Wednesday, December 26, 2012

As Plain As I Beheld It Then

I posted this poem last Christmas, but I like it very much, so I'm reposting it again this year:

“It’s queer,” she said; “I see the light
As plain as I beheld it then,
All silver-like and calm and bright-
We’ve not had stars like that again!

“And she was such a gentle thing
To birth a baby in the cold.
The barn was dark and frightening-
This new one’s better than the old.

“I mind my eyes were full of tears,
For I was young, and quick distressed,
But she was less than me in years
That held a son against her breast.

“I never saw a sweeter child-
The little one, the darling one!-
I mind I told her, when he smiled
You’d know he was his mother’s son.

“It’s queer that I should see them so-
The time they came to Bethlehem
Was more than thirty years ago;
I’ve prayed that all is well with them.”

~Dorothy Parker, The Maid-Servant at the Inn

I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas.  I had hoped to write some of my thoughts, but I'm tired and ready for bed.  I do hope your holidays have been special, and I hope you've had time to stop and reflect on Jesus, whose birthday we celebrate today.

M E R R Y  C H R I S T M A S !

Friday, December 14, 2012

May We Suggest?

I thought these little "scrapbooks" of what to wear when traveling were too cute.  Via Anthropologie.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Blade of Grass

"There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice." 

~John Calvin

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ludwig van Beethoven, hubba hubba

This is really fun for me.  Somehow word got out at the community orchestra I play with that I like to dabble in graphic design (okay, so I probably said some not-so-nice things about previous attempts at fliers which were thrown together in Word for heaven sakes!  After my complaining, they told me to put my money where my mouth is).  So far, I've designed the last three concert "posters" for our group (including the one for the chamber concert from the last post), and a few ads that have run in the local paper.  I'm a big believer in presentation-- I remember years ago hearing one friend tell another, "Listen, tell people you're amazing, and they'll believe it."  I think that's really true, and as far as our orchestra is concerned, I thought it needed more polishing done in the presentation department.  We are, after all, a community orchestra that goes after the professional orchestra crowd.  We needed to send the message that we're contenders.

That said, as a non-profit with major expenses, we need to rely on local talent, so to speak.  And so, I got my day in the limelight.  I'm having so much fun designing these-- sitting down in front of my computer for a few hours with the help of Photoshop Elements (and my newly downloaded vector graphics editing software, Inkscape).  I sometimes feel limited by my tools-- I learned Photoshop and Illustrator in college-- but overall, I'm happy to be able to flex my creative muscles a bit.  It's so much fun to play!

In other news, in case you didn't notice, we have another concert coming up.  Hurricane Sandy and other events (aka life) happening mean that I've missed more than a few rehearsals, but I think I'm going to try and play this concert.  I mean, it's not every day that gal gets a chance to perform Beethoven, right?  He's definitely a man to get my little classical-music-loving heart beating. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Warlock and Handel and Haydn, oh my!

It's concert time again!  This time I'm playing in a chamber orchestra (there's only six violins! plus the other instruments) and the setting is in a small church in the heart of my town.  So far, I've only played with our larger symphony, so this time will be really special for me.  Usually we play in a large auditorium to a 500-person audience, but this time it'll be for the enjoyment of just the lucky few.  I'm a little nervous because I can't hide in the back of the string section as I am wont to do, but honored that I was included in this group.

If you're in Delaware and feel like a little chamber music, by all means, get thee to our concert.  Handel's Organ Concerto is a lovely piece of baroque (perfect for the church setting), and Haydn's Symphony 104 (his last and also known at the "London" symphony) is immediately recognizable.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Timeless Advice from a Mother to a Father

Immer bist du doch, Vater, so ungerecht gegen den Sohn! und so wird am wenigsten dir dein Wunsch des Guten erfüllet.  Denn wir können die Kinder nach unserem Sinne nicht formen; So wie Gott sie uns gab, so muß man sie haben und lieben, Sie erziehen aufs beste und jeglichen lassen gewähren.  Denn der eine hat die, die anderen andere Gaben; Jeder braucht sie, und jeder ist doch nur auf eigene Wesie Gut und glücklich.

Why will you always, father, do our son such injustice?  That least of all is the way to bring your wish to fulfillment.  We have no power to fashion our children as it suits our will; As they are given by God, so we must have them and love them; teach them as best we can, and let each of them follow his nature.  One will have talents of one sort, and different talents another.  Every one uses his own; in his own individual fashion, each must be happy and good.

~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, parental advice from Goethe's epic poem, Hermann and Dorothea

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Unsent Letter Project

Gosh.  Back in April, I decided I wanted to post unsent letters I had written.  In typical fashion, I've failed miserably at that goal.  In total, I've posted exactly one letter.  At this rate, I'll be lucky if I get one up a year.  This entry isn't unsent letters, but postcards that were sent, received, and through fate, are now back in my possession.

     Today, I'm thinking of my grandma, or Golden Grams as I called her.  She would have been 89 today, and losing her is one of the hardest things I've gone through.

    When she died, we began the process of dismantling her life, of sorting through her things.  Tucked in her beloved set of Encyclopedia Britannica were the following postcards, each one next to entry for the country I'd sent the postcard from.  It touched me to see how she'd saved the postcards I'd sent her from my travels.

     The first postcard is from my first trip abroad-- a trip I took with my friend, Mark, and his family.  The following year I went back to Paris to study abroad for a semester, and I mailed her a postcard from the Loire valley, which my classmates and I had toured.  The third postcard was mailed from Athens, Greece.  I had traveled there alone to model, and it was my first time traveling on my own.  I stayed there for two months, and worked with a local modeling agency there (garnering my first two national magazine covers during that trip).  The last postcard was mailed from Cologne, Germany.  It's special to me, because my grandma sat next me on the train while I wrote it.  We'd traveled to Germany to visit my brother, who was studying there, and so that Grandma could see the homeland of her father.  It was a very special trip, and I was thrilled to have the woman I loved so much with me.

    Grandma, I miss you.  I think of you all the time, and I'm thankful for whatever vestiges I carry of you.  You were an amazing woman, and I'm glad that you're reunited with Grandaddy, sitting at the Lord's feet in Paradise.

Dear Golden Grams,
    Here's your postcard-- as promised.  I thought this one was kind of pretty.  This shows the Notre Dame Cathedral which is situated on an island, surrounded by the Seine River.  We climbed the bell tower-- it was very cool!  The view was amazing and there were cool gargoyals.  We also went to the Catacombs-- yards and yards of bones & skulls and things underground.  There's bunches of other things we've done as well but I'll tell you about them later.  Right now we're in Brugge, Belgium which is quite a captivating wonderful little town.  There's a moat surrounding the city.  Also canals-- this is known as the Venice of the North.  I've been to what feels like zillions of churches on this trip-- all magnificent.  The hotel we're in here is an old monastery.  Very quaint.  I love you and hope all is well!
♥ elise

January 2001
Hey Grandma.
   How are you?  We visited this chateau today-- what do you think?  We spent the night in one- it was amazing. Toured 5 in all.  It's cold here but we leave for Barcelona, Spain in two days-- should be warmer there.  I'm having a great time-- meeting lots of friends-- the French are nice.  We stay busy-- constantly doing things.  Thanks for the $$ you sent me for X'mas-- I'm doing pretty good on spending but every bit helps.
♥ you! elise

July 18, 2003
Dear Grandma~
    Hello:)  Greetings from Athens:)  Thought I'd send you a pic of the Parthenon-- it looks much better in the pic as it is currently under construction.
   My time here is almost up-- 10 days to go.  I'm sad to leave as I've grown rather fond of this city.  But I'm happy to be getting home to yummy home-cooked food and my sis's birthday and all.  I'll be home for all of August so that should be very nice.
   I've worked a little bit here so it was definitely worthwhile for me to come here.
   Thank you so much for the money!  I really appreciate it!  I  you and miss you.
xoxo elise

Oct. 12, 06
Hi grandma!
   We are riding back from the Grand Cathedral in Cologne.  I thought this was a nice postcard to remind you of our trip!  I wanted to thank you for being my roomie-- it was a grand trip!
   I had a wonderful trip and am so thankful you came (believe me, when I thought you might decide not to come because of that passport, I seriously considered backing out myself.)  I am so glad that you were able to see the motherland-- and that I could see it with you!  I will treasure the memories of our time together here forever.
I love you!
xoxo-- elise

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

QVC for Breast Cancer Research and Education

I haven't mentioned this here on my blog, but this past summer I had a breast cancer scare.  It started when I found a lump through a self exam and the follow-up mammogram and ultrasound showed some abnormalities (the most significant being microcalcifications which are harbingers of inflammation).  In April, I had three cysts aspirated, and the test results came back as negative for cancer.  Then, in a six-month follow up mammogram and ultrasound, we found more clustering of the microcalcifications, which raised red flags for the radiologist (my classification was raised from 3 to 4B, which meant that originally they classified my results as suspicious and then upgraded it to moderate risk of breast cancer).  I ended up having a biopsy, and after a harrowing couple of days, my pathogen report came back as negative.  Praise the Lord!

Lots of women go through this stuff, but my doctor took it very seriously since both my mother and grandmother had breast cancer.  I'm to continue with my self exams and I head back in a year for a follow-up mammogram, which I will most likely have yearly for the rest of my life.  Fun, right?  But with breast cancer being the 2nd leading cause of death for women in the United States, we have to remain vigilant.

All of the above is a prelude to this (which I am so proud to be a part of!):

Tonight, from 5pm-8pm EST, I will be on QVC for the 19th Annual QVC Presents FFANY Shoes on Sale.  QVC and the Fashion Footware Association of NY have partnered together to raise money and support for breast cancer research and education.  There will be over 90,000 shoes on sale for half of the manufacturer's suggested retail value, and net proceeds will be donated for research.  Yay!

So, tune in tonight, buy shoes, and most importantly, visit your doctor to find out what you need to do to stay healthy!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Concert Tomorrow

I created this flier for the Newark Symphony Orchestra.  Come out for our first concert on Sunday, October 21st at 3pm.

The Newark Symphony Orchestra, whom I play with (violin), is having their first concert of the 2012-2013 season tomorrow.  Yay!  I've mentioned it before, but I am so blessed to be able to play with this group of fine musicians.  I will be eternally grateful that my mom signed me up for violin lessons when I asked her for them at the age of seven years old (although I really wanted cello lessons, but oh well-- I guess it wasn't meant to be).  Incredulously, I stuck with it, playing in my middle school, high school, and college orchestras.  After college, I played in New York with the New School Orchestra (where Aaron Copland once taught, I believe) and then, after a hiatus, I picked my violin back up and begin playing with the Newark Symphony in January 2011.  The music continues to stir my soul, and tomorrow's concert will be no different.  The Dvorak Cello Concerto is particularly breathtaking.  I wish you all could join us tomorrow.

On another note, I also dusted off my graphic design skills (do I have any?) to design the above flier for our concert.  I used Adobe Illustrator to create the cello (I haven't used that program in ten years, but was able to knock the vector image out in 25 minutes!).  I added the text in Photoshop Elements, which is a software program that I love.

Hope you're all having a beautiful weekend and doing things that stir your souls, too.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Missing Friends

I am the ultimate procrastinator.  I should be working on my taxes-- they were due in April, but I filed an extension and now they are due on Monday, October 15th-- six days hence.  I meet with my accountant in two days' time and I am in no way ready for that meeting, although I feel sure I'll get it all done in time (just 'cause I always do, or rather because I will get it done, or I won't, but it'll all work out in the end as it always does).

ANYWAY, the purpose of this post is to, um, post this picture:


That's Kelli and Alex, two women whom I absolutely admire and adore.  The picture is from this past summer when I went to NYC to help Kelli celebrate her impending marriage.  I probably have multiple pictures like this from our years of friendship-- these girls have been important to me for a long time.

I suppose that this post might seem silly, as you in the blogosphere can't possibly care about the ho-hum details of my life, but I have long maintained that the primary purpose of my blog is that it should be a repository of me.  It's here to help me remember, to document.  And with that in mind, on this day, I spent the day in New York with the man that I love.  Following that, I met these girls for dinner at an amazing restaurant and afterwards we made our way to some exclusive hotel which we weren't sure would let us in the door.  We did get in, and sat on the roof as the girls (there were more of us) smoked cigars, and we drank beer.  I felt honored to be included in Kelli's inner circle since I've had what only can be described as a girl crush on her since the moment that we met back in 2003.  These two girls represent so much to me-- they inspire me with their creativity and brillance, they're both incredibly hospitable and loving, and they're sisters of the blood- united by one spirit, that is, my sisters in Christ.  I am blessed to call them sisters and to call them friends.  I love them and miss them immensely.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

He is Praying for Me

If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.  Yet distance makes no difference.  He is praying for me.

~Robert Murray M'Cheyne

One of my favorite quotes.  I wish I could remember this.  He is praying for me.  Thank God He is praying for me.  If only I could remember this simple fact and seal it in my heart.

Friday, September 21, 2012

As Imperceptibly as Grief

As imperceptibly as Grief
The Summer lapsed away—
Too imperceptible at last
To seem like Perfidy—
A Quietness distilled
As Twilight long begun,
Or Nature spending with herself
Sequestered Afternoon—
The Dusk drew earlier in—
The Morning foreign shone—
A courteous, yet harrowing Grace,
As Guest, that would be gone—
And thus, without a Wing
Or service of a Keel
Our Summer made her light escape
Into the Beautiful.

~Emily Dickinson, As Imperceptibly as Grief

Friday, September 14, 2012

Only in One's Soul

The Mother Superior opened the parlor door, but as she was going out she hesitated.  Once more she gave Kitty a long, searching, and sagacious look.  Then she laid her hand gently on her arm.
   "You know, my dear child, that one cannot find peace in work or in pleasure, in the world or in a convent, but only in one's soul."

~W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

Have you seen the movie?  It's one of my favorites.  I'm reading the book now and enjoying it as well.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A little music, a little poetry, a fine picture

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Das Glück ist eine leichte Dirne,
Und weilt nicht gern am selben Ort,
Sie Streicht das Haar dir von der Stirne
Und küßt dich rasch und flattert fort.

Frau Unglück hat im Gegenteile
Dich liebefest and Herz gedrückt;
Sie sagt, sie habe keine Eile,
Setzt sich zu dir ans Bett und strickt.

Happiness is a giddy girl
And always disinclined to stay;
She pats your head, gives you a whirl,
Kisses you quick, and flits away.

But Lady Sorrow now! Don't worry,
She's just the very opposite:
She holds you fast-- she's in no hurry--
She sits down by your bed to knit.

~Lamentationen (Lamentations from Romanzero, Book 2, Lamentations), Heinrich Heine

I'm currently reading Ernst Pawel's The Poet Dying about the great German poet Heinrich Heine's last years of life as an exile in Paris.  The poor man suffered from an agonizing illness which left him in a state of almost total paralysis and blindness and kept him confined to his "mattress tomb."  Amazingly, he remained prolific during this time, and produced really beautiful work.

And a note on translation-- after studying German at Middlebury College last summer, I'm mostly able to read the poem in its original form.  I find it interesting to see what words the translator uses, and how different in some ways the original is from the English.  I guess it's something I'd never thought about before and being able to read both versions gives me a new appreciation for the artform of translation.

Lastly, I like Heine's image of Lady Sorrow sitting by the bed to knit.  The poem paints a sad picture, but I think it also offers a glimpse of Heine's wit and humor which helped carry him along through his long illness.

Monday, September 3, 2012

O My Soul

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

~Psalm 43:5 NIV

These days I feel as if am being doggedly pursued by an old acquaintance of mine.  He's not particularly a welcome friend, but somehow I just don't know how to shake him.  He does leave me alone for a few days, and then, when I'm feeling pretty good about myself, he reappears.

Let me start over.  A month or two ago, a person named Jan wrote a comment on this blog to say that she loves my posts and values my blog.  That comment made my day, nay, my month and I stored it up in the treasury of my heart to revisit time and again.  Yesterday, as I walked home in the rain, an old weather-beaten man tinged with a patina made of the smoke and alcohol which had encircled him for years pulled up beside me in his battered car.  With a kind face lined in wrinkles, and an over-round belly protruding from his unbuttoned shirt, he leaned out his window and asked, "Elise, would you like a ride?"  Then, at work today, on the set of QVC, Mary Beth, a host whose face I remember seeing on the tv screen even as child (my grandmother was a QVC devotee), greeted me by name and asked how I was.    It's a strange thing to think that these small kindnesses-- strangers knowing my name, other strangers telling me that I mean something to them-- touch me very deeply.  These days, they mean almost the world to me.

That old acquaintance that I was telling you about?  His name is depression and he haunts me.  I left QVC today feeling utterly exhausted (I was on the air modeling from 10pm-11pm, 4am-6pm, and again from 1pm-3pm), but came home feeling a different sort of lethargy.  My soul felt downtrodden (does anyone else but me think it's fun that the past participle of tread is trodden?  Tread, trod, trodden.  I do love English so.) and I was at a loss for how to pull myself out of that funk.  I changed into my workout gear, and it seems a small miracle that I managed to lace up my shoes and step out the door.  At first I walked slowly, and then, with a miniature pinscher eagerly dragging me along, I began to run.  The steps were small and I limited my effort, but then with the cool rain-laden air fanning my cheek, I ran faster.  By the end of it, I felt wonderfully blessed.

I would that I could hold on to that feeling of well-being, but ah, he, my old acquaintance (for surely he is no friend), will not be deterred.  It is a never-ending battle, and I must take up again my weapons of self-defense.

I am thankful today for the kindness of strangers.  Let my prayer be like that of St. Francis:

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One of my Favorite Hymns

1. Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

2. Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is one of my favorite hymns and I particularly enjoy this version by singer-songwriter, Sufjan Stevens.  My favorite verse has long been the last one.  The words "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,/ Prone to leave the God I love" have always struck so close to home and my prayer echoes the hymn in desiring for His grace to fetter my wandering heart to Him.

The lyrics, by the way, were written in 1757 by a Baptist pastor at the age of 22.  The tune that we Americans sing an old American folk tune called Nettleton.  The story goes that seventeen-year-old Robert Robinson was told by a an old gypsy woman that he would live to see his children and grandchildren grow up.  At hearing this news, the errant young man thought to himself that if this were true, he must change his ways.  That night he went to see the great preacher, George Whitfield, speak, ostensibly to make fun of him, but Whitfield's words settled into Robinson's heart, and two years later he committed his life to following God's will.

If you were wandering what it means to raise your Ebenezer, it's a reference to the 1 Samuel 7:12 in the Bible.  In that passage, to celebrate a great victory that God had given Israel over their enemies, Samuel takes a large stone and sets it up between two cities.  "...He named it Ebenezer-- "the stone of help"-- for he said, 'Up to this point the Lord has helped us.'"  To raise your own Ebenezer would be, in effect, to do the same thing; that is, to recognize the faithfulness of the Lord and to profess how He has helped you and blessed you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Man Will Endure

"I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past."

~Excerpt from William Faulkner's 1950 acceptance speech for the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain-- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.

I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped sound of feet

When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-by;

And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right,
I have been one acquainted with the night.

~Robert Frost, Acquainted with the Night

Monday, August 6, 2012

Because They're Cute

I've been MIA from my blog and when I finally get around to posting here's what I have for ya:
Why?  Because they're cute and the pictures make me happy.  Here's one last one for you:

Friday, July 20, 2012

As Dreams Are Made On

You do look, my son, in a moved sort,
As if you were dismay'd: be cheerful, sir.
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

~Prospero, Act 4, Scene 1, William Shakespeare's The Tempest

Saturday, June 30, 2012

You Have Never Talked to a Mere Mortal

"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal."

~C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wondrous Love

There is a great old American hymn that sounds like astonishment itself, and I mention it... because even its title speaks more powerfully of the meaning of our narrative than whole shelves of books.  It is called "Wondrous Love." "What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss/ to bear the dreadful cross for my soul?"  If we have entertained the questions we moderns must pose to ourselves about the plausibility of incarnation, if we have sometimes paused to consider the other ancient stories of miraculous birth, this is not great matter.  But if we let these things distract us, we have lost the main point of the narrative, which is that God is of a kind to love the world extravagantly, wondrously, and the world is a kind to be worth, which is to say worthy of, this pained and rapturous love.  This is the essence of the story that forever eludes the telling.  It lives in the world not as myth or history but as a saturating light, a light so brilliant that hides its source, to borrow an image from another good old hymn.

~Wondrous Love, from Marilynne Robinson's collection of essays, When I Was a Child I Read Books 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Upon the Wings of Song

Auf Flügeln des Gesanges,
Herzliebchen, trag ich dich fort,
Fort nach den Fluren des Ganges,
Dort weiß ich den schönsten Ort;

Dort liegt ein rotblühender Garten
Im stillen Mondenschein,
Die Lotosblumen erwarten
Ihr trautes Schwesterlein.

Die Veilchen kichern und kosen,
Und schaun nach den Sternen empor,
Heimlich erzählen die Rosen
Sich duftende Märchen ins Ohr.

Es hüpfen herbei und lauschen
Die frommen, klugen Gazelln,
Und in der Ferne rauschen
Des [heiligen]2 Stromes Well'n.

Dort wollen wir niedersinken
Unter dem Palmenbaum,
Und Liebe und Ruhe trinken,
Und träumen seligen Traum.

On wings of song,
my love, I'll carry you away
to the fields of the Ganges
Where I know the most beautiful place.

There lies a red-flowering garden,
in the serene moonlight,
the lotus-flowers await
Their beloved sister.

The violets giggle and cherish,
and look up at the stars,
The roses tell each other secretly
Their fragant fairy-tales.

The gentle, bright gazelles,
pass and listen;
and in the distance murmurs
The waves of the holy stream.

There we will lay down,
under the palm-tree,
and drink of love and peacefulnes
And dream our blessed dream.
~Auf Flügeln des Gesanges (On Wings of Song), Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)
I particularly like the line about the violets giggling.  

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Easily torn, not easily mended

"Every secret of the body was rendered up-- bone risen through flesh, sacrilegious glimpses of an intestine or an optic nerve.  From this new and intimate perspective, she learned a simple, obvious thing she had always known, and everyone knew: that a person is, among all else, a material thing, easily torn, not easily mended."

~Ian McEwan, Atonement

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Queen

Years ago, when I was a lass of 16 or so, a boy crowned me May Queen.  For whatever reason, that idea sat well with my soul, and ever since, I have celebrated May 1st as the day of my crowning.  Silly, I know, but indulge me, won't you?  Amazingly, there are always people who do cater to my silly fantasies, like sweet Grant and Beth who gave me a crown one year, and my own dear mother who commemorates it each year with flowers.  In 2005, my then boyfriend set about collecting letters from many of my friends and assembled them into a book.  It was incredibly thoughtful and sweet and more than a girl could ask for.  It remains one of my most cherished possessions to this day.  All of the illustrations are credited to Stephen Halker.  The letters are those from whom I shall always love.

Happy May Day to you.  I hope that your life is as richly blessed as my own has been.  I hope that you have friends who care for you and indulge you in the silliest of ideas.  I hope that when you see flowers that they perk up your heart, because if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?


Monday, April 30, 2012

The Unsent Letter Project

"Sir, When we thinke of a friend, we do not count that thought a lost thought, though that friend never knew of it.  If we write to a friend, we must not call it a lost Letter, though it never finde him to whom it was addressed: for we owe ourselves that office, to be mindefull of our friends."

~Poet and Preacher John Donne in a letter to a friend (written sometime between 1603 and 1616)

My favorite blogger is girl by the name of Meg Fee.  She writes beautifully and with disarming truth.  It's that truth that I admire so and it's the lack of it in my own blog posts that I dislike.  It's not that I'm incapable of writing the truth-- read my diary sometime-- but I'm loathe to write it here.  In the early days, before friends and my mother knew about this blog, I found writing truthfully to be much easier (and safer).  Nowadays, I stick to posting pretty pictures, mindless fluff, and the odd quote or bit of poetry that hints at what lies beneath.

In my collection are a bunch of letters that I have started to friends but never finished (or finished and never sent).  They're fun for me to look at because they capture for me how I was feeling at that time.  And they're honest.  Sometimes shockingly so.  It scares me a bit to post them here, but in an attempt to be more honest, that's what I intend to do.  This feels like a character-growing activity for me because it lets people in to see some of my sensitive spots (and the ugly blights upon my soul as well), but it feels safe-ish, too, because they paint pictures of a former elise, not the current elise.

With that, I humbly submit the Unsent Letter Project.  My first entry is rather innocuous; the heady ones will come later.  I always was the type to dip my toe in before jumping in completely.  This letter is to a girl named Golnar who I had forgotten ever existed until I found this letter.  It would have been written circa 1993 (I was a seventh grader), and was to a friend I had left behind after my family moved to Delaware.

The letter (transcribed below):


Dear Golnar,
    So how is science?  Real fun I bet, right?  Well here it is so boring.  Everyone seem to be so stupid (I don't mean to be mean.  I'm serious though)  It's just that well they don't really think.  I'm almost positive I'll either get all A's or all A's and 1 B.  You'd whiz by here.  So would Janet.  So how is it being a lab partner with Janet?  You get to do a lot more things when you do a lab without me (miss fair everyone gets the exact amount of turns) there.  Also I'm no longer blameable (is that a word) for breaking stuff.  Our science class here is... different... The other day we got to disect a earthworm.  How fun!  I just love earthworms don't you?  Well actully I got to disect a gummiworm (yumm) instead.  Some other people chose to too.  Well I gotta go take a shower now (We have to be at the bus stop at 6:55 [that's right 6:55 in the morning]) Please, please, please, please, PLEASE write back.
                                                                       your friend,

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Each Day You Mean One More

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover.  They can do anything
you can't blame them 
from doing.  How can you stop
them?  Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, and army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge.  With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization.  With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no 
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter
ten thousand, power and your own paper
a hundred thousand, your own media
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
It starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

~Marge Piercy, The Low Road

I just came home from my local polling place having voted for the Republican candidate for President of the United States.  As I waited for the red light to change, a car pulled past me in the other lane, and I noticed with a smile that the car had a Ron Paul bumpersticker on it.  The driver had obviously noticed the matching sticker on my Subaru and our eyes met in the reflection of his rearview mirror and he flashed me a peace sign.  It was a moment where one feels the flash of humanity-- we were friends even though we had never met.  It's a powerful feeling to look another human being in the eye and to know you've met an ally.

One cold morning last January, I looked out my window to see a world blanketed in snow.  I rubbed my blurry eyes with my hands and peered between the blinds again.  That morning I had volunteered to petition for signatures to get Ron Paul's name on the ballot here in Delaware.  It was to be my first foray into that campaign world, and I had no idea of what to expect.  The little voice that lies dormant through the week but looks upon lazy Saturday mornings with longing whispered, "You don't have to go.  No one would fault you if you didn't make it out in the snow."  But another voice spoke up with more sternness, "No, you must keep your commitments.  Let your yes be yes and your no be no."

That was how it all began.  I have been blessed beyond measure because I decided to show up that day.  This Saturday I, along with other dear committed souls, will be a delegate to the State Convention.  With any luck we will shape the future.  Along the way I have met so many amazing, passionate people-- dear Eric, Sam and Nicole, Mark, Randy and Taylor, Meredith, Hollie, Tom, the Young Americans for Liberty, and countless others.  It has been a joy to walk beside them.  And so, this is for them.  This is for my friends who are fighting for Liberty.  This is for my friends who are paying attention.  This is for my friends who care to act.  I say "We", and we know who we mean, and each day we mean one more.  Won't you come and join us?


The Dream Digger

Don't you love me, don't you want to look at me?
Oh, how handsome you are, damn you!
And I can no longer fly,
I who was winged from childhood.
A mist clouds my eyes,
Things and faces merge and flow,
And there is only the red tulip,
The tulip in your buttonhole.

~Anna Akhmatova

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Things

This is a really fun post for me to write.  Some of my favorite people in the world are appearing in commercials right now.  So, I thought I'd share them with you (and, I actually started my blog as a repository for all things I love, so this is as much for mw as it is for you).

First up is my friend, Laura-- or Larry, as I affectionately call her.  Laura was my roommate and BFF in NY.  She and I got into no end of trouble together and I miss her dearly (time and distance have worked their magic so that we don't talk so much anymore, but she still owns a piece of my heart)(She's the dark-haired beauty with blue eyes):

Next up is my other BFF, Corrie, who is currently in a McDonald's commercial (she's the workaholic in glasses).  Corrie is my saving grace, and if you read this blog with any frequency at all, you know her

AND, here's Corrie again, with another one of my favorite gals, Morgan.  Morgan and I went to college together, studied in Paris together, and shared wonderful times together in NY.  She's one of the best people I know.  Morgan is now a stylist in NY (she's super talented), and I'm happy to see things coming together for her.  I introduced her to my friend, Corrie, and now they're in a commercial together.  Also in the commercial are Morgan's boyfriend and sister.  Super cool!

Finally, here's my friend, Heather, in a Samsung commercial.  Heather and I studied together in college (Apparel Design 2002! and we studied in Paris together).  She's amazingly talented (she designs clothing, but can act, too).  You can also catch her in the first ever episode of Madmen.  Hey-hey, I miss you, my love! (She's the teacher here):

Isn't it fun to have such amazingly beautiful and talented friends?  Gals, I love you and miss you so much!  I would love to be in the same city, soaking up each other's light. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Pain will cease, do not grieve, do not grieve--
Friends will return, the heart will rest, do not grieve, do not grieve--
The wound will be made whole, do not grieve, do not grieve--
Day will come forth, do not grieve, do not grieve--
The cloud will open, night will decline, do not grieve, do not grieve--
The seasons will change, do not grieve, do not grieve.

~Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shine, Perishing Republic

While this America settles in the mould of its vulgarity, heavily thickening 
   to empire
And protest, only a bubble in the molten mass, pops and sighs out, and the
   mass hardens,
I sadly smiling remember that the flower fades to make fruit, the fruit rots 
   to make earth.
Out of the mother; and through the spring exultances, ripeness and deca-
   dence; and home to the mother.

You making haste haste on decay: not blameworthy; life is good, be it stub-
   bornly long or suddenly
A mortal splendor: meteors are not needed less than mountains: 
   shine, perishing republic.
But for my children, I would have them keep their distance from the thick-
   ening center; corruption
Never has been compulsory, when the cities lie at the monster's feet there 
   are left the mountains.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in love of man, a clever servant, 
   insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught--they say--
   God, when he walked on earth. 

~Robinson Jeffers, Shine, Perishing Republic, 1925