Saturday, December 29, 2007
Dear Friends and Family,
In thinking about the very New Year that is almost upon us, I can't help but reflect on the old year I am leaving behind. I wanted to send a card, or somehow express in words what a year this has been for me, but I am having a hard time capturing it on paper. Thus, I decided to let my pictures tell you the tale of my year. I have just updated my photography blog with the "Best of 2007" photos. I would love for you to take a look, that way you can see how the cultures of the world continue to enchant and change me, the people of the world continue to delight and impress me, and the spirit of the world continues to challenge and encourage me.
Happy New Year.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I get to see my niece every weekend and every time she comes to see me she has learned a new word. I never know what the word is going to be until she just blurts it out and I applaud and praise and adore! So today I started to read her a book and as I said something fascinating she said, "Wow!" and I thought...awesome! It surprised me and it flattered my reading skills. Every thing I showed her the rest of the day she just looked at me and said, "Wow!" "Wow!" and I don't know if it should have but it boosted me self-esteem and made me take time to consider the wowness of life. There is a wonder in "Wow!"
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Benazir Bhutto challenged the extremists and terrorists among us and paid for it with her life. The question is: Is there anyone else among the Pakistani politicians who can stand up to them and make the fight against extremist elements as a top priority?
Read about how Bhutto's assassination is affecting Pakistan at Frank's blog.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Dear Dickens...how do I love thee, let me count the ways through your timeless lessons.
1. He laments “Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me!”.
2."There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."
3. And it was a very uncommon kind of torch, for once or twice when there were angry words between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored directly. For they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas Day. And so it was! God love it, so it was!
4. "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!"
5. "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach."
6. "I don't know what to do!" cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoön of himself with his stockings. "I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-boy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy New Year to all the world! Hallo here! Whoop! Hallo!"
7. "But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round -- apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that -- as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!'"
8. He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
Sunday, December 23, 2007
A True Gap Ad
Alley is King of the World!
For Someone working on becoming a trueblue photographer, it's all about taking photos, all the time, especially when the nieces and nephews come to make cookies. Here are a few of the winning shots, you can see them all at my photography blog here.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
There is something quite delightful and Christmasy about getting unexpected gifts...when least expected. For the past two days I have been surprised with a cup of cocoa when I most needed it. Yesterday was full of business, lack of food, abundance of stress, political thoughts even though I tried not to think them, itchy sweater, spotted glasses that won't come clean, accidently listening to NPR when I forgot I promised myself not to, students not doing their work, parents blaming me for their students not doing their work, ugly hair, no make-up, listening to Modern English and having no one to "melt with", no clean clothes to wear, new computer equipment to figure out, no money, not completing any Christmas shopping, unfinished articles to write....and then in walks a ray of sunshine with a Hot Cocoa with MARSHMALLOWS and a rice crispie treat, just for me. It's been a long time since someone did something that sweet just for me.
I thought today would be better....and it was exactly the same, even down to the itchy sweater (a different one, I need to stop buying wool)...again I listened to NPR and it was all about sweatshops and child labor and the GAP and Wal-Mart and I had more students not do their work and more people blame me and I felt like I missed my calling as a secloistered (or is it sequestered?) Catholic nun, when yet again...an unexpected cup of hot cocoa magically appeared from Santa's Little Helper.
So to that person, dear friend, I thank you. You've made a huge difference in my week.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
That's right three things helped me get warmed by the Spirit of Christmas. I feel all cozy and soft inside (the softness may be from the sugar cookies), but nevertheless...It's like I am wrapped in a big pair of fuzzy socks made by a little Russian grandma...
The things that have helped me chill out:
1. I will not read The Economist, The New York Times, The L.A. Times, listen to NPR, or do anything else political until January 2.
2. My three year old nephew leaned over to me last night as we were looking at the glowing tree and whispered, "Aunt D'Arce, did you know Santa is magic?"
3. Bruce Willis--you heard right!
Bruce and I go way back to 1988--when my father took me to see Die Hard during the Christmas season, I was 11 years old, and many of you may judge my father harshly for doing that, but I can't thank him enough. Every Die Hard since has been a daddy-daughter date and we have never been disappointed. It's the perfect Christmas movie. Many of you may think--What about Little Women, what about Rudolph, what about The Christmas Story (that's the perfect Thanksgiving movie by the way), what about....but you're wrong. It's Bruce all the way. I watched Die Hard last night, and I watched Die Harder today...and I haven't felt the joys of the season like I do when I see the faulty gun logistics, Bruce's ever changing hair lines and tank tops, the absolutely unbelievable and impossible stunts, his wife's ratted hair and blue eyeshadow, Alan Rickman as only Alan Rickman can be....ahh, makes you want hot cocoa, doesn't it?
And so, my gift to you, a quote from Die Hard:
Hans Gruber: Mr. Mystery Guest? Are you still there?
John McClane: Yeah, I'm still here. Unless you wanna open the front door for me.
Hans Gruber: Uh, no I'm afraid not. But you have me at a loss. You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?
John McClane: Was always kinda partial to Roy Rogers actually. I really dig those sequined shirts.
Hans Gruber: Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr. Cowboy?
John McClane: Yippee-ki-yay, #$@!&*.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I am sitting here in my office with the 10 minutes of free thinking time I have allowed myself today (the rest of my time spent grading and grading and grading and teaching with more grading...) and all I can think of is that I really don't like Putin. I don't like his shiny head, I don't like his politics, I don't like how good of friends he was with Yelsten (although I do like the furry hat Yeltsen was always wearing around, I needed one of those today...), and I really don't like his name-- it reminds me of the German "Putsch" and then I think of Beer Halls, and then Hitler and then other coup d'etats....yikes!!!!!
Will someone please help me get in the Christmas Spirit!?!?
Honestly, the weight of the world somehow is weighing me down this season....I never really feel and smell the delights of pine until I only have 3 days left to enjoy the wafting scents!
So, I have decided to adopt Madeline's view of life: "And to the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said 'Poo! Poo!'"
So here goes-- "Poo!!! Poo! to YOU, Putin!!"
However, thinking of Putin inevitably leads me to ponderings of Pushkin--and that vernacular makes me happy!
Also, I have a public relations gig tonight that I am taking pictures for...it's so "Samantha Jones" ish that I can almost hear 5th Avenue.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Saturday, December 1, 2007
If you're expecting a saccharin blog about the scent of pine, the wet dryness of snow, the sound of sleigh bells and the cheery warmth of cocoa, check back on a day that is not a Saturday. For, on Saturday mornings I reclaim my political mind and read all morning long, then I become full of upsets and understandings and nonunderstandings and I don't know where else to put it but here. I was much sweeter on Tuesday when I wasn't worrying too much yet about the Annapolis meeting and I saw my first real Christmas tree...if you like midweek D'Arcy, check back on the 5th of December. Saturday D'Arcy is a-swirl with decisions.
The FIRST being: should I break out of the bell jar? Should you?
The SECOND being: why is some blood precious and some blood cheap?
Inside my bell jar, it's cozy and warm, I am having so much fun, and such delights and fancies and dreams that often the jar gets foggy and I don't clearly see what is outside my happy, cinnamon-spice smelling jar. Sometimes on a quiet Saturday morning I'll rub a small little circle on the glass of my jar and I'll take a look out. I'll see horrible things going on! I'll be irate, I'll get angry, I'll yell at myself to start hammering away at my jar, break it open and go out and help the masses. But I know that the toxins awaiting would probably kill me, I realize I am just one person and what can I really do, I'll see that I am different from the people suffering out there. They don't look like white/blond me, they don't speak English....in fact, many times I don't see them at all, because I don't look out of the jar...
Instead I watch the TV and here is what I see. I see Americans weeping, Americans recovering, Americans cheering, Americans praying. Just when I need more information about the outside world, and I turn to my trusted media to get it, I continually see myself reflected back to me, again and again...over and over. Thus I try to find an answer to the war in Iraq...and I think, maybe we should be there because look at all the American lives lost, could more lives be lost, could pulling out now be the worst thing Americans could ever do?
I watch the TV and I am told about Dancing with the Stars instead of the devastating effects of economic sanctions on Iraqi children. I pity poor Britney instead of realizing the role the CIA had played in financing the Mujahedeen warriors. And I realize what many are realizing "America is at war against a people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV."
Christopher Isherwood once wrote about Americans, saying, "The Europeans hate us because we've retired to live inside our advertisements, like hermits going into caves to contemplate." Could this retreat into a "self-referential media cocoon" have just some small part in explaining why the terrorist attacks on our country, which have caused so must disorientation and dislocation, seemed not just to come from another country, but almost another world, a parallel universe?
But, did the media take us back to fill in this gap of knowledge? This gap of information or analysis, this gap of understanding?
Or are you realizing, as I am, that Americans (including and specifically the next generation, who I teach grammar to) simply continue to listen to a song where the chorus repeats again and again....this came out of nowhere, it is inexplicable, it has no past. "They" hate us. "They" want to take away our democracies, our liberties, our stuff. Instead of asking why the attacks happened, our television networks simply played them over and over again.
Teaching us what?
That some blood is more precious than other blood?
That our country participates in a process that confirms and reconfirms the idea that some blood is precious and some is cheap?
That death and murder are tragic, extraordinary, and intolerable in some places (our soil, our people) but banal, ordinary, unavoidable, and even expected in others? That our newspaper would rather print a story about three Americans being killed in a tornado than about 114 people in Afghanistan being killed in a bomb attack?
Today I guess I am tired of some lives being presented in Technicolor, and some lives being presented in shades of grey.
I feel tired of some events being declared "tragedy" and some events being shrugged at as "ordinary."
For the war in Iraq, are we simply content to let the statistics be telling the story?
I guess if we truly rubbed the surface of the Bell Jar clean and saw the whole picture outside then warfare wouldn't be so much like playing a video game. If the Defense Department (which has to approve every image shown on U.S. Television, and thus the reason we probably don't know what most of the children look like right now in Iraq) actually showed us the people instead of the stereotype, then I guess that would mean that in a small way the death and destruction in Iraq would begin to take on the same sort of reality and humanity as the deaths in New York and Washington. We would have to confront actual people instead of a sterile video game.
For my last political rant click here.