Friday, February 20, 2009

Alive From New York

But just barely.

It's not like me to whine and complain; at least not on the blog. But damn it, it's not been the best trip I've ever taken. I started out with an industrial strength headache just before we left, followed by....ta da...a UTI. And if you read this post from a few weeks back, you'll know that I struggle with these; have since I was nineteen and they aren't going away.

So here I am in New York and I need to put in a call to my doctor (whom I've not yet replaced), whose office never called me back. I called twice, in fact, and was told that The Doctor was busy with patients and had not yet found time to "review" my situation.

I then call the answering service and leave a message for the on-call doctor who promptly got back to me and was very helpful; calling in the prescription immediately to the Rite Aid around the corner on West 50th Street. Problem solved. Well, sort of. The headache came back and I'm now taking a load of Exedrin so we can take the subway to Brooklyn for my first visit to The Brooklyn Art Museum. I'd be more excited about that but every time I express enthusiasm, my head pounds ferociously. Ugh.

To top it all off, WP isn't in the best of moods either. He's perhaps fed up with my complaining which I do profusely under these circumstances. I mean, every chance I get, I'm mumbling under my breath "my freakin' head hurts". It's really selfish of me and not fair because he's done all he can to help me with this; including running to the pharmacy to get my pills.

We went to MoMA yesterday; mostly for WP's benefit, since I was there last summer but that was a business trip for him so he missed out on it. He loved it, so that was a bright spot. I also saw and photographed some things I'd either missed last time or they weren't there last time.

Being very emotional this time of the month, I cried when I looked at the two Frida Khalo paintings the MoMA has. The look of pain on her face was just too much for me to bear. One of those paintings was featured in the movie Frida with the stunning Selma Hayek as Frida. It's the self-portrait where Frida is sitting in a chair, wearing a man's suit, with her hair all chopped off. Cutting my hair very short has long been something that I've wanted to do. By short I a monk; like Sinead O'Connor; like Grace Jones. I don't want to scare The Adorables (my students) so I think I'll have to wait until I retire. But it's in my future.

Now that I've ranted on about illnesses and shaving my head...I'll leave you scratching yours. I'm revealing random things about myself that perhaps don't make much sense unless you are inside my head. But in some ways, you are. Because honestly, I tell you all more than I tell anyone except perhaps my daughters, who know me better than anyone. I'd be lost without them and it's becoming clear, lost without you, too.

Time to go. I'm looking forward to feeling better tonight for Indian food. Wish I hadn't forgotten the cord that connects the camera to the computer so that I could show you pictures. That will have to wait until I retern home on Saturday.

Stay strong and alert and safe and good. And because I feel naked unless I post a picture. Here is the one that made me cry. From 1940.


Pagan Sphinx

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Brief History of The Pagan Sphinx

It's been a year since I started The Pagan Sphinx and I've never truly discussed how I arrived at the name. So, what exactly, do Emily Dickinson and William Bouguereau have in common?

I've long thought of myself as a sort of pagan, in the sense that I tend by nature to be a person who doubts the existence of god but who does not discount it altogether. An agnostic you say? Perhaps. But that sounds sort of cold to me for some reason.

I have also long been a fan of Emily Dickinson. Not only of her poetry but of the woman herself; so much of whom is shrouded in mystery; with the exception of her poems and letters. One day, as I was doing a search on her poems and letters on the net, I came upon this article by Gary Sloan, from which I've copied the following passage:

Dickinson's enigmatic nature shrouds her evolution from Christian manqué to pagan. She had histrionic propensities that obscure the line between her true beliefs and those she feigned. Intermittently in her 1,775 poems and nearly 1,100 extant letters (many poems were incorporated into the letters), she struck poses and adopted personas. "When I state myself as the Representative of my verse," she told Higginson, "it does not mean me but a supposed person." In early professions of impiety, she had a penchant for hyperbole and self-dramatization that render her claims hard to evaluate. Later, an authentic infidel, she accommodated orthodox sensibilities. Long after she had chucked belief in a hereafter, she continued to quote promissory biblical verses to assure bereaved relatives and neighbors they would be reunited with their deceased loved ones. When she was herself bereaved, she accepted the ministrations of clergymen. She even solicited platitudes on immortality, plucking at a twig of evidence.

In essence, Emily doubted, as I do; as many of us do. And Professor Sloan: if you ever read this, I would like you to know how much I enjoyed your article and how what you wrote about Emily Dickinson has helped to enrich my appreciation of her. Because Emily Dickinson lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, which is practically my backyard, I have an even more special reverence for her persona(s), her work and her life. Visiting the Dickinson museum has become an annual Spring pilgrimage for me. I eargerly await April when the tulips in Emiy's garden (or so I like to pretend it's still her garden) are in full bloom.

That's the history of the title of The Pagan Sphinx. Then there is the matter of the blog header. I think of this painting by Beaugereau on several levels. Firstly, it's a beautiful painting. It's also playful, pagan-like and the all-time favorite of a once five year old SG1, who upon her second or so visit to its home, the Clark Art Institute, begged for the refrigerator magnet of the painting and insisted on taking it to school for show and tell one week. And that event, of course, was only slightly marred by the ridicicule of the other kindergartners. My very loving and lovely daughter recently said to me: "See, Mommy, I had a thing for curvy women, even back then!".

And this painting is huge. See the photo of the room where it hangs in the museaum; taken by yours truly. It is with regret that I never took pictures of my children on all the family visits we made there. But it's not too late. I am planning such a trip this summer, when both girls are done with school. In fact, SG1 will be a college graduate and spending time with her parents and sister before she heads off to Santa Barbara with her Beloved. Lots of pictures, I promise myself!

I've thought a few times of changing the blog header but I'm not ready. Just like SG1's inevitable moving on to a new life, I'm still hanging on. One day, when the time feels right, I may change it. Meanwhile, I'm still very much attached to it.

That, my friends, is a brief history of The Pagan Sphinx and those nude ladies dragging the naughty satyr into the pond. I swear, I could make up so many stories about that painting, were it not for the permanent writer's block...

Cake, Anyone?

Sherry said there had to be cake for my first bloggy-versary, so there must be cake! Have a slice of this beauty, which would be my favorite if I'd ever actually had a slice. I have had those Mozart Balls, though and if this is half as good, I'm in heaven

...a symphony of ultralight chocolate-hazelnut batter filled with exquisite pistachio marzipan and delicious nougat in soft chocolate icing will stay put in your memory just like the sounds of Mozart’s “Little Night Music” did...

Sounds good to me!

See you live from New York tomorrow!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It Breaks My Heart

I'm still on vacation! When I'm on vacation, my Lovely Man, WP always makes sure to indulge me in one way or another. Perhaps I'm easy to please, but when it's around 1:00 a.m. and I can't sleep, he senses that and invites me to watch a movie with him. I just love him so. Hold on a minute, I'm now going to interrupt his conference call to give him a hug. :-)

That was early this morning. We watched Robert Altman's Thieves Like Us. I must've been content after seeing Shelly Duval, one of my favorite actresses of that era, because I conked right out until about a half-hour ago. Bliss. To sleep until just after nine when ordinarily The Adorables (my little students) are sitting bleary-eyed before me as I tell them what day it is and what sorts of torture we have in store for them. For some reason, they keep coming back every day anyway. ;-)

This is supposed to be a post-Valentine's Day sort of tribute or ramble, or something. I'm really losing my way here. May I just put it plainly?

I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired of those mean-spirited, narrow-minded, fear-mongering, twisted people who are the force behind trying to brutally beat into the ground marriage equality in California. They won't do it here in Massachusetts because they wouldn't dare. We'd kick them out on their collective, pointy little ear.

Look at the happy face on my beautiful kid! How can anyone have the cruel heart to try to take that bond away from my daughter and daughter-in-law? For those of you who do not already know, they were married at San Francisco City Hall back in October, in the hope that Prop 8 would not pass. They currently live at college in Massachusetts, where marriage is legal. The couple, however, plan to move to California for graduate school, so it made sense for them to marry in California. After the passage of Prop 8, however, their union is uncertain. They're preparing themselves for inevitably seeking a domestic partnership instead.

I want to encourage you to visit Thorne's World, where I saw and borrowed this video to share with you. Thorne and her wife are dealing with the same issue as my daughter and daughter-in-law. And please meet Thorne - she'll make you laugh and cry and shake your fists; and you'll love every moment of it. I promise.

And to those people who have taken to wearing such huge boots to trample on the happiness of others: I'm Sick of You. (There's also an Iggy Pop song with the same title, but it was Lou Reed's song I was really thinkin' about.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

I've Been Blogging for a Year?

photo by the Pagan Sphinx

A photo to share with you.

A few people over at my photo blog, The Pagan's Eye, thought this might be a peace lily. Taken recently at Magic Wings, a local butterfly conservatory and garden.

Because I'm on vacation this week, it occurred to me that I'd started The Pagan Sphinx approximately a year ago. So scroll down I did and saw that my first post was on February 16. Safely after Valentine's Day. ;-) So I'm a bit late, as always. And as you may have guessed I'm not one for making a huge fanfare out of things. There will be no huge celebrations, no ticker tape parades and no cake. But I hope all week to add a nugget of specialness or two throughout.

So, please do come back and partake of whatever I dig up. Oh. WP and I will be going to New York City for three days and three nights. I can't ever contain myself before a trip to the city.! This a great time for us. It's no longer a joy to live in the country by the middle of February, it's our valentine to each other and it's also a celebration of the anniversary of our first coffee date five years ago. Who says life-time love can't go around twice?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Creative Blogger Awards & Other Froms of Bloggy Love

This thank you and acknowledgement is long overdue. A few weeks back, my blog friend and fellow Peace Tree blogger, Betmo nominated The Pagan Sphinx as a recipient of this lovely award. Betmo also has two blogs I follow: Life's Journey and Betmo's Corner. She is a tireless news hound - I find myself turning to Life's Journey if I really want to know what's going on from a real-life Leftist American Feminist Woman and all-around very cool and lovely person! And Betmo's Corner is like a little santuary in the frenzied blog world. I don't know if Betmo ever received this award herself but just in case, I'm re-giving it to her for fantastic haiku in the Little Sanctuary.

Thank you for your kindness and generosity, Bet!

I would in turn like to give the Creative Blogger Award to the following six people. All creative, intense, fascinating, beautiful people. Please give yourself a break from the pressures of life and blogging by visiting their sites to view their beautiful work.

Thorne from California, Carmi from London, Ontario (through The Pagan's Eye) and Soulbrush (also via The Pagan's Eye) from London, England, are new friends whose blogs I've been really enjoying a connection with. Keep up all your wonderfully create efforts, everyone!

Pagan Sphinx

Linda at Vulture Peak Muse (painting and photography)
Susan and co-blogger Crow at Phantsy That (painting, jewelry and fabric art and writing)
Steve at Color Sweet Tooth (painting other creative forces)
Thorne at Thorne's World (writing, photography, tatoo art)
Soul at Soulbrush (painting)
Carmi at Written, Inc. (photography and writing)
Betmo at Betmo's Corner (poetry)

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"When the Amherst sphinx styled herself a pagan, she meant she didn’t believe in the biblical God. What sort of deity, if any, she did believe in is hard to pinpoint."
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