Saturday, March 31, 2007

No rules have been broken here

Once Luca convinced me that I needed a blog, I (silently) outlined certain rules for myself.

I’d never, ever write about what I do for a living. ("Church and State" reasoning.)

I’d portray things in their best light. (For example, if I went to a restaurant and didn’t like the food, I’d just not mention the incident at all.)

I’d never make what someone else wrote count as my own entry. I don’t mind it when other people do it. It’s just that one of the reasons I decided to blog in the first place was discipline: the point is to sit down and write something – not for pay, not for work, not for friends, just for me – at least once a week.

Posting what someone else says, no matter how meaningful, remains, within my own strict, closed-circuit universe, a cop-out.

All this to tell you that my friend Chris sent me to Stephen Frug’s blog, who in turn speaks about a Codex Seraphinianus. This Codex was created in 1978 by Italian artist Luigi Serafini. The whole thing has been posted online as a Flickr set. (And, it might not remain there for long.) I don't know about you, but I'd never heard about it.

I urge you to go see it.

Please start by clicking on “Attempts”, Stephen’s blog. Read Stephen’s entry and his trail to Wikipedia and finally to the code itself.

I’m mesmerized by it.

And, for the record, I wrote my entry for this week yesterday – so I’m not even counting this one. My rules remain, for the most part, pristine and unbroken.

At least, the ones that pertain to blogging.

For those about to rock

I love music. I love it so much that if I hear it I need to do nothing else. At least nothing that requires that I think about anything other than the song.

I listen to music while I clean my house, while I cook, while I drive, and while I lie around listening to music. I cannot listen to music while I write. Or work. Or carry a conversation. If someone invites me to a party or dinner and there is background music, I cannot pay attention (to what they’re saying. I pay attention to the lyrics of the song just fine.)

Luca claims he listens to music while he works, but if you turn it off and ask him what he was listening to, he can’t say. He tells me he loves a song but if I ask him what it’s about he doesn’t know (even when he’s been listening to said song for years.)

If a friend asks me to “listen to this” I feel the task has to be done with respect towards the request. I stop everything. I lean towards the speakers. I close my eyes.

I can relate to this compulsion to multitask, but why must we fragment pleasure? Why must we risk sensory overload? Why not give in to the full invitation that is a good tune?

Can you listen to music while you work or while you do any other task that requires concentration? If so, are you listening, or are you reducing it to white noise? Do you heed the lyrics, or just the notes?

When it’s a song you like, how soon after it starts do you recognize it? How often do you know who’s singing?

And, if you’re with me and I insist on belting out the entire lyrics, would you be irritated, or would you join in?

Sunday, March 25, 2007


“But, why do you blog?” my friend Ottavia asks.

I tell her I do it because I like to. I add that if no one ever read my entries, I’d probably post them anyway.

“I’m really worried about this,” she says. “It’s different from letters, which bring you closer to others. This sounds so isolating.”

Outwardly, I explain that blogs could be the ultimate family album. A way to stay in touch even across continents. Bla, bla, bla. Inwardly, I consider this. I have always loved activities, such as reading or swimming, which I suppose could be considered reclusive.

Could she be right?

I guess it comes down to how I feel while I write.

Let’s see.

With my fingers on this keyboard, putting a thought down on the screen and editing it until it feels just right, I am quite possibly at my happiest.

As I sit here and write this, I am indeed alone in front of my computer. But I feel anything but lonely. Every corner of this room is full. I feel I’m writing for you. A warm, fluid, luminescent, interchangeable you.

My verdict is this: It’s romantic, in a dark, enticingly tormented, smoky, dense, impossibly slim, emotionally just out of your reach sort of way to say that writing is a lonely enterprise. But no matter what anyone tells you, its ultimate purpose is one of communion. Of sharing – even if the only person you are sharing it with is a hopeful, wistfully optimistic future version of you. Even if whom you share it with remains forever abstract.

Yes. A blog is an endeavor one embarks on alone. It’s only isolating if that’s how the writer feels. This writer does not.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Her best work and all the others

My mom is a sculptor. This weekend, Luca and I (and 300 other friends and family members) attended an exhibit of her pieces at the Dolores Olmedo Museum in Mexico City. The show celebrated 40 years of her work. Her life as I know it.

The sculptures I grew up with – the ones that started up as bent rods and inert lumps of clay and became sinewy horses, warriors, dancers – were displayed all over the garden of this beautiful place, among oranges and lemon blossoms, bougainvilleas and peacocks strutting and showing off their elaborate feathered tails. The sculptures stood like a defiant, metallic album of my childhood, growing up among the clay, the casts and the dust in her studio above my room.

The word “retrospective” honors an artist’s past work. I don’t think the Museum fully grasped the meaning of this proposition. The work represented in the bronze outlines that are a result of my mother’s prolific life are gleaming black green shadows. Her real work is the people who walked among them. All of us: her friends, their children (now my own soul-friends) my brothers and sisters, my father and Tomas.

You see, in varying degrees, we are all a result of the life my mother sculpted. We have all been shaped by those big hands. The sculptures, muscle and movement; and the flesh and blood men and women we have all somehow become. We have in common the gloriously deranged privilege of having caught a glimpse of the world through my mother’s eyes.

As proud as I am of this weekend, I am not ready for my mother’s life to be a retrospective. She’s not done. All her life she has spoken of heroism. Of crossing the Earth on a winged chariot, of a man’s reach exceeding his grasp, of defying the odds, of showing the world that the rules that apply to humanity do not apply to her and those under her wings. She owes us, owes me, at least another 40 years of intense, inspired creation.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What do women want?

What is it that women want?

We want someone to look into our eyes and say "everything is going to be all right." It's not that we're weak. We just think strength should take turns.

We want someone to cook for us. Some of us like to cook, some of us don't. Either way, we like it when someone else does it. Wear an apron.

We want someone to listen to us. Intently. Enraptured. This means that if you can juggle anything else while listening to us, you're not riveted enough.

We want to be told we're beautiful. We like to hear this after we've made an effort to look it, but like it even more when we're exhausted or sweaty or sick or all three.

We want you to stand up for us. Fiercely. When we're not there, but also when we are. It's not that we can't stand up for ourselves. It's that we enjoy the company.

So there. Now you know.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Truth and the impostor

Sometimes, the opposite of what I believe is something I believe too.

It’s such a small world --The world is enormous.

Love is blind -- Love lets you see the other person clearly.

Lack of Earthly desires makes for a passionless life -- Not having any desires is Nirvana.

Seek and you shall find -- You can only find if you don’t seek.

I don’t know if God exists -- God exists until proven otherwise.

I think, therefore I am -- I think, and the more I think the less I’m sure that I am.

Good always triumphs over evil -- Evil lurks everywhere, invincible.

Truth is -- Truth is subjective.

You can’t know what you don’t have words for -- Some things can’t be expressed in words.

I am an impostor -- What you see is what you get.

Logic is indisputable -- Logic is personal.

Fight –- Wait.

I wish I’d done things differently -- If I’d done thing differently I’d be someplace else (and I like where I am).

Appearances don’t matter -- Appearances don’t lie.

Religion is peace –- Religion twists.

Keep an open mind –- Stand for something.

Writing is everything -- Writing is pointless.

In the grand scheme of things, we are nothing -- In the grand scheme of things, we are responsible.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Dream big for a buck

Tonight at 8:00 p.m. is a record $370 million lottery draw. (The winner won’t be announced until Wednesday morning.)

I’m a declared anti-gambler, but I don’t think buying a lottery ticket qualifies as gambling because the chances of winning are 1 in 175,711,536.

I bought a ticket so Luca and I could discuss what we would do with the money. I told him that the plan I had in mind when I paid for it was to buy him his favorite soccer team (Inter Milan). His eyes widened, glazed over. He smiled maniacally. Then he mumbled that the team might not be for sale, so we moved on to making a list of things we could do in case that didn’t work out. Here is an excerpt:

- We’d extinguish our mortgage.
- We’d extinguish Luca’s brother’s mortgage.
- We’d give his parents a million dollars.
- We’d give each of my parents a million dollars.
- We’d replace our carpet with hardware floors.
- We’d buy a small apartment in SF so we wouldn’t have to drive to the office.
- We’d buy a small apartment in NY.
- We’d buy a house in Italy, maybe near the sea (I want it in Puglia because the food there is stupendous.)
- I want to reserve some of the money for random, anonymous acts of kindness. For example, the cleaning lady in our office building would find 10,000 dollars in her pocket one evening.
- Luca wants to create a foundation to aid in the fight against Global Warming.
- I want to create a foundation geared towards animal welfare.
- We would stay at our jobs, but take off a month out of the year to travel. We’d invite friends to come with us.
- I’d put my friend Rachel on a permanent retainer so I’d never again have to feel I don’t know what to wear.

Your turn. What would you do if you won 370 million dollars? It’s pretty unlikely, I know. But someone out there is going to win. Why can’t we assume, just for an hour, that it will be you?

Friday, March 2, 2007

You know you want to

TV, they say, will turn your brains to mush. Among the ambitious, high achiever crowd I occasionally frequent (when I’m not napping), it’s become the new dirty little secret: I have a friend who reveals more sordid details of her life than I’ve ever wanted to know, and yet won’t admit to (gasp) watching television.

In the spirit of putting myself out there (the very nature of blogging) I will say this: I love TV. Some days I come home late and exhausted and my one desire is to snack and watch program after program until all my grey matter dissolves and pours out of my ears.

I hate that I love it. I’ve often tried to watch less of it. It’s such a time leak. On days I don’t watch it, I blog, I cooks meals for the week, I empty out my inbox, I read, I clean my house, do my laundry and iron every one of Luca’s shirts.

Fortunately, this does not happen very often.

Here is what I like to watch (keep in mind I own a Tivo, so can cover a lot of ground.)
  • American Idol. I’m not watching this time (something needed to go) but I did watch the season where Jennifer Hudson was eliminated, and boy, am I glad I was a part of that.
  • Heroes. I love any kind of superpower and can fantasize about discovering one of my own.
  • 24. Probably the best writing in television, even though I find it hard to manage the absurd levels of stress it causes me.
  • Ugly Betty, because ugly can be adorable, and because the hands that rock it are Mexican.
  • Grey’s Anatomy. We watched the entire first season during a precious, rainy weekend. The Monday after, we went to work and wondered if we needed to call Dr. Burke to ask him if he was feeling better.
I also watched Nine and was sorry when they took it off the air, although not as sorry as when they canceled Boomtown. Program selection can be unbearably cruel.

And, yes. I am a die-hard Oprah Winfrey fan. Has there ever been a more incredible woman (besides my mother)? I record all of Oprah’s shows, and then skim over some and watch others (I’ve been known to cover four episodes in an hour if under pressure.)

So, do me a favor and keep the sordid details of your life to yourself, and instead tell me – what do you like to watch? Come on. You know you want to.