Sunday, December 30, 2007

Favorite December Moments

1. Eating (and saying) "Sweet Nuts" at the Dickens Fair with Amanda, Anna, Becky, David
2. Sharing new year's hopes over Swiss fondue at Matterhorn with Amanda, Anna, David (and of course, Dan - a given in most of these!)
3. Napping in the car on the edge of the Pescadero cliffs as the waves crashed in below us
4. Hobnobbing at the Guardian and Anchor Steam Christmas parties
5. The "onesy" show and 'Slap talk' over a rousing birthday meal for Manka at 1300 on Fillmore with Amanda, Anna and Karen
6. Ongoing "What Not to Wear" commentary & a Papalote lunch with Ali
7. Hearing Bobby's amazing story at the Old First Pres. homeless dinner
8. Watching unexpected fireworks from Scott & Louise's library window
9. Observing a brilliantly colored hummingbird with Dan in Golden Gate Park's Arboretum
10. Fresh mango hamachi roll at Ariake on a Tuesday lunch with Chesna
11. The best Corned Beef on Rye at a weekday Vitrine lunch with Dannee
12. Afternoon movie escape with Manka to see "The Kite Runner", dissecting the film (compared to the book) and the emotions it stirred over drinks at the St. Regis afterwards
13. Drinking free wines and ports in Sonoma with Dan on a crisp day
14. Drunkin' Pumpkin cocktails at Fish & Farm for my birthday dinner with Manka, Anna, Amanda, Scott, Louise and Dannee
15. Another two hour talk of tears and prayer with my Kristy in Australia
16. Reading "Dracula" aloud with Anna by candlelight over peppermint hot chocolate as "The Village" plays hauntingly in the background
17. The entire week Dan & I spent in Oklahoma with Mom, Dad, Drew, Amy & my relatives
18. One of, if not the, best dinner of my life at Michael Mina with my man for my birthday
Currently watching:
Jesus Camp

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the dignity of a hidden world

Reading about Edith Stein in Patricia Hampl's, "I Could Tell You Stories" (note the gorgeous phrase about her love of Latin language: "[she spoke in Latin whenever] her passion quickened at the edge of the inexpressible"), I am struck by these passages:

"... her 'conviction that I was destined for something great'. Such greatness should not be confused with mere ambition, for ambition revolves endlessly, and finally hopelessly, around the individual's sense of stardom... The urge towards greatness, on the other hand, is oddly aligned with humility. The purpose is not the fulfillment of a self, or its aggrandizement, but the deft insertion of the self into an overwhelming design... It always carries as well a charge of relation, of service... Ultimately, a life seeking greatness is about the loss of the self in the service of a more complete reality. It is a disappearing act."

She's described as not for 'evangelism', though she was a Jew who converted to Catholicism and became a nun, yet was killed as a Jew in the Holocaust. She seemed to understand the sacredness of God's communication with each person, well acquainted with mystery: "... the dignity of her 'hidden world'... her strangely instinctive solitude... the mystery of her conversion... what she knew each person must find alone, in the locked tabernacle of the self."

Currently listening: The Village
By: James Newton Howard

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Wisdom of Milosz

I'm reading a number of books lately that weigh on my spirit in ways I cannot assuage... this is the outcome every time I hear of the persecutions the majority of the world suffers in our time. I read "The Kite Runner", "Jia: A Novel of North Korea" (by Hyejin Kim) and of Eastern Europe under the Iron Curtain through Czeslaw Milosz. I am always chilled and humbled by the ease we have known in America. Will I "escape" the horror men do to one another? Most of all, why cannot we stop it all from happening? I feel helpless in the wake of the gruesome woes done to human beings every day.

"...unless we can relate to it ourselves personally, history will always be more or less of an abstraction, and its content the clash of impersonal forces and ideas... Doubtless every family archive that perishes... every effacement of the past reinforces classifications and ideas at the expense of reality."

Of his faith: "... [the newfound] bitterness of dualism, the Absolute saved at this price, intoxicated me like the feel of a harsh surface after a smooth one that is impossible to grasp."

"... the individual who lives his journey from childhood to old age against an almost unchanging background, whose habits are never disrupted by the ups and downs of the social order, is too susceptible to the melancholy of things that are simply here, yet are opaque..." - from "Native Realm" - Czeslaw Milosz
Currently watching:
No Country for Old Men

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Winter's Chill

Shifting through dreamy otherworlds of culinary bliss
Roaming the streets of Londontown as it once was
Singing free like Maria on the peaks of Austria

Transported back to Switzerland's pine wood warmth
Hobnobbing with those who might shed some light,
drinking with those whose names I cannot know

Southern goodness with laughter so hard it becomes tears
Dinners with those without homes
who reflect refreshingly tender humanness

Plants of the world, breathing in the dead of winter
Running the moors of England
through their imprisoned passion

Drinking eggnog in an 1800's tavern
Befriending exotic birds on a farm
Picking out our own little tree of green

Staring into eyes that accept me fully
In the glowing blue light of our home
Warmed from Winter's Chill by love
Currently watching : The Lives of Others

Thursday, December 06, 2007

where you can say anything...

Some lines from passages I liked while reading Patricia Hampl's "A Romantic Education" this week:

p. 11 "For the first time the lilacs came to me nostalgically because I noticed them... the knowledge that objects carry their dense bundles of significance out of unconsciousness all the way to - I could almost sense it ahead - the end of the line. To death."
p. 15 "Finding one's 'voice' is, essentially, getting to the point where you can say anything."
p. 63 "... I wanted a city. Not a town, not even the capital of Minnesota, but a city. It was the Midwestern desire that, in part, creates or sustains the empire quality of New York, of Gotham. New York, left to its own devices, without Podunk dreams and ambitions flying to it generation after generation, would hardly be a city, but a collection of steamy, squabbly neighborhoods where everybody is selling sandwiches to each other, the ethnic diversity forever unmelted."
p. 90 "My aunt and uncle were aesthetes. The art of living was their form."
p. 97 "But trying is exactly what beauty is not. Beauty is the absence of effort. It is the casualness that announces: this person is special, was born special."
p. 112 "[Referring to feminism]: We Aren't Beautiful, Lovely is Lousy, Female is Ugly. But we didn't mean that either. We meant... but that is the suicidal part: it is hard to sever the cords that tie us to our slavery and leave intact those that bind us to ourselves."
p. 237 "Only a city can sustain the truth of this fact of beauty - the brokenness - because, unlike an old woman who was once beautiful, a city can perfectly balance, in its architecture, the fresh loveliness of form and the ruined, irreplacable qualities of age."

Currently reading :
Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons
By Frederick Buechner