Love happens

by Andrada Costoiu

Your invitation was like a pistol,
Shot at the beginning of a race,
One that transformed my pipe dreams
Into something extraordinarily real.
I never really recognized what was happening,
Until the moment I realized I was all in.

A tornado, strong and fierce,
Tangled together, 
I should try to pull myself back,
Yet it feels warm and inviting. 
Logic is beside the point,
Just like rationality and self-preservation,
To me,
It is likely that love is one of the ungovernable forces,
Just like gravity,
It just happens…..

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What are you afraid of?

by Andrada Costoiu

I’m not afraid of the dark…
I’m not afraid of heights….
I’m not afraid of storms….
I’m not afraid……

Fearless dancers though life,
What a seductive image
Beautiful but imperfect,
Because we are humans with slow rumbling storms on the inside.

I am afraid….

I’m afraid of losing my sensibility,
Of not feelings things and people,
I’m afraid of the needle of numbness.
I’m afraid of building a strong carcass,
As I always want to be free.

I’m afraid of not feeling love the way it should be felt,
With storms and calmness,
With butterflies and loud bangs,
Am I feeling too little, too much?
Because I don’t know how others feel it…..

I’m afraid of disappointment in my children’s eyes,
I want to be great,
And sometimes I am, but sometimes I am not.

And you, what are you afraid of?
In this moment, 
I glimpse at the person you are and at who you’re becoming,
And all I can think is…
That we all have our own fears.

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Unbound

by Andrada Costoiu

You are not perfect but nobody is,
Everybody is chipped in some way, isn’t it?

Leave aside all people who are making lists of yes and no,
Of good and bad, of worth and not worth.
Perhaps I should tell you something of what is happening:
Captivating stages of life,
Are catching you becoming.
From the young one,
To the interesting, to the self-assured,
You’re undoubtedly moving,
Through the unexplained and unpredicted,
Through idleness and excitement,
Beating the drum in the rhythm of life.

Your only jailers are the attitudes or concepts you imprison yourself with,
Not people! No locks can hold you from becoming you everyday.
So sing a song and plant your dreams.
Stop looking at me like that,
Your cocked quizzical eyebrow makes me smile.
Sing with no voice if you want,
But still sing,
Your dreams and then you,
Will grow faster and taller if you sing from your heart.

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Shadows of love

by Andrada Costoiu

The midnight saw the moon 
Round and gold, no other stars
She was alone,
Just like me.

I tried to close my eyes,
To stop thinking,
But sometimes my mind
Acts like a Medici tyrant.
Shadows of the promises you made,
Were dancing in every corner,
And I knew that I cannot put eyelids
On what was to follow:
News wreck
Involving some “truth” that crushed my wings.
Does that mean that I will have to be walking from now on?
Would it be possible to go be a caterpillar again?
At least that would mean hope,
I always liked to fly.

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Alone

by Andrada Costoiu

Last night we were at the mall. It was past 7, it already got dark and but the artificial light was bathing this little place of the world with its sweet honey color.  We were seating on a bench, waiting for a dinner table. We didn’t make dinner reservations and there was a waiting list. It was a beautiful night, calm, people were walking, kids were playing. 

And then I saw her.

An older lady, in her late 70s or she might have been 80. I cannot accurately guess her age. She was elegantly dressed, all black, black pants and a black long sleeve top. She was wearing heels, not high but mid heel pumps. Over her black top she had a big piece of costume jewelry necklace. Her white hair was short, puffy, a bit like Jane Fonda. It was beautifully styled. I think it took a good 3-4 minutes as she walked past us. My heart broke and I’m not sure why. It is maybe because I saw it in her eyes or maybe because I felt that she was alone.

Me and my family had dinner and a great time, I forgot all about it. But then, at night, her image came back. I thought about her, I thought about myself and I thought about us people. I thought about the journey of life and about what we understand while doing it.

Thinking and perceiving

Nietzsche once said that:

“No one can construct for you the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of life, no one but you yourself alone.” Nietzsche 

I am thinking…… Alone. But how alone are we? How much of me do you see and how much of you do I see? Do you see me the way I see myself? Do I see you the way you see yourself?

I don’t really know the answer. I do not want to engage solipsism or what other philosophical views are on this subject. I want a practical perspective.

Communication and understanding 

Back to my old lady in black. What did I see? I saw grace, beauty, old age, her alone feeling. It truly broke my heart, because this was my image of her. In trying to process what I saw through my own lenses I applied to her my self-avowals and self-ascriptions. 

But what if talked to her? Maybe the way I had perceived her would have stayed the same. But also, I might have found out that what I saw was not truly who she was. Maybe she had a family, maybe she had a full life and she was happy.

The way we see is not always the way others see. We all have our own truths. We all want to live in a happy world, but we each have our own definitions of happiness.

Do you see me the way I see myself? Do I see you the way you see yourself? These are questions that we should all think about. In the light of so many social problems, of so many differences in our society, on matters of gender, ethnicity and so many other differences, we should try to understand “otherness”. We are all prejudiced and have our own stereotypes. Some less then others, but we do have them, because who we are is conditioned by our experiences.

I do not know what kind of social structure will best facilitate happiness, but we are all together on this planet. Regardless of how singular our carapace of a body makes us, we are connected into something bigger. If we talk and try to understand each other, then we will live better…..and maybe when feelings of alone will hit, you will find the comfort of all these people around you, who are all the same: alone but together.   

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© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lee Miller, from being seen to seeing

by Andrada Costoiu

Lee Miller, Self-portrait (variant on lee miller par lee miller), c. 1930.

Miller was born in 1907, in Poughkeepsie, New York. Old fashion, old style! Most of us didn’t live during these times, when this woman was a fashion icon. Most of us didn’t hear the rattle of gun and didn’t feel the fear of war. But she did and she led a life that many times was out of the comfort zone of regular people. She knew how to wear elegant clothes and also muddy boots.  Her photography has informed the world about the horrors of WWII and has also inspired fashion designers such as Alexander McQueen, Gucci’s Frida Giannini and Ann Demeulemeester.

Why am I writing about her?

Because I was inspired by her metamorphosis, from a young girl that had a career in modeling, to an accomplished photographer and then to a war correspondent. Because I appreciate the bravery of a human, male or female, who is able to get out of his comfort zone to do things that would make a difference in our world.  Because I like photography and because maybe not many people know that she was a part of the Surrealist movement, just as much as Man Ray, who is considered the pioneer of it. 

Her father’s daughter, New York and Vogue

Her father was a bricklayer son. He was of German descent and his own passion was photography. He decided that his daughter was the perfect model and he photographed her since babyhood. He taught her about the technical aspects of photography. They had a close relationship and some say that this is perhaps why she didn’t hold long relationships with other men….

At 19, she became employed by Vogue. She was one of the most sought – after models and she was challenging the stereotypical images of women in the society of that time.

Her photo was used in an advertisement for Kotex menstrual pads and it was the first time that the image of a human being was employed for such a product. Needless to say that the ad ruffled a lot of feathers given the lack of permissiveness of the times. It is funny to look at the above photography now and think about the reactions that it caused back then. 

Paris and Surrealism

In 1929 she travelled to Paris to meet Man Ray, a surrealist artist and photographer. She turned up at his table at Le Bateau Ivre café and she became his apprentice and lover. Together they lifted photography to surrealist art. They discovered the technique called “polarization” which then became Man Ray’s trademark( this is the overexposure of the photographic film in the camera through which you give photos a ghostly, glowing look). If you want to know more about this technique here is a link : how to solarize photos.

They worked three years together and they took extraordinary photos of each other. She became Man’s obsession and even if he photographed countless celebrities (among which are Wallis Simpson, Virginia Woolf, Picasso, Chanel) she was the one that was his muse. In their pictures of each other, you can see their erotic connection.

Lee and Man together

LEE MILLER PORTRAIT, 1930 BY MAN RAY

Between New York, Egypt and Paris

Jealousy broke Miller and Man apart.  She moved to New York during the Depression era and she started a business with her brother Erik. Here she fell in love with a rich Egyptian, Azis Eloui Bey. He came to NYC to buy equipment for the Egyptian national railway. They got married and together they moved to Cairo. 

Lee Miller: Oasis village, 1936, Egypt; photo in the archive of George Dunkley

Here she took some of her most striking black and white photography. This above photo is one of them.

But I guess her wanderer spirit could not be tamed. By the end of the decade she will separate from Aziz and move to London. Here she’ll meet the love of her life, Roland Penrose. 

London and WWII

I think what shines about her is her work and courage.  In London, while married to Penrose, Miller embarked on a new career in photojournalism as the official war photographer for Vogue.

Unafraid, she took pictures of many important events during the war. 

If you remember from one of my previous articles about St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the worst things that happened to London and Britain during the war was the Blitz. This was a campaign of bombing (almost daily bombing!) of London and Britain by the Germans.

Miller was there, with her Surrealist eye. She brought the tragedy of destruction in front of people’s eyes. If you see her photos, you can feel her empathy for the ones suffering, you can feel her compassion for the destruction that was going around. Her pictures were featured in Vogue as a way to show the American public the terrible tragedy Britain was enduring and also in the hope to influence the United States to enter the war. 

I can’t bring myself to put many of her war photographies here, because they are sad. But, here is one of a bombed chapel.

 A bombed chapel, 1940. Photograph: Lee Miller, © Lee Miller Archives

Besides photography she also did combat journalism, sending cables from the most dangerous places. 

She reported from St. Malo, which was garrisoned by German troops. This was a vital point for Germany’s defense along the Atlantic coast. While it was heavily bombarded by the Allies she violated the terms of her accreditation as a woman journalist and of course, covered the combat. As a consequence, she was later put under house arrest by the US army, but she was again not deterred to go cover further battles.

She went to Buchenwald and Dachau, two German concentration camps. The thought of these places makes my body hair rise and makes my body feel cold.

She also reported from the 44thEvacuation Hopital, Normandy, after D-Day.

Miller was the first person to enter Hitler’s Munich apartment as American forces were liberating the city. Here is a photography of her in his bathtub. Notice her muddy boots soiling the Hitler’s pristine white bathmat.

Lee Miller in Hitler’s bathtub, Hitler’s apartment, Munich, Germany, 1945 © Lee Miller Archives

Then she spend time documenting the aftermath of Nazi rule, singling out female victims and perpetrators.

Lee Miller, Two German women sitting on a park bench surrounded by destroyed buildings, Cologne, Germany, 1945 © Lee Miller Archives

After the War, Miller suffered from what now might be recognized as PTSD, drinking heavily and retreating into depression. She lived in the UK with her husband , Penrose, and son. She died from cancer in 1977.

Her story inspires. I am inspired by her courage to be there in a war zone. I am inspired by her strength in the face of adversity, by her quest for truth and justice. Having worked with Syrian refugees myself, as I have a book project on the back burner, I have a glimpse of how emotionally difficult it is to be there for people that have lost close to everything. I hope that day by day, we all become better and we do our bit to make a good change in this world.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Super Bowl half time show, 2020 and “Take it to the house kid”

by Andrada Costoiu

With the risk of stepping on some shoes I am going to say what I feel it’s right to say about our society.  This isn’t an article about politics, nor about sex, it is an article about parenthood and what we are teaching our children. It is an article about our future society and the values we promote.

“Take it to the house kid”

The opening of the game was so wonderful, with the cute, young kid who doesn’t stop running until he ends up with the ball in Miami at the Super Bowl.   Everybody is cheering him and shouts “ Take it to the house kid!” This “NFL 100” commercial was a big hit. 

There is no mystery about NFL using children in their commercials and also about them being aware that part of their audience are children. Looking at some statistics you will find that:

“The Super Bowl is the highest-rated show across all age groups. Last year, the game averaged a 30.2 percent rating with teens and 21.8 percent with kids 2-11” 

(Source: Super Bowl TV ratings: Fast facts at a glance, CNBC, Jan 28th, 2014)

The figures from 2014 have not changed much. According to Forbes, the 2019 Super Bowl was the highest rated program of the year with kids (18.6), teens (21.6) and every other age group

(Source: Forbes, What You Should Know About Super Bowl LIV Advertising And Broadcast, Brad Adgate, January 27th, 2020).

And as a parent, you get the whole family together for this event and you try to make it fun! You consider all kinds of ideas and suggestions of how to organize kids’ super Bowl Parties and how to make the Super Bowl watching fun with kids. 

Super Bowl is a family friendly show, or so I thought…..

Teaching kids values, good and bad

I want to make it simple: we are raw models for our kids and they look up to us. We teach them early on how to behave, what is appropriate and what is not. And what they learn from us stick with them for a long time.

We teach them by example. We read them books to teach them about working together, about friendship, unselfishness, and sacrifice. We point to good behavior and we explain why it’s good.

We also teach them about prejudice. A song from a very old movie, called South Pacific, sounds like this: 

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught

Cable – You’ve got to be taught
To hate
And fear
You’ve got to be taught
From year
To year
Its got to
Be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to
Be carefully
Taught
You’ve got to be taught
To be
Afraid
Of people
Who’s eyes are oddly made
And people who’s skin is a different shade
You’ve got to
Be carefuly
Taught
You’ve got to be taught
Before it’s too late
Before you are six
Or seven
Or eight
To hate all the people
Your relatives hate
You’ve got to
Be carefully taught
You’ve got to
Be carefully taught
Emile De Beque –
This is just the kind of ugliness I was running away from
It has followed my all this way
All these years
And now it has found me
… Authors: Matthew MorrisonOscar Hammerstein II

This movie, South Pacific, is a 1958 American romantic musical film, one of the first movies to be made in Technicolor. It was one of the first movies that has made a particular point of combating prejudice and if you carefully read the lines of the songs, it says that You’ve got to be taught/Before it’s too late/Before you are six/Or seven/Or eight/To hate all the people/Your relatives hate/You’ve got to/ Be carefully taught”. Back then, this movie was not shown in some parts of the South….and we know why they didn’t want to talk about it!

This teaching takes place at a very early age. According to Sonia Kang and Michael Inzlicht of the University of Toronto: “young children are information hungry — they are eagerly searching for general rules to help in mapping out their social worlds” (Source: “Stigma building blocks: How instruction and experience teach children about rejection by outgroups.” 2012. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Mar 38(3):357-69.)

Fast forward to the half time show last night, that I was watching with my family. Who was the sensual choreography targeting? What was it meant to achieve?

Had I let my daughter, who is young, stay in the room, what do you think that would have taught her? 

The same goes for my son. What do you think a 10 years old boy would see and say: wow, these are two powerful women dancing? No, I don’t think so. Like there is an appropriate age for the consumption of alcohol, so there is an appropriate age for seeing these kinds of images.  And I don’t care if instead of Jeniffer Lopez and Shakira were 20 or 90 year olds, female or male, white, black or purple! I don’t want these images to be planted into my kids’ brains. There is a time for everything. 

Between prejudice and common sense

Most news outlets say that Shakira and J.Lo dazzled during the halftime performance. I agree, these are two beautiful singers, with talent and with wonderful dancing skills. But the show was not appropriate for the audience. If they put on such a show, they should say in advance PG-13. Maybe Shakira was ok, but Jennifer Lopez definitely not. As a mom, I would like to keep the innocence of my children as long as possible. 

Does this look appropriate to be viewed by a young child?

And you know, I have heard a lot of people saying that if you didn’t think it was appropriate, then it is because you are prejudiced.  It is because you are a white woman, a conservative, it is because you cannot go past the poles, it is because you are like this and like that. Really?  So, if you don’t want to show your kids the image of a woman, with her legs spread on top of a bunch of men, then ……there must be something wrong with you? Hello no!  There is nothing wrong with not wanting to introduce young kids to our culture of sex. And this is not how you teach kids good values and tolerance. 

And btw, I am a white woman and that is all. And maybe I will learn pole dancing too, I think it’s cool!

Please stop framing the discussion of how appropriate it was for the audience around social and political discussions of ethnicity, mom’s power or whatever the differences in our society are. This has nothing to do with it. We are all equal and we should appreciate each other for what we are.  But let’s think through what it is and what it is not appropriate. Let’s think through about the values we teach and we promote for our kids.

On a side note, I do not blame Shakira and Jenifer Lopez. They were performing what they were asked to perform and they did a wonderful job as singers and dancers.  But I am disappointed in the NFL, in the cameramen who chose to focus their lenses on the singers’ private parts instead of the ensemble and also in the choreographers who put on this show.

Think

And now, after I have said all I had to say, I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Antoine de Saint Expert: “All grown-ups were once children… but only few of them remember it.”(Antoine de Saint-Exupery.1943 “The little prince.”) Forget about all the prejudices you might have and think about that. Think about seeing what you have seen in the half time show through the eyes of a young child. 

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Our beautiful world

by Andrada Costoiu

I stand alone,
Almost losing my words.
The sound of the ocean soothes my soul,
The sky, with colors that kept changing like the seasons of our lives,
Opened the door towards everywhere and nowhere.

Can steal this moment,
And seal it in my heart?
I guess….
Because what you see,
What you smell,
Never quite fades away.

I will stop,
I want to dig three graves in the sand,
And make them as deep as I can with my bare hands.

One is for the wars in our world,
I want to burry their blood, their tears,
And their haunting hypnotic rhythm
That makes people inflict pain, revenge and hate.

The second is for anger,
For anger blinds,
It’s black and bitter,
It ties you down somewhere in darkness,
Where only cruel whispers fill your mind.

The third is for ignorance.
The ice caps are melting,
The bees are dying,
And flowers don’t grow after the died!
If we don’t do something about it,
We’re all a family of thieves.

I tried to burry these, burry them deep!
Maybe the sand has swallowed them all…

Looking at the horizon,
I’m thinking about our story forward.
As young or old souls of this world
We all have wings to fly,
In our beautiful world.

This poem was inspired by this picture that I took few days ago while I was walking on the beach.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.