Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The end of this year

Last week, Steve, Zoe and I went to visit our friends Emily and Len at their beautiful country home outside of Honesdale, Pennsylvania for Christmas. It was relaxing and we cooked some great meals (I was a sous chef and did clean up.) I didn't think about work or money or the future for those five days. I read and took walks and enjoyed nature. Len is the only person I know who can tell me jokes and really make me laugh. He used to have a comedy radio show and his timing is impeccable.

It's hard to know what to say about a year that has brought us a major economic downtown, an historic election, Sarah Palin, a despicable sociopath named Bernard Madoff and the end of eight long years of the worst administration in our lifetime.

Goodbye, so long, adios.

I am hopeful that 2009 will be a better year for everyone.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Our human situation (the three marks of existence)"

I've been carrying around a collection of Pema Chodron's writings and today I read this, which comes from "The Places That Scare You."

"The Buddha taught that there are three principal characteristics of human experience: impermanence, egolessness and suffering (or dissatisfaction.) The lives of all beings are marked by these three qualities. Recognizing these qualities to be real and true in our own experience helps us to relax with things as they are.

I feel gratitude to the Buddha for pointing out that what we struggle against all our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Life does continually go up and down. People and situations are unpredictable and so is everything else. Everybody knows the pain of getting what we don't want: sinners, saints, winners, losers. I feel gratitude that someone saw the truth and pointed out that we don't suffer this kind of pain because of our personal inability to get things right.

When I begin to doubt that I have what it takes to present with impermanence, egolessness and suffering, it uplifts me to remember that there is no cure for the facts of life. This teaching on the three marks of existence can motivate us to stop struggling, against the nature of reality. We can stop harming others and ourselves in our efforts to escape the alternation of pleasure and pain. We can relax and be fully present for our lives."

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow day - Fort Greene Park

Slumdog Millionaire

Okay, I've seen a lot of the films that are coming out now - and I really enjoyed many of them - but as my friend Jim said a few posts ago, go see "Slumdog Milionaire." It's fantastic. It is probably my favorite film of the year. A must see. Danny Boyle did a brilliant job directing. Great actors, young kids and some Bollywood stars. It's based on a novel and it's amazing because Danny Boyle had never been to India before the filming. He really captured the city of Mumbai and India. It's an interesting mix of realism, fantasy, and probably some other genres that I can't think of now.

If you haven't seen it yet, definitely put it on the top of your list.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A perfect rainy day

So even though it poured all day (and continues to pour all night) I managed to enjoy the day. "Last Chance Harvey" was the screening I went to. Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson were both lovely, a perfect rainy day film.

I wish I had a clue what I'm going to do next though. It's great having screenings to go to, but everything feels so unsettled now. I picked up a small book of Pema Chodron's writings to carry with me. And I read a really sad and beautiful piece in the New Yorker by Roger Rosenblatt called "Making Toast" about the death of his daughter. She was in her thirties and left three young children and her husband. Rosenblatt and his wife moved in with their son-in-law to help out with the kids. The piece is very moving. It's also on line on the New Yorker website.

Steve has his big presentation tomorrow in Jerez, Spain. He's curating a photography show (along with a few films) about the gypsies in Spain during the late 60's and he will be speaking about the project. Here is a link to the website:


Ain't no sunshine

I have nothing much to say today except that we haven't seen the sun in what? Five days? If I lived in Seattle I would slit my wrists. December, January, February, I hate them all. Okay, December isn't so bad because I like all the Christmas decorations, but right now it does seem as if the news is just constantly crazy and terrible (a governor SELLING a Senate seat?) Unemployment keeps going up, government bailouts to the tune of billions and billions. Even our broker said the word "depression."

The morning is the worst time for me. Today was no exception. And my ipod broke two nights ago and I feel lost without it, so I'm heading over to Tech Serve to get it fixed.

I went to the Writers' Guild Christmas party Tuesday night and it was also fairly gloomy. Last year it was at the Friar's Club, which is a fantastic place. It was so crowded and everyone needed to party, because we were on strike. This year, I showed up in a teal sequined top (sooooo unlike me) and I felt like a Christmas tree compared to everyone there. And truthfully, I wanted to leave after ten minutes. But then a woman named Chi Chi, who was wearing a red sweater with a large sparkly pin and a lovely black beret said to me, "You look so hot in that fabulous top!!" And I realized I did look pretty good and rather than fading into the background, I put myself out there...which was extremely uncomfortable but also interesting. Chi Chi was there with a lovely young writer who had won three Emmys for writing for Chris Rock (she told us that, not him) and we had a fun conversation.

So at your next holiday party, I recommend showing up dressed like part of the decorations. It may brighten everyone's spirits.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Later on, a bumpy day

Didn't have a great day. Lucy is sick (our older dog) and she has been peeing in our loft. I'm worried about her, and work, and money, and pretty much everything. Damn, I hate this feeling. I was doing pretty well there for a couple of weeks.

It will pass.

Here today

Monday morning, for the past three years I've been dreading Mondays. I've also been fearing depression, especially as we come close to winter.

I guess you would call that not being in the moment. This morning I re-read another chapter in "When Things Fall Apart" by Pema Chodron and read this paragraph: "The essence of life is that it's challenging. Sometimes it's sweet, and sometimes it's bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about this approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.... To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. .... To live is to be willing to die over and over again."

I was walking the dogs in the park this morning and now all the leaves are off the trees. It felt like a kind of death, when I looked around. I generally hate this time of year, but for some reason I am enjoying it, even though last night it was windy and cold and I didn't have enough layers on. Listening to my ipod while I race home from the subway at night helps me to move quickly and not mind the cold so much. What did we do before such inventions?

Anyway, I wish for you a day with a few bumps.

Oh - one more thing. I'm rehearsing for a song we are singing at our final Mama Gena weekend, which is this coming weekend. My group (eight of us) are singing "Mamma Mia" but with new lyrics "Mama Gena." It should be really fun. We're all wearing blond wigs and I'll try to post a photo of our group in our costumes. (Although we're not exactly sure what they will be - lots of sequins I think.) Learning the lyrics has been challenging. I'm generally either walking with the ipod, singing to myself (or out loud if I'm in a park) or on the subway singing softly. Zoe's tired of hearing me, so I try to limit how often I sing at home. Singing and dancing are two activities that bring me great pleasure. I recommend them. Take a dance break today!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dear Barack

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Your address today about creating jobs and basically overhauling the government makes me want to weep with joy. How did we survive these eight long years of darkness? Okay, granted, you're not Superman or Spiderman or any super hero, but you're on the right track.

My beagle Lucy (see above) would have been a better President than Bush. (I would have been telling her what to do.)

I am so grateful. Forty-five more days till Obama takes office. Hallelujah.

Revolutionary Road and more

I just saw "Revolutionary Road" with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslett, another really fantastic film. God, what do they do? Put out crap all year and then the last month hit us with their best stuff? This one is also really powerful and they are both superb actors. It was beautifully directed by Sam Mendes.

Last night I watched a favorite old movie from 1979, "Starting Over" with Burt Reynolds, Jill Clayburgh, Candace Bergen and Charles Durning. It really held up, scenes that were so memorable, like the Bloomingdale's scene where Burt has an anxiety attack and they ask people in the store if they have a Valium and everyone digs through their purses, are still so funny. James L. Brooks wrote the script and Alan Pakula directed it.

And tonight "Annie Hall" was on Channel 13 and I just had to watch it. Again. I've seen it at least 89 times...and I still love it.

Off the topic of films, didn't you just feel justice was served when O.J. stood in court whining his apology yesterday? And the judge said, "I am not taking into account anything other than this trial and you were found guilty by the jury. Therefore you are sentenced to nine years to whatever in jail." Thank you God and Goddesses. There is justice, karma, whatever the fuck you want to call it. He'll probably get out in a couple of years, but at least he is finally going to jail. I am sorry for his kids, they have had difficult lives.

Also, really great article in this past week's New Yorker (the one with the cover of Obama interviewing dogs - and may I add, a beagle is featured prominently) - about Naomi Klein. My friend saw her speak the other day up in Westport and I have to read her book "The Shock Doctrine." I do think that we have been in a collective coma since 9/11 and have allowed this government and others, and corporations all over the world to do whatever the hell they wanted to, without us literally revolting. Maybe we've finally woken up.

I do appreciate the fact that most of the really excellent films that are coming out at the end of the year have political themes.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A few more reasons

Yesterday I wrote that I've been feeling happy lately and I'm not sure why. Last night, I went to a screening of "The Reader" with Kate Winslett (who was phenomenal) and Ralph Feinnes, who was also wonderful, but is so handsome that it's hard to stop looking at his face and thinking, wow, do you look in the mirror everyday while you shave and think "Shit, I am stunning." And I love that he was involved with Francesca Annis, who was something like twenty years older than him. I saw him once in a store in SoHo (which is long gone) buying a beautiful cashmere robe, or something like that, for a woman. I presume it was for Francesca.

Then last night, I saw Ralph Feinnes on something...some show and he appeared to have either shaved his head or was bald. I wonder if he was wearing a toupee in the film? In any case, he didn't look quite so hot. And this is another reason why I hate real life.

Anyway, the point of this is lately I have seen one good movie after another: "Doubt" -"Frost/Nixon" - "Milk" and now "The Reader." And at all these screenings the filmmakers have been there to speak and that is also really fascinating. Last night David Hare, who adapted the novel, spoke. I've also seen several great films on Netflix, "Dangerous Beauty," "Sense and Sensibility," that film about the chorus of people over 80 (can't remember the name).

Also, being here with just Zoe while Steve is away is kind of a nice vacation. And he's having a great time in Spain, preparing for his presentation on December 12th.

And once again, I can only say how happy I am that George and Laura are beginning to pack up their belongings and head to Dallas. Well, their servants are packing.

This week we had to endure more Sarah Palin sitings, but hopefully, she'll stay up in Alaska for at least a couple of years. Until her book comes out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No reason

I am feeling quite happy these days and there aren't many reasons I can cite for this. The world is a (fucking) mess. Obama and his new team have their work cut out for them. I have no income stream and I don't know when I will or where it will come from. Several friends are struggling too, looking for work, having lost their jobs or their businesses in this horrible economy. Mumbai suffered horrible attacks recently and something like 170 people were killed. I did read about some incredible acts of bravery that occurred and that inspired me.

Maybe I feel happy because we only have about six weeks left with Bush and Cheney in office. That is one excellent reason to celebrate. Whoo hoo! We may never have to endure another Bush speech. Ever. How thrilling is that?

Maybe it's because it feels like we are all in this together, everyone is holding their breath to see what will happen in the coming year. We all have something to worry about: jobs, parents, money, illness, kids, the economy, the new administration, the environment. It's all so bad, so dire, that all we can do is made a decision to feel hopeful.

Or maybe I feel happy because Calvin Trillin was on Jon Stewart last night and he makes me feel happy. He lost his beloved wife, Alice, and he didn't look particularly happy to be on television, but he goes on. (TV and with life.)

Or maybe it's because the weather is beautiful and winter hasn't started yet. That's a good enough reason.