Archive for September, 2011

Game of Thrones

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Game of Thrones. Officially my favorite series of all time.

My boyfriend, Robert, introduced me to it recently and we watched all of the first season’s shows one after another.  The intrigue, fantasy, scandal, and suspense reeled me in and hooked me.  I was particularly drawn in by the characters, Eddard Stark, Arya Stark, Jon Snow, and Drogo.  My favorite, by far is Daenerys, the submissive turned empowered, Princess of House Targaryen.

Robert had already read the series of books, that I have never heard of before since I am not typically a reader of fantasy or sci-fi novels.  I have already ordered to box set from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/George-Martins-Thrones-4-Book-Boxed/dp/0345529057/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1317402073&sr=8-1

I am eagerly waiting their arrival.  I cannot wait to jump into the seven realms and I cannot wait until Season 2 arrives on HBO this Spring.

Clothing Wars

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I remember a time, not too long ago, when I enjoyed shopping for clothes with my daughter, Elisabeth.  My son, Alex, was eight years old when she was born.  Which meant that I was quarantined to the tiny boy’s section for eight whole years; drowning in khaki shorts and rugged blue polo shirts.

I could pick out Elisabeth’s clothes, cute little funky dresses, fun little striped tights, green and purple shoes, adorable hair accessories.  The world was my oyster and I didn’t do too bad for someone on a very tight budget (most of her clothes came from second-hand stores and Children’s Place Monster Sale).  She happily donned whatever I gave her and never complained about a stitch of clothing, not once.

Forward to real-time, ten years later, approximately one hundred Disney pre-teen episodes in, and a true calling to craving “stylish” and God forbid “cute”- Elisabeth has become a full-fledge individual.  I have encouraged this individuality is so many ways, wanting her to have the strong female self-confidence that was denied me growing up.

So why is it that now when I take her shopping, if I so much as graze my hand over something it is then tainted with “Mom-ness” and is forever to be shunned by her?  When did this happen?  When did she get so picky?  For now dresses will only be tolerated if forced for special occasions.  Skirts and skorts are no longer cool.  She prefers to simply wrap her hair in a plain ponytail with a plain headband each and every day.  All I can think is why won’t she let me pick out her clothes?  Of course, I still have final say on all choices.  I have only lost my ability to say yes, my no is still intact and will remain so for awhile to come.  I can still say yes, pick something out, go home with it, but it will lie in her drawer probably praying to see sunlight just once.

In retrospect, I wrap my hair up in a ponytail, I don’t wear makeup or jewelry, I prefer solids to prints.  I fall in love with a pair of shoes and will wear them until I feel like I have to have a funeral at their demise.  Did I pass this plainness to her?  She is so beautiful and so cool, why won’t she let me pick out the clothes I wish I could wear?  Perhaps my own longings are the issue here.  Even as a teenager I had long hair I almost never cut, no makeup, wore a plain t-shirt and jeans.  That’s it.  I always looked at the girls that could pull off funky, stylish clothes and wish I could too. I didn’t have it in me.  Later I learned to dress a bit more individually, shocking my friends at times with my eclectic style.  However, more often than not, I choose comfort every time.

So after I weigh all of the facts and causes, I should be happy that Elisabeth is becoming a self-confidant and individually strong young woman.  I rarely ever say “inappropriate” when she chooses something and there is nothing wrong with her decisions.

I should be content with this, but there is always a pang in my heart when I pick something up and her eyes begin rolling, a “Really?!” about to roll off her tongue as “This is so cute” is about to roll off of mine.

Double Parking: My New Pet Peeve While Driving to Work

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Driving back and forth from Brooklyn (where I work) to Queens (where I live) has been a wild adventure into the chaos that is NYC streets.  While I have found less congested routes, thanks to my resourceful boyfriend, Robert, I still feel apprehensive every time I embark on this journey.

The main reason driving to and fro is mindboggling is: double-parked cars or worse, double parked trucks.  Why is it that if my meter runs out, I am plastered with a ticket in a second after those numbers become 0:00?  However, no matter how many traffic cops I see, I never see anyone ticket a double parked car?

This week I encountered a whole new style of double parking on Dean Street.  Alternate side of the street parking rules were in effect, at least 5 cars remained parked on the wrong side, presumably waiting for the ticket fairy to come.  I don’t care if people want to get a ticket, however there is a bike lane on this already incredibly narrow street, most likely made originally for horse carriages and not motorized machines.  I have no problems with bike lanes either.  What I do have a problem with is people that are obviously too lazy to search for a proper parking space, parking next to the bike lane and the legally parked vehicles along side of it.  These people actually LEAVE there cars on the street in long lines, crowding the entire street!  When they are double parked parallel to a parked car on the other side of the street, it becomes almost impossible to safely pass.

I don’t know why this is allowed to happen.  I don’t understand why this allowed on such narrow streets.  I do know I am tired of this peculiar obstacle course that I need to embark on when driving to work.

According to DOT: Double parking of passenger vehicles is illegal at all times, including Alternate Side Parking Regulation days, regardless of location, purpose or duration.

I understand that parking is hard to find in certain areas of NYC, who are we kidding? All areas of NYC. However, this local tradition of double parking and the authorities turning a blind eye, should perhaps be contained to streets wide enough to accommodate this practice.

An Interesting Weekend Alone

Monday, September 26th, 2011

As my daughter spent the weekend with her father, I spent most of it as a homebody catching up on work, painting things around the house and watching pointless television (something I rarely do).

This weekend marked a whole month in our new apartment and new neighborhood.  While homesick thoughts do set in momentarily at times, overall I think we are getting a hang of living in Queens.  Brooklyn will always be a pivotal part of me, but exploring a new borough can be the fresh change my soul has secretly been craving.

The highlight of my weekend was attending a “National Symposium: Think Outside the Cell: A New Day, A New Way” at the Riverside Church in the city.  A friend I met at Vassar College, Marlon Peterson, invited me through Facebook and I was curious about the topic, so I braved the weekend subway (which was no joke-six trains just to get there…What do you mean the F train isn’t running?).

I missed the first portion of the speeches, which made me sad because my friend was on the panel.  However, I caught the afternoon discussions.  The topic was issues affecting the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their families.  I knew little about the issue walking in, but felt enlightened walking out.

I am probably like most people when I think about prison.  I never want to go, I never want my kids to go, I never want anyone I know to have to go.  I have known a few people that have done time, however they got out and moved on with life.

Listening to the people on the panel speak, made me think again.  What if you get out and cannot move on with life?  You know that little check box on employment forms and college forms that asks if you have ever committed a crime?  What if you have to check yes?  Even though you paid for your crime in prison and with your youth?  It seems you will be marked for life with that little box.  As one of the panelists, Michelle Alexander said, “Locked out of housing, employment, and food.”

The topics and questions brought up were:

What about their families?  How do they survive?  If there are 2.3 million men and women incarcerated in U.S. prisons, that means millions of families are affected as well. They committed no crime, yet they must be punished as well for loving someone that went to prison.  How are their communities affected?

Why is punishment the sole objective when people end up in prison?  Why not assist them with their re-entry into society, by honing their skills and realizing their potential?  Why not attend college while in prison when they have nothing but time?  Federal funding for this has been discontinued, even though it has been proven that those that receive a college education while in prison are less likely to return and better able to re-enter society.

“We are not our past. We are not our mistakes.” – Joe Robinson

Why are Vermont and Maine the only two states that allow prisoners to vote?  Are they not still U.S. citizens?

The panel went on to discuss many other important aspects of the consequences and costs on human life during and after being incarcerated.  It was extremely interesting and I urge to check out their website to learn more about the issues being faced by so many: http://www.thinkoutsidethecell.org/

“About 2.3 million people are behind bars in the United States. Disproportionately Black and Latino, about 650,000 leave state and federal prisons each year. The stigma of incarceration is a roadblock to their rights as citizens and creates untold hardships for their families and impoverished communities. The Think Outside the Cell Foundation works to end the stigma and to help the incarcerated, the formerly incarcerated and their loved ones through literacy, education, personal development and the removal of societal barriers to the American Dream.”

-Think Outside the Cell Foundation-Sheila Rule and Joe Robinson

Klimt and Art Nouveau

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

During the latter part of the 19thcentury, the European and American art communities began to fall away from the harsh and severe constraints of the Victorian Era and Industrial Revolution. “The new art” or Art nouveau made its way into the lives of everyday people from 1890-1910, through decorative furniture, architecture, products, fashion and in traditional art pieces. Art Nouveau was a rejection of the previous historical approach to art and depicted an organic flow with free and graceful lines. Gustav Klimt’s piece, Three Ages of Women, 1905, is an astounding example of this period.

In the latter part of the 1800s printing and mass production inventions allowed for artists to reach a large population of “everyday people”, where before the industrial revolution this was not possible. The industrial revolution was a catalyst for the urban environment and commercial media. Meanwhile the Victorian Era’s elaborate design work was full of romantic notions portraying a desire to return to a simpler life. However, both time periods clashed with one another in social movements that transcended into art. Led by William Morris (1834-96), the Arts and Crafts movement rejected these previous periods and wished to keep the integrity and individuality of each hand worked piece at the forefront of society.

As art and the idea of design was finding its way into mass society, artists felt freer to deviate from the previous classic artwork of the past, such as neo-classicism, Romanticism, Medievalism, etc.  Instead, artists began to experiment with new techniques and began to look to the Far East for inspiration.  The art movement of Japan, Ukiyo-e, meaning “pictures of the floating world” amazed European artists and caused them to realize a new way of depicting a scene.  Ukiyo-e was an innovative method of subjects and landscapes suggesting impressionistic qualities, simplifying lines while utilizing bold black shapes and decorative patterns.  Japanese art gave way to the Art Nouveau period, motivating artists with a variety of new ideas and techniques that displayed individual expression rather than detailed depictions. During this period artists that previously worked with past styles and media began to experiment in an exciting new world of decadence and freedom from the restraints of art being standardized in any one way.

Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) was an Austrian painter and co-founder of the Vienna Secession, or the Viennese version of art nouveau.   Klimt began in 1883 as an artist/decorator, painting murals in the Museum of Vienna.  Perhaps his largest accomplishment was the Beethoven Frieze (1905-09), a cycle of mosaic decorations for Josef Hofman’s Palais Stoclet in Brussels.  Klimt was inspired by many styles including classical Greek, Byzantine, Egyptian, and Minoan art.  As well as, late-medieval painting, woodcuts of Albert Durer, symbolist art to name a few; Klimt incorporated all of these sources into a fresh and eclectic style combining symbolism and art nouveau.

Klimt’s Three Ages of Women invokes a very primal connection between women in various stages of life and death.  Klimt’s use of mosaics of different colors, shapes, the flowing lines, the gold leaf accents and the abstract yet detailed female forms are typical of this new age of decadence.  The symbolism of dark shadow cast over the old woman, and the light embracing the mother and child, are utter reminders of the cycle of life.  The contrasting colors of red on the bed, nude dark wrinkled skin (the old woman) and blue on the bed and clothing against the pale, nude youthful bodies (the mother and child) are set against an impressionistic type dark background. The textures and colors are interchangeably muted and bright throughout Klimt’s painting creating a swirl of emotion. The elongated bodies and distorted angles of the females were part of the “art nouveau” female depiction of the time. Klimt often used sexuality, regeneration, life and death as primal dominant themes in his work, Three Ages of Women is an example of all of these aspects his individual style.

Source: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/klimt/

Procrastination

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Why do I feel as if I am waiting for my life to begin as I am living? Does everyone feel this way to some extent? I need to start writing in earnest and stop procrastinating. My blog awaits and I have to focus around the daily hustle and bustle to get it done. Perhaps tomorrow I will begin….

We just moved to a new apartment in a new neighborhood in a new borough.  The past year has been the hardest in my life and I am looking forward to pockets of time that I may be completely bored.  Bored like a kid on a summer day, staring at cracks in the ceiling and bouncing a ball on the pavement for an hour in lieu of nothing better to do.  Contemplating whining to my mother, ” I am so bored!  There’s nothing to do!”, even if she just got nasty and screamed to “go outside and play already!”

I wish I could go back and tell the younger version of myself to savor those hours of boredom that will be ripped away from her as an adult.  Those sweet moments of sheer nothingness that I would love to have within my reach now, my head clear and full of nothing but a canvas of imagination and no worries or responsibilities.

This is my delicious and recurrent daydream.