Sunday, October 23, 2011

Theater, a speech, and this human birth

I saw a student production of "Enron". While the acting was good, the play was lacking in drama.  Instead of a story unfolding a la Richard lll, the play was preachy and finally, despite music and dancing , somewhat dull.  To qualify for drama, the character of Jeffrey Skilling could have been revealed.  After all, there is a curiosity as to what makes a "villan".  Was it simple greed or some damaged part of his character?  Theater should provide more than just "information." Even entertainment would do.

   On a different note, Leonard Cohen won the Prince of Asturias (highly regarded Spanish) award in "letters".  His acceptance speech is among the most moving I have ever heard.  He says  "You are an old man and you have not said thank you.. I have come here tonight to thank the soil and soul of this land that has given me so much".

My birthday is coming up and I am getting older.  I haven't thanked the earth for this life (the Buddhists would say for this human birth), for having had so many possibilitites, and for so much beauty and the possibility of more to come.  

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Through rain, through snow, occupy Buffalo!

What does your ideal world look like?  Mine looks like this one if I could just change a few essentials and add: universal health care, affordable housing, higher education at lower cost, public transportation, a safety net, and employment opportunities.  That was the Europe I lived in for 2 decades and now is threatened by the same forces that have decimated the US economy- speculation with pensions, a housing bubble, and extreme wealth inequity. 
   So I am grateful to those intrepid Buffalonians that can hold meetings and even sleep in a city square through freezing rain and wind.  I am grateful to see people of all ages including retirees, veterans, and college students fighting the good fight. 
    They can represent a majority that never vocalize their concerns, like the lost souls taking the city bus on their way to the endless appointments in the social services bureaucracy (at least in NY state there are social services).  They can represent my Burmese student who washes dishes in a suburban restaurant.  He finishes work at 10 but after 2 buses and a subway ride only gets home at 1 AM.  They can represent many of my part-time co-workers who have no health care or even myself, facing a very uncertain financial future. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bhutan, Buffalo- thoughts on marriage

This week I went to a Bhutanese wedding which was exotic and totally different from Western weddings.  "Say yes to the Dress" (TV show of women shopping for bridal gowns) pales next to the Bhutanese bride and groom in their golden bejeweled outfits. Blessings are given by the guests and flowers lightly tossed on the couple's heads. 
    In Bhutan, marriages are arranged.  In this case, the couple had met just once before the wedding when they discussed their future plans and what they were looking for.  The two came from similar backgrounds which goes a long way to creating compatibility. 
    What works?  In the US, attraction (falling in love) outweighs all other considerations.  In one of the French films I've seen recently, a woman talks about her potential partner and says, "We feel the same way about food."  That wouldn't even enter into the American equasion.
    I was never interested in marriage, something I attribute to watching my parents' marriage and growing up in the feminist era.  Did I miss something besides a big party?
Do public vows change the nature of a relationship (of which I've had one very long and a couple of shorter ones)?  Does getting married mean that you take on the very slow painful evolution of the archetype of marriage in a society in which gender roles are blurred and changing?
   Like most people I would like to fall in love.  These days I'm looking for an editor (just kidding).  By that I mean  a relationship of sharing each other's interests on a deep level.  That plus the other factors of attraction and compatibility.  And food?  ( it doesn't hurt).  I went out with a vegan for a few months and going out wasn't much fun.  Does marriage have to enter into this?  So far, it hasn't.
    And then, a poem:

Madrid Morning

An old world Madrid morning
turns the room sepia,
traffic screams
the dust of the plain
settles in my throat.
The room never lightens
past this shade,
ghosts inhabit all gaslit corners.

You turn over
each movement gains a response.
Around us now crashes
ago crumbles,

but steadily, calmly, you emerge
from the debris
to offer the tangible,
a taste, a touch.

I struggle to dream less,
pleasure is here, possible
your voice reminds.
My body agrees
I fight the voices of reason,
the ones of fancy
to drift above and escape in time.