Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

…the universe squeezed into a ball…” (T.S. Eliot)

November 19, 2012

or…HOW I ELONGATED MY WEEKEND…

(all that’s missing, above, is the easel)

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FRIDAY through MONDAY

 HIGH POINTS

What a joy having FOUR whole days off from work in a row!

Away from the office FRIDAY, SATURDAY and SUNDAY is wonderful enough, yes.

But — waking up on MONDAY, with the knowledge that all the other employees in your section of the office are reporting to work and YOU ARE NOT — is beyond wonderful.

During this particular FOUR-DAY weekend, quality time was on the agenda.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

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I finished the painting I’ve been working on!

Maelstrom

(apologies for the grainy iPhone photo)

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Practiced Schumann’s Remembrance on the piano  (a small piece I’ve always liked; I’m determined to learn and memorize it).

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Woke up early and drove to the Jericho Cider Mill on Long Island; stocked up on all things apple: Cameo apples (my favorite), apple cider, apple sauce; apple turnovers; apple oat bran muffins…

Apple Nirvana

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I found a THURSDAY parking spot (which means we won’t have to move the car until one week after Thanksgiving)!

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I read the essay on T. S. Eliot by Mark Ford from the New York Review of Books that I had dog-eared a month ago and set aside for a later date.

Facts I learned from this detailed, erudite review of The Letters of T.S. Eliot (3 volumes) by Valerie Eliot (Eliot’s widow):

  • Eliot was born into a comfortable, Unitarian family in St. Louis, MO and summered with them in East Gloucester.
  • An anglophile, he moved to England and readily acquired an accent. He became more “English” than the English. He  joined the Anglican church and eventually became a citizen.
  • He was born under the sign of Libra, went to Oxford, studied philosophy and Sanskrit, taught at Harvard.
  • Eliot was a virgin when he married his first wife, Vivienne, after knowing her for just a couple of months.
  • Vivienne suffered from mood swings. She was diagnosed with a “hormonal imbalance” (parlance of the day for what resembled bipolar disorder) and endured a host of physical problems; i.e. “female problems” (another euphemism).
  • Vivienne lived on a trust fund endowed by her wealthy family, over which Eliot would later assume governance.
  • Virginia Woolf once called Vivienne “a bag of ferrets.”
  • Ezra Pound was a friend of Eliot’s and was instrumental in launching his career as a poet.
  • Bertrand Russell, also a friend, lent the newlyweds one of his flats and was rumored to have had an affair with Vivienne.
  • Poetry notwithstanding, Eliot was encouraged by his father-in-law to take a position in a bank.
  • In one of his letters, Eliot describes what it was like working in the bank:

“I hope to become less of a machine–but yet I am frightened–because I don’t know what it will do to me–and to V.–should I come alive again. I have deliberately killed my senses–I have deliberately died–in order to go on with the outward form of living–What will happen if I live again?…Have I the right to be I–But the dilemma–to kill another person by being dead, or to kill them by being alive? Is it best to make oneself a machine, and kill them by not giving nourishment, or to be alive, and kill them by wanting something that one cannot get from that person?”

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  • The misery of Eliot’s bank job produced these lines:

He didn’t know if he was alive / and the girl was dead

He didn’t know if the girl was alive / and he was dead

He didn’t know if they both were alive / or both were dead

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  • The opportunity in hand, the next logical step was to re-watch the film, Tom and Viv. Which I did.

I first saw the film in the mid-1990’s when it was released. With Willem DeFoe, Miranda Richardson and Rosemary Harris, it’s a gorgeous film. The character of Ezra Pound is noticeably absent (perhaps because he was an anti-semite). But the film includes Bertrand Russell (an extramarital affair, or the allusion to one, naturally being a more juicy topic).

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  • To complete my experience of total T. S. Eliot immersion, I pulled from the bookshelf my marked up college edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and re-read The Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

As I contemplate (dread, more like) returning to work tomorrow, these lines stand out:

“And indeed there will be time

To wonder, ‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’

Time to turn back and descend the stair…”

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I’ve made a promise to myself that, one day, I will dare.

But in my case, my descent will take place in the elevator — and I’ll be eating that peach.

A Walk in the Park

November 23, 2011

Thursday was my favorite kind of autumn day. Chilly, overcast, not windy, on the brink of rain but holding fast.

A perfect lunch hour for a Woody Allen movie moment — remember that scene from Hannah and Her Sisters, when Woody and Dianne Wiest share an intimate stroll down a winding path in Central Park amidst a panorama of vibrant autumn leaves  — or in Another Woman, when Gena Rowlands and Martha Plimpton hash out relationship issues on, yes, a stroll in autumnal Central Park — or in Manhattan, when Diane Keaton and Woody are caught in a thunderstorm and escape into the Museum of Natural History (in Central Park)?

So there I was, soaking it all up, having my quintessential New York experience in the park.

Because the day was an out-of-towner’s (and many a New Yorker’s) version of nasty, the park was serendipitously empty of people. A rare occurrence, usually encountered only in the depth of winter.

Although I did glimpse a couple of diehards like myself, shown below, who were seated in the park’s version of a penthouse apartment:

(Click on any photo for a larger view)

If only I could have strolled through the park all day long. Equipped as I generally am, with an umbrella — these days, I’m hardly ever without it — I do love the rain. If my coworkers complain about it, as they usually do (in all fairness, commuting in the rain can be a bitch, with train delays, no fresh air on the platform, flooding and throngs of people), I’ll nod as if I agree.

But, secretly, I don’t.

I’m in the park so often, working in an office located diagonally across the street, yet I never fail to come across something new, something I’ve somehow missed before, usually due to over-crowding.

On Thursday, what I discovered were these little metal placards inscribed with personal messages that were attached to many of the benches. Here are some samples:

I love this one — it’s so New York:

And this one — I can picture a quintet of girlfriends meeting up once a week for a chat and a laugh:

And this touching message of friendship:

Of course, The Donald’s name is on a bench (his name is plastered all over the city):

This one tugged at my heart:

I love this message:

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I remembered a photo (below), taken in Oak Creek Canyon, AZ, located midway between Flagstaff and Sedona, where J.C. and I spent a lovely and peaceful Thanksgiving in 2008 — without T.V., internet, radio, or cell service. A picture window in our cabin, which was nestled in a canyon of majestic red rocks, overlooked a rushing river, a forest of pine trees and a small waterfall.

On Thanksgiving day, it snowed. Absolute bliss.

We listened to music on our iPod player, read books and sat by the fireplace (our only means of heat, which J.C. fed with his frequent trips to the woodshed. He tended to the fire assiduously, just like Paw in Little House on the Prairie or Davy Crockett).

I didn’t know he had it in him. Isn’t it funny how you can discover something new about someone you’ve been married to for more than 11 years.  Once, he fixed a faucet in the bathroom and I was astounded. Who knew he could do that? It stands to reason, if you can take apart a MacIntosh computer and put it back together again, you can fix the sink!

I suppose that’s what keep relationships fresh. Newness and discovery. Woody Allen said it best in Annie Hall: “A relationship, I think, is like a shark. It has to keep moving forward or it dies.” So far, we’re a Great White.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.