30 January 2009

"If you have knowledge, let others light their candle by it."
Margaret Fuller

27 January 2009

in his words

The writer John Updike died today at age 76...... I started looking through some of the words that he shared with the world, and these few felt rather poignant today.

"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them."

"A narrative is like a room on whose walls a number of false doors have been painted; while within the narrative, we have many apparent choices of exit, but when the author leads us to one particular door, we know it is the right one because it opens."

"We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one."

j o h n u p d i k e

26 January 2009

"The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart."
robert green ingersoll

((image courtesy of austinevan on flickr))

23 January 2009

almost out the door.......

i always get ideas and inspirations when i don't have any paper or time to write..
on walks or in the shower or when i'm pressed to get somewhere rushing to get ready and leave the house, well it's often a sequence of inspiration: walk..shower..get ready..try to write some of it down quickly..inevitably late out the door......

and yes i find myself in that position once again. wanted to share some delightful photos of oslo in the snow, according to my norwegian correspondent ((aka my dearest norwegian friend marianne)) it snowed 36 hours straight this past weekend in oslo, and she took photos of some of my favorite places in olso..places i've only visited in the sun ((yes there really is sun in norway!!)) now covered in snow. she's one of those friends that makes me feel like i'm right there with her, walking to kaffebrenneriet for kaffe or driving through the mountains to the island sommerhus.....

oh, and would you look at the time, i'm officially running late. again. haha funny that i'm running late after just talking about my dearest scandinavian friend....ever punctual..ever patient with me..

tucen takk, stort kyss x c

22 January 2009

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address 20 January 2009
((photo via the big picture))

"...know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

"...when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations."

"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history..."

President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address 20 January 2009
((photos found here and here))

21 January 2009

in other words

Praise Song for the Day,
A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

This is the poem written for Obama's inauguration
by Elizabeth Alexander who read it aloud at the inaugural ceremony.

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

Picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Poem by Elizabeth Alexander
Images found here and here

20 January 2009

delightfully warm moment

the hardest thing for me to understand about this entire eventful day...is the weather... this supposed bitter weather they talk of in washington and the images that appear on all the tv screens....and the sunshine day out my window, near summer temperatures on a january inauguration day in california.. and i'm on my way out to enjoy it, sunglasses and flip flops, ready to take it all in. lots more to write about when i get back!

"in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come."

President Barack Obama's inaugural address 20 January 2009

((photo via nytimes.com))

19 January 2009

piece of cake

So on Friday my brilliant little sister passed the orals for her bio-chem PhD. It was actually an encouraging journey for me to search for the quotes of courage and perspective that I posted here for her, while attempting to shine some light along the way in her quest for victory, I stumbled across words and thoughts that show us all the bigger picture, and make us realize what we're doing this for, whether we win or lose, fail or succeed. Of course accomplishing something you never thought possible feels pretty darn good..and I feel relieved and proud that she succeeded, but now I guess it just makes it official: she's the smart sister.....and I'm..I'm the one who tries to make her laugh :)

((this is another image by the Californian artist Wayne Thiebaud, who years ago, was a dear friend of my great aunt))

16 January 2009

still thinking about italy!!

alla luna

O graziosa luna, io mi rammento
Che, or volge l'anno, sovra questo colle
Io venia pien d'angoscia a rimirarti:
E tu pendevi allor su quella selva
Siccome or fai, che tutta la rischiari.
Ma nebuloso e tremulo dal pianto
Che mi sorgea sul ciglio, alle mie luci
Il tuo volto apparia, che travagliosa
Era mia vita: ed è, nè cangia stile,
O mia diletta luna. E pur mi giova
La ricordanza, e il noverar l'etate
Del mio dolore. Oh come grato occorre
Nel tempo giovanil, quando ancor lungo
La speme e breve ha la memoria il corso,
Il rimembrar delle passate cose,
Ancor che triste, e che l'affanno duri!

to the moon

Now that the year has come full circle,
I remember climbing this hill, heartbroken,
To gaze up at the graceful sight of you,
And how you hung then above those woods
As you do tonight, bathing them in brightness.
But at that time your face seemed nothing
But a cloudy shimmering through my tears,
So wretched was the life I led: and lead still ...
Nothing changes, moon of my delight. Yet
I find pleasure in recollection, in calling back
My season of grief: when one is young,
And hope is a long road, memory
A short one, how welcome then
The remembrance of things past - no matter
How sad, and the heart still grieving.

g i a c o m o l e o p a r d i

translated by eamon grennan

good luck, bonne chance, courage....

and remember....

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
t h e o d o r e r o o s e v e l t

13 January 2009

"i never travel without my diary. one should always have something sensational to read in the train."
o s c a r w i l d e

eccitazione!!! emozioni!! excitement in the air....

My charming, vivacious and ever-so bellaaaa Italian friend Maria Teresa and her equally as charming French boy Christophe are having their wedding this July in Italy. This morning I received an enthusiastic email detailing some info for the event. Immediately if not sooner the festivities played out in my head, dancing with the color and laughter and rhythm, the intermingling of languages and energy that inevitably comes alive amongst such friends.

Suddenly I was inspired to write about it and all of this before I'd even had my coffee. And I intend on writing much more.....actually not quite sure how I'd go about stopping myself. Until then, here are some photos of Maratea, the seaside village of Maria Teresa's childhood memories, where the festivities will take place. It seems to be situated right about where the bottom laces of the boot might cross....


12 January 2009

The More Loving One
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total darkness sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

w. h. a u d e n

11 January 2009

"I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in."

v i r g i n i a w o o l f

10 January 2009

"When I look back on all these worries,
I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened
w i n s t o n c h u r c h i l l

weather the storm

was going through some old pics and found these from when we tried to ice skate on the eiffel tower one year. i say try, because it's difficult to ice skate in a puddle, no matter how aesthetically pleasing the surroundings may be.

this year there's no doubt that puddle would in fact stay frozen, the amount of snow in paris ((and all of france right now)) has simply taken my breath away. in all five years i never even dreamed anything like this, i remember cheering the one day the snow stuck to the ground. i wonder how long i'd be able to stand the cold though.....

here are some great photos from carla coulson who's stuck right there amidst the flurry of this parisian winter wonderland.

ugh, i still can't believe it. and i still can't decide whether i'm insanely jealous that i'm missing it, or insanely lucky to have been out and about all day in a lightweight sweater and dark sunglasses........as always, with me the answer is never clear, or simple, black, or white, or for that matter, here when i need it, perhaps it's stuck in the snow. and that reminds me of something i wanted to tell my sister, a rather appropriate thought for this late winter hour, even if you don't have all the answers, show them your potential to uncover them...
"They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
a n d y w a r h o l

09 January 2009

"I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks."
w i n s t o n c h u r c h i l l

((image: photographer sabine weiss via carla loves photography))

08 January 2009

laughter and a view

the algerian asked me one day if i were an animal what kind would i like to be. i'd never considered that question but almost without hesitation answered 'a monkey' because they seem to have fun, they're silly and laugh all day ((well, at least, in my mind they do)). much later he showed me this picture that he had, i think his brother took it, of monkeys in algeria. they're not exactly laughing, but i don't know why, for some reason, they make me smile.

"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter."

e. e. c u m m i n g s

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him."

d a v i d b r i n k l e y

((image: photographer sabine weiss via carla loves photography))

in the book of life, the answers aren't in the back.
c h a r l i e b r o w n

"The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster."

o s c a r w i l d e

06 January 2009

turning on the brights

this is my first post from my shiny new macbook, fumbling around the keyboard as it glows beneath my fingertips...

my hard-working and very clever younger sister ((i like to refer to her as my 'little' sister though in reality she's much taller and far more mature than i will ever be..)) is in Southern California, half way into her inorganic biochemistry PhD and up for her orals in less than two weeks. though less than half of that last sentence makes any sense to me, i can sense the tension all the way from here, only attempting to grasp the pressure that is placed upon an individual in such a demanding circumstance.

i realize that nothing i can say will calm her nerves and that my words of inspiration seem inadequate, my gawking creative view of the world is simply incompatible with the calculated importance of this event, and thus, i'm left searching for words of encouragement from others, thoughts that seem to posess a meaning somehow relavant to both our worlds, and i'll be mailing, emailing and posting them from here on, though she may not even have enough time to read them, at least i will have sent them out into the universe and in some form or another they may reach her.

i'm sending her quotes for...well, inspiration sounds too romantacized, and sucess perhaps too forceful, i suppose really, these are quotes of strength, of courage, of gentle support, never trite but rather offering perspective to any of us, dedicated to doing what we feel we are meant to be doing, and against all odds and any measurable manifestations of contrived sucess, shining a hint of light onto a winding path, as we hope to better find our way there. despite the length of the road or, at times like this, a frightful inability to see even two feet infront of us.

today i found myself reading Emerson's essay Self-Reliance. i was marking up every page finding perspective and conviction in every word, every phrase....i could put the entire essay on here, but for the sake of everyone's time, i will put a condensed version, a best-of passages, if you will, of the very beginning..... more to come..

"There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion...

The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried."

"We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents...

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events."

and this one's for my sister, because i think that kinda looks like candy in a glass beaker...;))

x c

((these images are by the Californian artist Wayne Thiebaud, who years ago, was a dear friend of my great aunt))

03 January 2009

distant glow

Just realized that 3 January is the day my great aunt passed away....I believe it was 14 years ago. She was like a grandmother to me since her sister, my actual grandmother, passed away 10 days after I was born. She was this generous soul who still warms me when I think of her. I have a letter right here next to me, I keep it on my desk always, she sent it to me in the spring of her last year. Handwriting so familiar I can touch it and see her, hear her voice like a melody in the distance.

“I want to thank you for the letters you’ve sent me, mail is very special cause the days are kind of slow. So I really appreciate that you take the time to write. But more important the letters themselves – they are delightful, you have a real talent for writing and I hope you will develop it. Obviously you enjoy it because it shows. To be able to express yourself is great – but to be able to do it creatively and entertainingly is very special...”

Still by my side as I do what I love... You can see why I keep this beside me at all times on my desk! She always started her letters with “Hi Darlin” and ended with something like “Love- Love- Love-”

Not only does this continue to remind me of the importance of hand-on-pen-on-paper old-fashioned letter correspondence, ((a lost art that I single handedly, haha, try to keep alive)) but it gently whispers of how such a letter can touch us, fill a void, make the day go by faster every time we read it, again and again, no matter what age or season.

She encouraged me to write, to write more that just what school required, to appreciate the ease I found with words, and to do something...more. And every year she gave me a journal. It took a while for her words to sink in, and for me to hear them echo in the voices of others around me, until finally one day I realized that this was in fact something I was meant to do, somehow, somewhere, in my life. And now, I adore not merely writing, but inspiring others to write, working with children to teach them a love of words and expression, not merely the necessary elements, but the ones most important, found in between the lines.

I can’t fathom what she would’ve had to say about the concept of blogging or the internet, to know that what she had written that afternoon in May 1994, would in fact, one day grace the internet, and in a heartbeat, her words would, with ease, have the potential to touch all corners of the world. Funny how life can change and advance so rapidly, and then in moments we find ourselves right back there, in another day and time.

I have a sunflower candle that I gave her during that last year ((sunflowers were, like, soooo cool when I was that age ;)) and I light it on this day and feel the light of her generous spirit and the glow of her inspiration.



((image from angiecao.com photography))

02 January 2009

old words ring new

I didn’t intend on disappearing for so long, but seems I got swept away for a while. Spent the first day of the year with two good friends, even better conversation, bookstores and coffee...if that’s any indication for the new year, I just might keep turning the pages after all.


I’ve been reading old Arabic poetry with the Algerian, it’s really good stuff, the kind that rings as true today as it did when the words were first written around the year 800, ever relevant no matter where we find ourselves in this moment and the next. This one in particular I find an interesting thought for the new year...

Let not your tongue mention the shame of another
For you yourself are covered in shame and all men have tongues.
If your eye falls upon the sins of your brother
Shield them and say: 'O my eye! All men have eyes!'
لسانك لا تذكر به عورة امرئ *** فكلّـك عورات وللناس ألسـن
وعينك إن أبدت إليك معايباً *** فدعها وقل : يا عين للناس أعينُ

i m a m a s h – s h a f i ' i

more to come......
bonne année 2009 ♥ c