March 12th, 2005

March 11th, 2005
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I just had to post this fabulous photo of Martha Graham, while we are on the theme of capturing the wind. (link via Blueberry Moon’s journal, forwarded by Fern) Image from the New York Public Library archives.
As you may know I am a huge Martha Graham fan, and have been studying her technique off and on for a while now, (she is certainly one of my creative mentors). My dance teacher, and friend Helen Jones studied with Martha for many years (as well as dancing with the company). Many times during class Helen will share some of Martha’s phrases, which cause me to feel excited and giddy. She attempted to bring the dancer our of her body and into her imagination through the use of imagery. The whole process becomes not so much physical but instead more like creating a painting. Movement through a concept. Very hard to explain with words, it is something that must be experienced. But to give you an example, instead of saying “tilt your head down and to the left”, she might instead say, “listen to your shoulder, it is whispering something.” It sounds a bit trite, but the effect is dramatic, I’ve watched it with people who have little training. The first is mechanical and awkward, the second graceful and soft, with much more feeling. She helps us to cease thinking about how to move because most often we think too much, too much control, with too much force.
You may be surprised to hear that one of the most difficult tasks in a dance class is walking. Even with experienced dancers. Because it is something we do without thinking. If we are asked to do it consciously it becomes mechanical and uncomfortable, one becomes unsure of where to place their foot, when to step, how far a pace should be, etc. You begin to worry about falling, or about how it looks to others. If you allow yourself to contemplate that walking is actually a process of falling and catching yourself you can really get yourself into a mess, (try it and you will see what I mean). Walking works only when the mind is free to drift to other things, when the body can forget that it is walking.
The message here is quite simple, stop thinking, allow yourself to feel. Let the movement happen naturally.
I come up against this again and again in class. I dance much better when I really feel and enter into the music, when I stop worrying about doing the steps correctly. When I smile the whole time because I remember how much I like to move and how grateful I am that I can.
“I am absorbed in the magic of movement and light. Movement never lies. It is the magic of what I call the outer space of the imagination. There is a great deal of outer space, distant from our daily lives, where I feel our imagination wanders sometimes. It will find a planet or it will not find a planet, and that is what a dancer does.” –Martha Graham

March 10th, 2005
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today the empty cloth grocery bag I was carrying caught the wind, and blew open like a bullfrog.
i made a game out of it, trailing it beside me like a balloon.
up, down, up, down. smiling.
i dislike the wind. it makes things seem colder than they are.
so i pretended that I had captured it and was holding it prisoner until the spring comes.
take that winter.
you are no match for me.

March 9th, 2005
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March 7th, 2005
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The perfect time to write. Sitting at my friend Wendy’s, looking at an incredible view of the Beaver Valley. Bright sun, a low lying fog hanging over the rolling hills. A deer grazes for food in the snow. The trees sillouetted against the fog.
Such a contrast to a few days ago, fighting for space among thousands of people. Here space is abundant, other humans a surprise. At times the absence of sound is jarring. A few days ago I was exhausted and overstimulated. Today there is a the mental space to take things in slowly. To exist without effort. I have had a bit of time to let the trip gestate. What did it all mean? When you are in it, it seems like a big blur. Chaos. Now the story in it can emerge quietly.
I don’t think I could have had a more “New York” experience than I did. Staying at Reid’s house in Harlem, riding the subway, (I dubbed it the week of the subway we rode it so much.) Having coffee at Reid’s parents apartment on 92nd, the stereotypical New York apartment, the foyer complete with plaster molding, chandeleirs, and a doorman. Hinting at another time, the late 1920′s perhaps? I had only seen places like this in the movies. Not overly decadent, but quaint. An oasis in the middle of the giant machine.
(The map above made it through travelling everywhere in my pocket, snowstorms, rain, sleet, being pulled out every hour, getting lost several times.)
mini adventures…
Meeting with Randi and her mother who was staying at a friend’s apartment. The place was full of amazing artwork, I wandered through it mouth agape, several David Hockney’s, a Hirschfeld, as well as many well known pieces of furniture.
Meeting my new agent for the first time, feeling relaxed about the whole experience, able to enjoy it all. There was such a great energy in the office, one felt like they were in the literary hub of NY. People having meetings in offices, conversations about big authors, walls full of books. I sat trying to take it all in, smiling. There was the most amazing view of the city, Greenwich village. We sat and chatted about life, books, directions. Afterwards I felt so incredibly charged and powerful. Ready for new things to come. Forward movement.
Meeting Jeff at the Strand afterwards. Browsing quickly among the tall overfilled shelves. We bought…
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Swan’s Way -Proust
one by Rick Bass
poetry by Seamus Heany
Independence Day -Richard Ford
Wandering around St. Marks, lunch at Dojo (soba noodles), stopping for tea at Tea & Sympathy (oolong with plum tart, the best I’ve ever had). I admired a lamp shade made of clear and light blue marbles and the red wooden floor with most of the paint worn off.
Viewing tiny collages by Kurt Schwitters at the Moma. Viewing the large, beautiful scribbles by Cy Twombly.
Dinner at Wildflower on Bleeker, one of the most unique waiters I’ve every experienced. Strange but good, much like a scene from Alice and Wonderland, (he reminded me of the hare). He instructed us that today the chef requested that we only pay what we feel the meal was worth. We laughed at our good fortune.
The Gates. The thing that struck me most was the movement through them. A steady stream of people, like a long river, flowing in and out of the orange pathways. I got goosebumps thinking about the fact that it is the equivalent of a modern day pilgrimage, a religious experience of sorts, (or as close as we can come to it in our time.) How often does one get to walk with several thousand people?
Stopping in Ithaca for dinner. While we walked through the quaint little streets, Jeff stopped and said, “Oh my god, do you see it?” I scanned the stream to my left, following his eyes, not seeing anything. As I turned my head to the right I saw a tiny baby owl perched on the side of a bridge. I was staring into the cutest eyes I have ever seen, (I think I jumped in disbelief, my brain not full understanding what I was seeing.) And then he lifted his wings and flew under the bridge. We named him “momo”. With the snow falling softly, it was one of the most magical moments of my life.
Street art that read, “Fight for Beauty”.

March 3rd, 2005

“It can destroy an individual, or it can fulfill him, depending a good deal on luck. No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.”

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