Category Archives: Love

The Velocity of Autumn

VelocityLast Wednesday our good friend, Casey surprised us with a pair of tickets to the pre-broadway engagement of The Velocity of Autumn, starring Academy Award winner, Estelle Parsons and two-time Tony Award winner, Stephen Spinella.  Written by Eric Coble and directed by the all-amazing Molly Smith of Arena Stage, this play of two on-stage characters takes you into the aging and glowingly lonesome life of Alexandra and her gay son, Christopher.

The entire play takes place in Alexandra’s Brooklyn brownstone living room, filled with arsenal of molotov cocktails and a woman with her husband’s Zippo lighter who’s on the edge of blowing up the entire block in a painfully desperate attempt to stay in her home.  Her estranged son, Christopher lives in New Mexico and returns to New York City, reluctantly becomes the family negotiator between his exhausted and seemingly volatile mother and his siblings.  This beautiful play is a compelling story of what seems like a long-lost mother-son relationship, whom both have more in common than they realize.  The audience are provided with the opportunity to witness the living room ping-pong match of extremely funny dialogue as well as deeply touching moments, as these mother and son characters re-discover their bond and love through unconventional ways.

The splendor of any good play, is being able to relate, sympathize, and empathize.  In the ever-increasing velocity of a me world, do we pause in our life to think about the ins and outs of our relationships with our family members, especially those who are aging?   When we seem to grow distant from family members (and long-time friends for that matter) through differences in our lives, beliefs, and understandings – do we embrace and nurture the bonds we once had to begin with, or do reconcile such distance, being that too much time has passed in placing little or any effort into trying to rebuild what once was?

I’ve often asked myself those same questions about the relationship between me and my 81 year-old grandmother.   Though we weren’t entirely close when I was younger, there was still a profound bond between the both of us.   As I grew up, we both became distant to a degree, and after father passed away – we re-connected our relationship and have continued to nurture it since then.   Perhaps we needed each other the most as she began to grieve the loss of her first-born son and I began to grieve the loss of my father.  In many ways we are alike, and in many more ways we are very different in “where we’ve been” and what we believe.  Yet though the beauty and mystery of the family bond, we depend on each other in many special ways.   I interpret that this is very similar for Alexandra and Christopher – though years of separation have passed, they have reached a point in their lives where they need and depend on each other.

The Velocity of Autumn is playing through October 20, 2013  at  Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater’s Kreeger Auditorium.  If you’re a DC local, I highly recommend that you enjoy this great theatre production!

Advertisements

Never Forget

Twelve years later and I still remember that horrific day of terror, confusion, and pain as if it happened yesterday.  Quickly our nation came together in a way I had never seen before.   We held each other, we wept together, we consoled one another…then we went on with life.  We took down our American flags.   The benefit concerts ceased.   We picked up from where we left off…attacking one another.  In the midst of such tragedy and chaos a dozen years ago:  what happened to that spirit of loving unity that we all shared in?  It took the deaths of 2,977 people to draw us close together as a nation; a family…have we forgotten their memory already?

I will never forget.   September 11, 2001 woke me up and opened my eyes to see life in a totally new way.   It reminded me how love always prevails over hate.  It restored my faith in God and the brilliance of humanity.   Even amidst what seems like never-ending divisions in our world today, the lives and memory of those who perished live on in my heart.   They inspire me to continue to be an instrument for peace, when and wherever peace is needed.   Always remember.  Never forget.

May 11, 1933 - September 11, 2001

May 11, 1933 – September 11, 2001

 

Lord, take me where
you want me to go;
Let me meet whom you
want me to meet;
Tell me what You want
me to say, and
Keep me out of your
way.

 

This prayer was found in the pocket of Franciscan Friar Mychal Judge, the FDNY chaplain and first confirmed victim who died September 11, 2001 at ground zero.

We Still Have a Dream

IMG_7666

Fifty years ago today over 250,000 Americans set foot in The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, DC.   On this day, history was forever changed in the largest political rally for human rights and equality.   On this day, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his iconic “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.  That speech would eventually be ranked as the top American speech of the 20th century.  It was this very historic day which has been credited in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the ongoing pursuit for equality.  Tragically, it was a little more than four years later that Dr. King would be martyred by a racist sniper on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom – August 28, 1963

Today, the life, wisdom, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonates throughout the world.  There are few places in the world where this non-violent, peaceful visionary is not known.   Young children can recite various parts of his speeches as well as memorable quotes with pride and ease.   What is most amazing is how Dr. King has become embraced over all these years by many Americans, especially those who are minorities, ostracized, and discriminated against.  And though great strides have been made in the last 50-years, a lot remains to be done.  We have a long way to go before the visions of Dr. King for unity, equality, and peace are a true reality for all Americans.  In a recent poll; few think all of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s goals have been met.

Today I joined my fiancé, friends, and over 150,000 Americans on the National Mall to remember and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.   I spent the entire day surrounded by a sea of diversity – a beautiful rainbow of ethnicities, ages, faiths, backgrounds…documented and undocumented Americans, male and female, gay, straight, and transgender.  There are no words to describe the spirit of universal love and solidarity which was very much present this afternoon.  We listened to a vast array of speakers, some of whom included: Rev. Al Sharpton, Benjamin Todd Jealous, Dr. Eliza Byard, Congresswoman Donna Edwards, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy, Rev. Dr. Bernice King, Martin L. King III, Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and so many others.

We were reminded of the progress which has been made, but the realities of what remains…a growing gap between the rich and poor, voter suppression, race driven murder victims such as Trayvon Martin, anti-equality legislation and homophobic hate crimes, and more.   As the Voting Rights Act continues to be attacked, former President Bill Clinton remarked, “A great democracy does not make it harder to vote than to buy an assault weapon.”

We were continually reminded by so many leaders this afternoon, “we’ve come too far to turn back now.”   We are Americans and we still have a dream and we have an obligation to keep that dream alive, one day passing the threshold from dream to reality.  President Obama hit the nail on the head when he said,

“Those are the victories they won, with iron wills and hope in their hearts. That is the transformation that they wrought, with each step of their well-worn shoes. That’s the debt that I and millions of Americans owe those maids, those laborers, those porters, those secretaries; folks who could have run a company maybe if they had ever had a chance; those white students who put themselves in harm’s way, even though they didn’t have to; those Japanese Americans who recalled their own internment; those Jewish Americans who had survived the Holocaust; people who could have given up and given in, but kept on keeping on, knowing that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

On the battlefield of justice, men and women without rank or wealth or title or fame would liberate us all in ways that our children now take for granted, as people of all colors and creeds live together and learn together and walk together, and fight alongside one another, and love one another, and judge one another by the content of our character in this greatest nation on Earth.

To dismiss the magnitude of this progress — to suggest, as some sometimes do, that little has changed — that dishonors the courage and the sacrifice of those who paid the price to march in those years. Medgar Evers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, Martin Luther King Jr. — they did not die in vain. Their victory was great.”

Think about where we’ve all come from and how far we’ve come.   The dream continues with the wisdom of our past heroines of freedom and elders.   The dream continues with you and I.  We are all called to be pavers in the road to equality, justice, and freedom.  We truly have a moral obligation and duty to stay steadfast, not only for the children of today, but for all future generations.   The dream continues with our commitment to love, service, and stewardship.

“If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral.  And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy, tell them not to talk too long.  Every now and then I wonder what I want them to say…I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others.  I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody.  I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry.  I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked.  I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison.  I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.”  

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The Drum Major Instinct (1968)

Perfectly Penzance

Frederick & Mabel, "Stay!"

Frederick & Mabel, “Stay!”

This afternoon my fiancé and I had the joy of watching our good friend, Chris take to the stage in the role of The Pirate King in W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s operetta, The Pirates of Penzance.   The cast and production team consist of members of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) community, and The GLBT Arts Consortium who dedicate their time and talent every summer to beloved Gilbert & Sullivan shows.

Pirates of Penzance is perhaps G&S’ most enduring hit!  It’s filled with great tunes plus more than the usual ration of satire and silliness.  It’s a fast-paced show that requires good singing and an even greater talent for rapidly biting off those consonants in the dynamic duo’s famous patter-songs.

The story begins on the rocky seashore of the Cornwall coast.  The pirates offer a toast to Frederic.  Now that Frederic is twenty-one and his apprenticeship over, the men assume that he will join their band permanently.  Ruth, a “piratical maid of all work’” explains that, as Frederic’s nursery maid, she had been instructed by his father to have the boy apprenticed to a pilot, but she misheard and instead took Frederic to a pirate.  Her shame upon realizing her error led her to join the pirate band herself.

Now that his obligation to the pirates has ended, duty compels Frederic to devote himself to destroying them.  When the men admit their inability to make piracy pay, Frederic explains that they are themselves slaves to their tender hearts, particularly about their refusal to take advantage of anyone they believe to be an orphan.

Ruth longs for Frederic to take her with him when he leaves.  He has had no opportunity to compare her with other women, but when he decides that she should stay with the pirates, they reply that they cannot deprive him of his beloved. Frederic wishes he could bring the pirates back to a respectable life, but the Pirate King rejects that possibility.  Alone with Ruth, Frederic admits his reluctance to marry her, though he is satisfied that, despite her age, she is beautiful.  But when he sees a group of lovely young women approaching, he rages at her for deceiving him.

The girls descend to the shore, delighting in their surroundings.  They are astonished to meet Frederic and horrified to hear that he is a pirate.  He assures them that, having just abandoned that profession, he now wants only to love one of them.  They all reject him except Mabel, who reproaches her sisters for being deaf to pity. The girls distract themselves, so that Frederic and Mabel can have a few moments alone.

The pirates suddenly surprise the girls and expect soon to become their husbands.  Mabel reminds them that she and her sisters are wards in chancery (i.e. minors under the protection of the Court of Chancery), and that their ‘father’ is a major general.  The Major General enters and objects to the girls being married against their wills to the pirates of Penzance. He lies his way out of the situation by claiming to be an orphan.  The girls are released from the pirates’ clutches, as Mabel and Frederic – ignoring the pleas of Ruth – look forward to their marriage.

The girls comfort the Major-General, who is upset because he believes his lie has shamed the family name and he fears the consequences.  Frederic will soon march against the pirates accompanied by the police, who now arrive.  They eventually leave to attend to the business at hand, but only after repeated urging by the Major General.

Alone, Frederic contemplates atoning for his years with the pirates, when Ruth and the Pirate King enter.  They explain that Frederic was to be apprenticed until his twenty first birthday; having been born in a leap year on 29 February, he is officially only five.  The Pirate King insists that Frederic respect his own sense of duty, whereupon the obedient young man informs him that the Major General lied about being an orphan.  The Pirate King and Ruth swear vengeance.

The Major General & The Pirate King, "We Triumph Now."

The Major General & The Pirate King, “We Triumph Now.”

Frederic informs Mabel that he will not reach his twenty-first birthday until 1940.  Convinced that he can ignore the pirates’ claim, she begs him to stay with her and swears to be faithful.  After he leaves, Mabel tells the policemen that Frederic has returned to the pirates, praising him for his sense of duty.  The Sergeant laments the difficulties the constabulary faces.  The policemen hide as soon as the pirates arrive.

Unable to sleep, the Major General enters.  The girls chide him for leaving his bed at this time of night. Frederic and the pirates seize the Major General and overcome the police.  When the Sergeant implores the pirates to yield in the Queen’s name, Ruth reveals that they are peers of the realm.  With this revelation, they are pardoned by the Major-General, who rewards them with the girls’ hands in marriage.

You can’t help but smile, sway to the rhythm of the music, and laugh!

I’ve forgotten what a joy community theater is, and have been renewed in the importance of supporting local community theater.   God bless the arts!

A Day of Celebration

Walking together on the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Valley, WV.

Walking together on the Appalachian Trail in Harpers Valley, WV.

Five years ago today I fell in love with my soulmate.   I certainly wasn’t looking for love, but love found me.   Starting a new relationship was actually neither of our intentions, and especially with a 3,000 mile distance between us.   Yet as we look back on it, we know we were destined to find one another, and the distance was tool to prepare us for a long life together.   If we could get through being separated by distance, we pretty much could get through everything else if he put our heart & soul into it…and we did!

Paul surprised me last night with matching glass evil eye bracelets which he made for us.    I was overjoyed!   We both love evil eyes not only for their ancient symbolism and our favorite cobalt blue color.  They always remind us of our trip to Turkey with friends back in 2011, which besides a trip to The Bahamas, was our first trip abroad together.

We’re simple bears.   We like a lot of the same things.  I think that’s what’s so awesome about us.   So instead of going out to buy a new suit to wear at an overpriced Washington, DC restaurant, we threw on our typical wardrobe, and hit the road for a fun-filled day trip.

Destination:  Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Why Harpers Ferry, you might ask?   We picked Harpers Ferry because  we love history and nature, and it’s only an hour north-west of us!   The history of Harpers Ferry is multi-layered – involving a diverse number of people and events that influenced the course of our nation’s history. Harpers Ferry saw the first successful application of interchangeable manufacture, the arrival of the first successful American railroad, John Brown’s attack on slavery, the largest surrender of Federal troops during the Civil War, and the education of former slaves in one of the earliest integrated schools in the United States.

Paul & I posing in front of the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry.

Paul & I posing in front of the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry.

English colonist Robert Harper was given a 125-acre piece of property ca. 1750 and established a ferry across the Potomac River in 1761, thus making a new town in the Shenandoah Valley for settlers.   Then comes industry, railroad, and the Civil War.   The geography of Harpers Ferry is situated where Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia come together, as well as where the Potomac and Shenandoah River split.   Walking through the “lower end” of town was absolutely fascinating, as we couldn’t help but to carry our imaginations into the past.    What were the smells and sounds?

Like children running free in an amusement park, Paul and I took to the historic buildings, churches, cemeteries, trails, etc.   We stumbled across a cute outdoor patio at the Cannonball Deli for a vegan lunch…a falafel wrap with curly fries.   After gaining some more energy from eating, we hiked back up to the “upper town” and decided to simply drive where it looks even more awesome.

One of many breathtaking views from the bank of the Shenandoah River.

One of many breathtaking views from the bank of the Shenandoah River.

As we’re driving, we’re passing endless areas where we would love to pull over and take a photo of, but realize we would never get anywhere…so we keep driving.   In attempt to find a higher vantage point overlooking Harpers Ferry, we get a little lost and accidentally stumble across another amazing town, Shepherdstown.   This 18th century town is still a very active community offering an abundance of shops, eateries, and points of interest.   We came across a historic building with a big wood sign which read, “O’Hurley’s General Store.”   Curious, (and hoping they’d have a bathroom) we stopped into check it out.   Little did we know this shop and the kindest shopkeeper would become one of the top three highlights of our trip!

Shepherdstown Opera House.

Shepherdstown Opera House.

After getting some more history lessons from the shopkeeper (who had no clue what falafel was), we headed out to explore more of the town.   This meager little town was so full of life and filled with history, personality, and character at every angle.   In 1787, James Rumsey was said to have engineered the first functioning steam engine propelled boat.   So of course he has a quite fabulous monument built in his honor.   Shepherdstown is also home to Shepherd University and it even an opera house which is still used to this day as a picture house.

After some more shop browsing, we headed down to the trails lining the Shenandoah River and simply enjoyed our special day – reminiscing, talking about the things we are passionate about, and enjoying the beauty which was surrounding us.    Can it get any better than that?

So here we are at the five-year mark.   Still in love.   Very much in love.   Engaged, but without a date set.   Where will we be next year or in five years from now?   Only, God knows that.   However I believe in the depths of my heart that our love will still be burning strong.   Perhaps we will think back this day in future anniversaries and reminisce on this newest memory to our adventure in life together.

My Body Will Not Be a Tomb

No Tomb

So here we go…a blog!   Who knew?   As I’m learning : veganism is not a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.   It reaches far beyond improving one’s health, compassion and respect for the kingdom animalia which we cohabit our planet with, and the respect and  protection of our natural resources – it’s a way of life.  It is a proactive way of living, spiritually nourishing one’s soul and opening one’s mind to new thoughts and ideas about the sacredness and even the mysteries of life.

So I started a blog!   I didn’t start this blog to “convince” non-vegans to explore veganism.   Nor did I start this to glorify the lifestyle.   I also didn’t embark in this project to flood this blog with endless, yummy, vegan recipes….though there will be moments for all that in their proper times.   This is more of an experimental outlet me to give my family, friends, and strangers alike a way to tap into my life journey in its entirety.   Perhaps we can journey together, and even learn from one another.   Isn’t that what life’s about?

This is my project to be as whole as I can be!   Call it what you will:  fulfillment, grace, nirvana, enlightenment, content, blessed…not rich, popular, or showcased, but whole.   This is the my journal in the quest to know love, and to be love.  Unconditional love.   Will you join me?

%d bloggers like this: