For many of you, this might be the first formal announcement of my planned trip to Paris for the month of April to celebrate my 75th birthday.
Gregory and I spent 10 days in Paris ten years ago. Our going was in part thanks to friends Chuck and John who were going in April 2009 and gave us an enthusiastic YES when I asked if Gregory and I could join.
We would not need to be with them all the time and would strike out on our own but being there with them gave me the strength and bravery to go to Europe again (had been to Italy twice) especially as Gregory was progressing with his Alzheimer's Journey.
While Mexico, Italy, and Spain were wonderful adventures, Paris was the most monumental and best adventure on which Gregory and I had ever been. Funny aside, so monumental (literally) that in the beginning, I had trouble taking photographs because nothing would fit into the frame of my camera! Eventually, I learned how to see smaller monumental components of the monumental buildings, streets, cafes, museums, Metra, etc. that are Paris.
For Gregory especially, Paris was part of a bigger dream come true which would be for any architect who was also pretty much an expert in historical sites. One adult life long ambition of his was to visit Vaux le Vicomte, just outside of Paris, which we were able to do.
I just finished watching some old programs about Paris by travel expert Rick Steves. I found myself crying fairly often as he moved from one important place to the next. I realized that my upcoming April in Paris adventure will be wonderful but at times difficult.
First because of the memories of being there with Gregory yet this time not being able to physically share the emotions of the adventure with him.
Next, I will be there alone and will have to navigate the language, the food, the Euro, the Metra and other transportation, the museum tickets, and timelines on my own.
Also, while I will remain positive, there are always the possibilities of personal health issues making the journey a little more difficult than it was ten years ago.
Finally, when I haven't traveled for a while, a sort of ennui or fear settles in and causes me to doubt myself being strong enough to get on a Metra, find the way to the museum, on the right day, purchase a ticket, navigate the crowds, experience the important exhibits, find meals, be out after dark, take risks, get myself lost in exciting unique neighborhoods, find my way out, and get myself back to the Paris apartment again.
That being said there is also the reverse fear that I will miss out on things, not be in the right place at the right time, etc.
There are a number of things that I did not do last time while in Paris with Gregory because of my mild claustrophobia and I am determined to overcome them this time and not to miss out.
Bless XANAX! Bless finances not being an issue. Bless my having purchased my airplane tickets and renting an apartment despite my fears! Watch this space for more.
This came across my Facebook Messages a short while back. I continue to be grateful when hearing how people reacted to and benefited from the documentary ALZHEIMER'S: A Love Story. And it in some ways continue to amaze me that it has had such an impact on so many!
I just watched the Alzheimer’s story on HereTV, and want to applaud you. Your dedication was tremendous and a true love story. My partner, also named Gregory passed away last November from a rare disease called AL Amyloidosis. The last year of his life was a special time for me as it brought me closer to him and allowed me to appreciate our 17 years more thoroughly. The last 41 days were spent at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, and I stayed with him daily there with hopes of recovery. Watching him die was precious in a way as it was something only I could experience. Watching the show tonight brought many tears, and I felt I could relate in an odd way. I applaud your strength and dedication to Gregory. We both have been blest. I hope your life is at a happier place.
Interesting that when my life is calm, when I have no majorly pressing decisions, when my health is for the most part in place ... my need to write is diminished. I have also notice that since Gregory passed, my need to pour out poetry is almost gone.
At first, I lamented the disappearance of both and felt I should call out an All Points Bulletin to force myself to find where both had gone to. Then I realized that it is not that they have disappeared, the need behind them has disappeared. Make sense?
Work on "GREGORY: An Alzheimer's Love Story Musical," continues to move inch by inch to the magnificent mile that I imagine the musical could be. It exists completed in my mind's eyes. The story, the sets, the costumes, the actors, the music, the words, the dancing, the sorrow, the joy, the humor, the terror. They all exist. Now I need to birth it.
There are other writing projects that I might revitalize. I have at least a dozen children's picture book stories, the most notable being "My Kitty is a Memory Now," which is a story about my cat Mirah and my dealing with her death. Perhaps the book will help children deal with the death not only of pets but also family and friends who die.
Perhaps I should try my hand at fiction and write my first novel (or start with a short story at least) but for some reason creating life doesn't really interest me. My strength comes with recreating existing life and possibly giving it order and shedding light on its meaning.
Anyway, a sabbatical from writing seems fair and better than calling it writer's block. Don't you agree? Happy Thanksgiving. I am off to put out my Christmas decorations early so I have time to bake cookies!
Wow, it has been almost a month since I've written. Partly my travels to NYC released some of the "need to write" and working yet again on another editing of my musical (new working name "GREGORY") and my memoirs have taken up a lot of my free time.
This morning a Facebook post prompted this: 1) The Heart Sūtra (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya or Chinese: 心經 Xīnjīng) is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its Sanskrit title, Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, can be translated as "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom." 2) The sutra famously states, "Form is empty" (śūnyatā). Individual identity does not exist! 3) Since there is no INDIVIDUAL identity (the piece of paper having in it the tree, the sun, the rain, the logger, his family, the food his mother prepares for him, the manufacturing company, etc are all part of the paper's identity) then we are all one. 4) We need to respect each other, not judge eachother be good to ourselves and to eachother, take care of each other as we can. The "I" of me does not exist separately than any other person, The flower is empty of a separate existence, but that doesn’t mean that the flower is not there. 5) The Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh has used the phrase, ‘The Insight that Brings Us to the Other Shore,’ because in the mantra there is the expression pāragate which means ‘gone over to the other shore, the shore of wisdom’. Pārāyana and pāramitā have both been translated as ‘crossing over to the other shore.’ In the Sutta Nipāta there is a chapter called Pārāyana which has also been translated as ‘crossing over to the other shore.’ 6) This helps me deal with death as it says that there is no form in life or death, therefore, there is no life and death. Death, something we all seem to fear and suffer with as soon as we reach the sentient age, is made up of everything that goes before, during, and after it. 7) We all breath. (The main tenet of meditation.) We all die (perhaps the main tenet of life.) No exceptions. Therefore neither has a separate identity. Death is empty of a separate existence, but that doesn’t mean that death is not there. For me, this idea makes it a little easier to live with (pun intended) dying. 8) Thich Nhat Hanh's interpretations - https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/letters/thich-nhat-hanh-new-heart-sutra-translation/
Sometime after I have closed the lights and prepare to sleep, my cat arrives. Gigi is her name.
She steps onto my ankle at the bottom of the bed and pauses while she gets her balance.
She slowly walks up my calf, takes a left at my knee and proceeds up my thigh.
There she carefully steps onto my hip and again pauses to gain traction.
She slowly climbs each rib-step arriving at my shoulder and pausing for clarity.
She then steps at an angle past my chin, cheek, and ear, onto the pillow, finally arriving at the "dog/cat go-round in circles eventually settling down to lie down routine."
After she arrives at the optimal position to be able to curl up, while purring she braces her hind legs against my chest to push herself into place, with her head cupped in my half-asleep waiting left hand while my right hand supports her hind legs. Now she is ready for sleep.
Of course, by then I am fully awake but I relish each movement, each moment of her navigated journey towards snuggling in with me which I take as a sign of human/animal communication and exchange of trust and love.
Day of the Dead in Mexico represents a mixture of Christian devotion and Pre-Hispanic traditions and beliefs. During the pre-Hispanic era, death did not exist. Death was seen, instead, as simply a transition, a voyage through time and space towards true life.
The celebrations take place on two days. The souls of the dead children arrive on October 31st. As they depart on November 1st, their place is taken by the souls of the adults.
On these days, the deceased are believed to receive divine permission to visit friends and relatives on earth and to share the pleasure of living once again.
While the deceased are represented in skeletal form, the celebrations are not macabre, but rather portrayed with love, humor, and affections by both artists and participants.
On both days, the living and the dead are reunited at grave sites and home alters that are adorned with flowers, candles, sugar skulls (Calaveras,) skeleton figures, and the favorite food and drink of the departed.
The altar includes four main elements of nature: 1) Earth is represented by food and it is believed that the souls are fed by the aroma of food. 2) Wind is represented by a moving object, usually tissue paper flags (Papel Picado.) 3) Water is represented by a glass of water for the souls to quench their thirst after the long journey to the alter. 4) Finally, fire is represented by wax candles, one for each soul remembered and an extra one for the forgotten soul.
The dead are never forgotten because once a year they take their places beside the living to enjoy their love and the fruits and flowers of the earth.
“Space will only have a life when people enter it. So the important role architecture can play, and that space plays within that architecture, is to encourage an interaction between people, between people and the ideas being presented in the paintings and sculpture, and most importantly between people themselves.” These are the words of self-taught, iconic architect Tadao Ando (b.1941), architect of Wrightwood 659.
The design of galleries and museums features prominently in Tadao Ando’s architectural oeuvre. While the Japanese architect launched his career by designing acclaimed houses, he soon accepted commissions for galleries and museums. Although the programmatic requirements displaying art vary greatly from those of single and multi-family houses designed for private clients, Ando draws from these different architectural types to create ‘domestic’ atmospheres that allow visitors to experience the art within intimate, light-filled, cast concrete spaces. The following photographs are of the 569 Wrightwood Museum itself. The exhibit featured photographs and models of Ando's other work. See the museum's fall guide here: https://wrightwood659.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/WW659_IshidaAndo_Guide_2019Fall_online.pdf