog that I stumbled upon. I find their pictures (just scroll on down) to be intriguing and beautiful.

This girl looks cute, and when I have more time I'd like to delve into her blog a bit.

I've also been playing with blogger, trying to figure out how to customize it a bit. I did figure out how to post a blog link on the page, and created my first blog via email. I'm working on starting up an email subscription list, but am still working out kinks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Love hurts... If only we could have a spotless mind

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.

~Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard

I am currently reading a biography of Eleanor of Aquitaine, by Alison Weir. I've often heard of her, and have even seen the academy award-winning Katherine Hepburn/ Peter O'Toole film, The Lion in Winter, but somehow my knowledge of who she is in history is pretty hazy.

I haven't made it very far in the book, but I did stumble upon a fellow named Peter Abelard, who Eleanor would have witnessed debating his contemporary, Bernard, in the 1100s.

I make mention of Abelard because he is a famous lover, and as a romantic, I take note of and remember famous lovers of history. He was very learned and famous in his time, and had the misfortune to fall in love with one of his students, the lovely Heloise. They secretly married, and produced a child, but when her uncle found out, he decided to have revenge. He and a few others broke into Abelard's house, and castrated the poor fellow. Obviously, Abelard could no longer perform the duties of marriage (nor, I imagine, feel much passion for his young wife), so she became a nun, and he devoted himself to learning and theology and himself became a monk.
Apparently, the two did correspond in later years, writing both of their love, and of shared philosophical interests. At some point, he denied that he ever loved her, pointing out that he had beaten her and forced her to have sex with him. He reduced any feelings that he had ever had or her as springing completely from lust.

If what he writes in true-- that it was only lust which prompted his passion, then perhaps I don't feel as sorry for him in his castration. On the other hand, I would expect an old man who had been rendered sexless because of his dalliance with a young woman, to be bitter when he looked back upon it. The story sounds much better as a result of ill-fated love, rather then some medieval John Bobbitt story.

I think of Heloise, who was so beautiful and clever, giving up her life to don a habit and enter the nunnery. How infuriating it is for him to write to her late in life and tell her that he never loved her. Ahhh, men!

Anyhoo, the above excerpt is from an Alexander Pope poem. It contains the now-famous "eternal sunshine of the spotless mind" quote, which, in context, refers to Heloise wishing she could forget. I have felt, and indeed, feel the same way myself. Here's to love...

Also, supposedly they're buried together in my favorite cemetery: Pere Lachaise. It's in Paris, and definitely worth the trip if you're ever in town. It's a bit of a hike to get there, but well worth it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lagging behind

I feel like my life is a bit of a mess lately-- my room is a disaster, that somehow seems to be creeping into the hall and the bathroom as well.  In addition, I've now been at my parent's house for two+ months and I've yet to finish unpacking my boxes.  I also haven't figured out what I'm doing with my life.

On the other hand, I have been going regularly to a physical therapist to get my knee back on track from pain that I have in my Iliotibial band.  I feel stronger already, now realize that I LOVE massages (I fell in a deep crush on my therapist that first day he massaged my knee and leg.  Since then, I've learned to distinguish my feelings and now think that my crush is really only directed to those magnificent hands of his), and can feel the pain decreasing.  I've also been actively helping around the house, i.e., giving my brother rides to the University and work so that his own pained knee can heal, cooking dinner each night, and mowing the lawn,

I think when I began this blog, I was a little overzealous, or perhaps, overly ambitious.  I did note early on that I don't really finish what I start, so it is no wonder that I'm not so great about updating this blog very often.  I am also a bit of a perfectionist, so I don't want to write unless I feel I have something interesting or brilliant to say.  In the future, I'll try to just post, rather than waiting for inspiration to strike. 

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Poetry?

Come live with me, and be my love;
And we will all the pleasures prove
That hills and valleys, dales and fields,
Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers, to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies;
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull
Fair-lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber-studs;
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherd-swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May-morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

~Christopher Marlowe, The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, before 1593

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

Time drives the flock from field to fold,
When rivers rage, and rocks grow cold;
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of years to come.

The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields:
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.

The gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,--
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.

Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth still last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.

~Sir Walter Raleigh, The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd, before 1599

I suppose quite early in the writing of this blog, the thought occurred to me that it might be nice to lead off with quotes from literature (and possibly song).  I've taken a bit of the easy route by using mostly poems.  Part of me thinks that this is not all bad; poems seem to have fallen out of favor (as have books) in the modern popular consciousness.  Do lovers still write poems to woo their beloved?  Are we able to call certain lines to memory at appropriate moments?  Are we even able to talk intelligently of these men (and women) of such great wit and feeling?

And so, I am happy to reintroduce some poetry into our own humdrum existences.  The above two poems were first read by me in the eleventh grade.  I was a romantic, naive to the world, and enamored by Marlowe's proposal.  I did not appreciate the sense that Raleigh makes in his reply.  I included the above poems because, when I read Rupert Brook's Menelaus and Helen, reprinted here in my post of 23 April 2008, I was immediately reminded of the Shepherd/Nymph poems.  I wonder if Marlowe's and Raleigh's poems were in the back of Brooks' mind when he wrote his own?

I like all of these poems; I am attracted to the realism of one, and the romanticism of the other. How time and experience has changed my feelings, and how now I see a different world from the one I viewed at 17.  I still dream of romance, but have come to expect the realities of day-to-day life.  However, I hope that I still hold onto those dreams, and take as a good sign my affinity for poetry, which surely elevates one above the mundane.

In the future, however, I shall try to introduce some of my favorite fiction and non-fiction works in addition to the poetry.  Indeed, I identify with many of these immortal characters and their lives resonate with my soul.  I shall endeavor to share them with you.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The crowning of a Queen or How one girl got her wings

So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,
To-morrow 'ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;
To-morrow 'ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother, I'm to be Queen o' the May.

~Alfred Lord Tennyson, excerpt from The May Queen

The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds.  For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.

~Sir Thomas Malory, excerpt from Le Morte d'Arthur, 1485

Now the bright morning-star, Day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.
Hale, bounteous May, that doth inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!
Woods and groves are of thy dressing;
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with out early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

~John Milton, Song on a May Morning, 1660

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of night.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, The Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

The first of May is a day known in some parts of the world as May Day.  It has its tie to pre-Christian Europe and was a time to celebrate the beginning of summer.  A May Queen was crowned, normally a young girl dressed in white to symbolize purity, and tradition held that they would dance around a Maypole.  You can read more about these traditions here at Wikipedia, and here on a web page devoted to celebrating May Day.

I was once crowned the Queen of May.  It was when I was a young maiden of about fifteen or sixteen, and a lovely fellow crowned me under an arbor of cherry blossoms as the ruler of May.  It was for one glorious month that ruled over such a short span of time, but I have claimed the right to make this month mine ever since.  That season when I was young and fresh has passed, but I am reminded of past and future glory every year on May 1st.  I am crowned Queen, and with the aid of the faeries, I benevolently reign, calling forth the Spring, and looking forward to an eternal Spring.  May is indeed a time of love and remembrances, and a time when the earth bursts forth in song.

This day has passed rather uneventfully, nursing a sick mom, and spending time with my sister and the four puppies.  I have felt ill today, but am not saddened as I have the rest of May to look forward.  Erin and I baked cupcakes as a means of celebrating, of which I will post pictures tomorrow.  There shall be a day when, God willing, I will receive flowers on this the first of May.  And perhaps one day, I will be able to wear a dress such as this:

These dresses and more are all from this site, Vintage Textile.