Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Waiting For Santa

What was I thinking? This afternoon—Christmas Eve day—I found myself standing in line with hundreds of others—mostly parents and grandparents with a smattering of children—on the third floor of Macy’s Center City waiting to see Santa. Well, I didn't exactly want to see Santa myself. I wanted to see the Dickens Village that was the prelude to Santa, and then I thought it might be fun to catch a glimpse of actual children sitting on Santa’s lap. Then I realized I had a rather skewed idea of fun.

Years ago, on that very same day, I had bravely marched into Macy’s in Herald Square to pick up a last minute gift only to find myself in a sea of people so thick it was impossible to even reach the escalator on the first floor. I left without the gift, and I swore to myself I would never do that again. So what possessed me to venture back into Macy’s? I don’t know, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Memories of Kennedys and King

It is Kennedy memorial time again, that yearly remembering of how the young vibrant 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, died in a motorcade in Dallas, and each time it comes around I am thrust back into the days of my growing up. College and Kennedy’s election, the Bay of Pigs and student protests, marches against the war, and the introduction of pot as an alternative to alcohol. We really thought we could change the world, and in many ways, we did. 

This past year, Philadelphia seemed to be obsessed with all things 1968 – and that too awakened memories. Walking through the 1968 Exhibit at the Constitution Center, looking at images and artifacts of events I had actually experienced, reminded me of just how powerful those times were. And then, more recently, watching RFK, a revival of a one-man show about Robert Kennedy, another leader we had believed in but never got to see what he could accomplish. Unlike the Kennedys, most of us live on the fringes of history, we are not essential to the events that occur around us, but those events are crucial in shaping our lives and our eventual legacies.

For me, 1968 was the year the young men died – Kennedy, King, Michael (my own personal loss), and countless unnamed others who were each someone’s son, boyfriend, lover, father, friend, dying in a faraway land for a cause most of us no longer believed in. It was a time of chaos and confusion. A time of hope and horror. The death of men far too young to die, the riots of young people in Chicago while business went on as usual in the Convention Center. I wondered how many people I knew in that unruly rabble in Lincoln Park, wondered if I should have been there too, yet relieved ultimately that I wasn’t.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Drama of a Dress

Some Thoughts After Seeing Love, Loss and What I Wore

We complain when the media focuses on what a woman wears, instead of on what she says We probably know more about Hilary Clinton’s choice of pant suits than about her specific political positions. Yet we flock to see a show that is about the clothes we wear and have worn through out our lives.

That’s what Love, Loss and What I Wore, described as an intimate collection of stories by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron , based on the book by Ilene Beckerman, which closed recently after a successful run at the Philadelphia Theater Company at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre in Philadelphia is about. The play, staged like a reading - five women seated on stools with only a few drawings on an easel to illustrate some of the fashions mentioned - manages nevertheless to evoke memories in the audience composed mostly of women, even on a Friday evening, of our own experiences with fashion over the years. 

Clothes are significant. They reveal our status, our aspirations, and our passions. They act as disguises when we want to hide because we’re in a bad mood, and they reveal our bodies when we want to entice. They also tell our histories. Women used to make quilts out of old clothes not only because they were sometimes the only fabrics available, but as a way of retelling the story of the wearer, the lived experiences of those cloths, the cold nights, the bad dates, the happy births and weddings.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Blog in My Mind

Over the last few months I have written some compelling, thought-provoking articles on a variety of subjects – whether women are too far out or too far in to be considered outsider artists; how women use their bodies as well as their voices to express outrage instead of sexuality; which moments in time really matter in women’s history.   However, unless you are gifted with ESP or some other form of mind-reading, you probably missed these articles.  That’s because they exist only on the media platform known as my mind.

I did not treat these pieces lightly; they were more than random thoughts that flitted across my mind and then vanished never to appear again. I spent a lot of time with them. I thought them through; I researched material and interviewed subjects; I attended events and jotted down notes in a notebook. I even edited the copy, debating which words to use and what titles to give each piece. But ultimately they remained imprinted only in my consciousness and not on paper.

Now the mind is a very powerful thing. It can affect the way we feel and behave, it can influence our health and our emotional state. But one thing it cannot do is write. It cannot, on its own, change thoughts into concrete form. One might say that words have their own ephemerality (perhaps a made up word, but it does say what I mean). The squiggles on a piece of paper have meaning only because we have collectively and culturally assigned a certain sound and a certain sense to them. Nevertheless, they are more corporeal than thoughts. They can be shared, they can be preserved.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What I Learned from Gabrielle Roth

Her music was the background of my life for many years. Her rhythms affected how I moved through the world. Eternal Dance was the rhythm of my days. Refuge was the music I used to clean my home. Yet, when Gabrielle Roth passed away on October 22, 2012 I didn’t know about it. Her passing was not noted in anything I read or saw, I only learned that she was gone when Eve Ensler, speaking at TEDxWomen in December 2012, said that she was no longer with us.

I was saddened to know that I had lost touch with Gabrielle, with her teachings, with my own sense of self. Her work has been called meditative dance, sacred dance, trance dance. I called it ecstatic dance, a call to leave my own limitations and connect with the natural rhythms of my body. When I ceased listening to her rhythms, I ceased listening to the rhythms of my own body, my own soul.
Then Eve called on us to dance on V-Day, February 14, 2013, and I knew that I would have to join, not only to stand with all the women who had been harmed by violence, but also to honor Gabrielle, the teacher of my way of being in the world.