Friday, December 07, 2018

layers of history

while in istanbul a few weeks ago, i visited the ayasofya. it must be one of the most magnificent human made structures in the world. built by justinian starting in 532, it has stood stoically through regimes and wars and earthquakes and fires, shifting religions and rises and falls of empires. it remains, implacable, its scars visible, but none able to mar its beauty.

the layers of its history are there to be seen - mosaics of kings and saints side by side with enormous quotes from the quran in arabic. tiles on the floor that saw the coronation of emperors and sultans. stone staircases worn smooth by the feet that trod on them for millennia.

we got in at the very end of the day, so there weren't many people. it was quiet and monumental. and in the quiet it felt like if you listened hard enough, you could hear the whispers of the stories that vast, ancient place had seen - the multitude of voices which had passed through, the games played, palace intrigues conducted, prayers said, speeches and sermons proclaimed. all of those stories whispering from the walls. i wanted to hide in some corner and stay after closing, to hear them all...

* * *

i'm so sad - andrei bitov is dead. 
i wrote my master's thesis on pushkin house and
had i finished my Ph.D., i would have written on his work.
but 81 is no bad age. my dad nearly made it there as well.
and today he would have been 85.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

the body knows

i've been sick all week. fever. headache. ringing ears. persistent cough. it's that time of year, but also surely my body saying "enough!" i haven't been that happy at work of late. my wonderful boss left. what's left of our department has been tossed to and fro across the organization, used as pawns in political game-playing, for more than a year now. we've landed with a manager we were told was interim, but who is looking more and more permanent and who hasn't, shall we say...settled into the role as of yet. even tho' it's been six months. good colleagues are fleeing. there's too much work and too little appreciation. and come january, there is micromanagement on the horizon. and i think that my body took a look at all of this and said, "you need some rest honey. you need to snuggle under the covers with netflix and a kitten and get some rest. you need to stop worrying about things you can't change or control and get right in yourself. and if it takes giving you a temperature of 39.6 for two days, followed by slowly ramping down to almost normal as of today, then so be it young lady." my body still thinks i'm a young lady, you see. and my body knows me and what i need. but it also knows that i don't listen to it very well, so this time, it took extreme measures, and i listened. and i'm starting to feel better.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

making my way through the fog

we have the most beautiful, long, strangely warmish autumn this year. since my dear bloggy and real life friend, cyndy, died, i've found myself consciously paying more attention to the beauty of the world around me and stopping to appreciate it. i've been pulling the car over and carrying a real camera with me again, rather than only relying on my iPhone (tho' that camera is pretty good these days).  the other day, the camera actually had a hard time finding focus in the fog, but i liked the shot anyway. it kind of conveys my life of late - the path ahead is a bit foggy and uncertain. things are a bit in turmoil at work, with multiple reorgs over the past year that have bounced our department all over the organisation, landing it finally in a strange place where it doesn't really fit. it's draining. i'm a person who can tolerate a high level of uncertainty, but being tossed all over the organization and not really feeling as if all the work you do is particularly appreciated takes its toll after more than a year. so, i've been feeling a bit like i'm not sure what's next. do you wait for things to get better or do you seize other opportunities? i'm doing a little bit of both at the moment. the actual work i do is wonderful and engaging and i get to work with some amazing photographers and filmmakers and tell great stories and that's been keeping me going. i've also been seizing every opportunity i can of late to travel and it helps to be away from the cramped, dark space we've been been banished to in another building since just after the summer holiday. i've really come to realize how important your workspace is to your satisfaction at work. and how important it is to have enough space around you and not feel like the desks are all crammed together. we've very crowded now and when people are on the phone, it's completely impossible to get any work done. i find myself dreading going to the office these days and i never felt that way before. your surroundings just matter so much. and so, i travel all i can. this week, it's berlin and istanbul. and i can't wait!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

venice for the first time

sparkles in the water. sunshine. a winding maze of streets. earthy tones, laundry on lines hanging overhead. gondolas. glass. coffee. pasta. buffalo mozzarella. bacalao. art, architecture. canals. dead ends. did i mention the sunshine?

venice is spellbinding in its beauty. it's been there so long, you feel it resting in itself, rather oblivious to the hordes of tourists. and yet still overrun by them. there's no escape really. i myself was acutely aware of the excess noise my suitcase made as i wheeled through the ancient pavement towards my hotel. i wanted to be quieter, more gentle than that. to step lightly, and i did, after stowing my bag at the hotel.

once again, i had that sense of awe in the face of the first time. this was it - my one and only first time visiting venice. i may go back, but that will be with this experience under my belt. i'll never see it again as a venice virgin. i'll never feel the duality of the weight and the lightness of that experience again in exactly the same way. and i did my best to be conscious of it. to look around, observe, enjoy, savor, bask. there is so much beauty, so much history, so much awesome coffee. i tried to just take it all in and just BE in it, no filtering, and no processing, just enjoying. i think that for a change, i was able to do that.

and on that cloudless autumn day, venice must have been at her very best and it made me feel that i was too.  what an amazing experience it was.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

5-4-3-2-1 method

still reading and rereading that nytimes piece on being kind to yourself.  i haven't been particularly kind to myself of late, so i'm eager to figure out how to do so. according to the article, there's a 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 method, which involves naming five things you can see in a room, four things you can hear in the room, three things you can touch or feel, two things you can smell and one good quality about yourself. so here goes...

5 - starbucks cups full of colorful sharpies, my cameras, a flock of unikitties, original art by people whose work i love, a photo of my father-in-law beside a drawing of him that husband did at age 9
4 - it's nearly 2 a.m., so i can hear husband snoring, my own fingers on the keyboard, my ears ringing and silence
3 - i can feel the touch of my fingers on the keyboard, the scratchiness of the wool fabric on the chair and the softness of the lambs wool pelt that's also on my chair
2 - i can smell the fragrance of the shampoo i just used in my shower and if i'm honest, the nagging odor of a litterbox that needs to be changed
1 - i am self-reflective, even if i don't always give myself the right message.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

goodbye dear friend

i've been home sick. after all the travel in recent weeks, i have ended up with a head cold, slight fever and general aches. i think it was my body's way of telling me i needed to take a moment to slow down. the weather was blustery and there were squalls of rain off and on all day. but just before 6:30 p.m., i was sitting at my desk and the sun came out in a full blaze of glory. it exposed all those spider webs that have accumulated on the window, but even so, it was warm, golden and welcome. i turned my face towards it and basked for a few minutes. a few hours later i learned that our dear old friend cyndy was finally released from the bonds of her cancer, at right about that time. and i can't help but think that the beautiful, welcome, golden light was her, finally coming over to see me here in the falling down farmhouse. and it didn't feel so much like goodbye as hello. thank you for the light cyndy, i am sure you have found it. it was a privilege to know you and be touched by your enthusiasm, your words, your thoughtfulness and your kindness. godspeed.

Friday, September 28, 2018

be kind to yourself

the new york times told me to be kind myself today. i'm not sure i've done that or that i even know how. instead, i bucked up my chin, packed up my laptop and headed for the library and a decent internet connection and i worked. i pushed aside everything that yesterday brought up in me, including those things which i had suppressed and made myself forget. i've not articulated them to a soul since 1991, so it's a bit hard to know where to begin now. i need to find a space to whisper them out loud to myself. and that's a bigger step than we might imagine. the courage of ms. blasey ford yesterday was incomprehensible. i have no idea how she summoned it. and no idea how to feel if it was all for nought.