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…..
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.
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.
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.
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 asa 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.
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.
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.
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”
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 Morrison, Oscar 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.
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.
Have you ever felt your heart cartwheeling in your chest? I did, many times…. When you smile, when you sparkle, When say silly things as: “I broke the Kumon Bank”, Because you thought they gave you way too many packets for homework! Or when you asked if my mom(your grandma) was born during the Civil War, Because you thought she’s so knowledgeable And knows everything!
You make me happy, Your thoughts are clear and pure, I never want to let the society take out the child inside you.
I’ll save the conservative thinking for another lifetime, I don’t want you to sit properly, behave properly, Because what is proper anyway? I want you to dance when everyone is watching, To believe in the impossible and to always have hope.
I don’t have a manual, none of us do, And even us, adults, Can sometimes feel as bees on the sand. But I do know that “Success” is not defined by reaching very rigid milestones, So don’t let the society dictate your life.
There are so many things that are not quite right in the world today, But there is so much good too. You will realize that all things change, And like the forces of nature, Everybody has the power to unleash and unlock what they’re capable of. If more people decide to do good, the balance will tilt to that side, Be one of these people.
Life is about creating yourself, Take your time, smile, breathe and keep going.
I am reading a book, it’s called “Letters to the lost” by Iona Grey. It’s a beautiful love story, set in London during WW2. As I was reading it, I came across this passage that’s happening in St. Paul’s Cathedral. This sent me back to the time when I was inside it.
I didn’t know about the Whispering Gallery. I wish I knew; I would have climbed up there.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is a magic place that goes back in time. I thought this building was the start, but no!! The cathedral building has been destroyed several times and there is so much history behind it! The first on this site was a Roman temple to Diana, but the first Christian cathedral there was dedicated to St. Paul in AD 604. That cathedral burned and its replacement (built 675–685) was destroyed by Viking raiders in 962.
In 1087 a third cathedral erected on the site also burned!
The fourth one, now known as Old St. Paul’s, was constructed in the late 11th century. Its spire stood higher than the dome of the present cathedral. In 1561 the spire was destroyed by lightning (and a resulting fire) and never replaced. Then this building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666), when it was caught in the flames. The lead on the roof melted and poured down on to the street like a river, or so they say. The building collapsed.
The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It was the first Cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth-century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope! It has survived the WW2 Blitz as it is (with repairs) . What was the Blitz? It was the German bombing campaign against the UK, in 1940 and 1941. Not only London, but also provincial UK was bombed. Much of London was lost, including many iconic buildings. St. Paul’s survived probably through a miracle (or maybe because it was protected somehow). Below it’s a picture after the bombings, with St. Paul’s towering over the ruble of London. Since then, this building had become associated with the British resilience.
Who was Christopher Wren and how did he came to build St. Paul’s
After the year of the Great Plague in 1665, The Great Fire of London came! The fire happened in 1666 destroyed many of the city’s public buildings, including 88 of its churches.
Christopher Wren was commissioned to build 51 replacement churches, and that included St Paul’s cathedral. Although Wren was personally responsible for all these, probably not all of them represent his own fully developed design. Only a few are in Wren’s hand, including St. Paul’s.
Wren was many things, not only an architect. He was a scientist and he was one of the founders of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), the oldest scientific society in the world! His work was highly regarded by Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.
The cathedralis heavily influenced by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The construction of the cathedral took more than 40 years. In 1708, Wren’s son, Christopher Wren Jr, placed the final stone on the lantern, watched by his father below.
I think the most notable feature is the dome. The dome framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, has dominated London’s skyline for over 300 years. It is still among the highest in the world.
Internally, the church is beautiful ,with impressive arches and naves.
There are famous people buried here.
The first person to be buried in St. Paul’s Cathedralwas its creator. Christopher Wren died in 1723. His tomb is on the south aisle in the east of the crypt.
Here you will also find the tombs of Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, William Blake, Lawrence of Arabia and many others.
Sunday mass, under the Dome
Picture snapped by my friend while going to the mass
I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral on a Sunday morning, with my friends. We were there for the mass, and it was wonderful.
I don’t like sermons that much, I don’t like when people tell other people what to do or not do. But I like when people learn from each other and I also like when people stand together, united in good thoughts.
Probably that’s why I felt overwhelmed, when the chorus and then everybody started to sing. Under the dome, our voices together sounded powerful, uplifting and hopeful. I think that is the definition of being human.
Together we stand, together we can do great things, each of us doing our own bit.