Thursday, November 26, 2015

If We Love, We All Agree

This time of year is meant to fill with peace and trust and love,
No matter what beliefs you have from under or above.

From Jesus Christ to Aphrodite,  Budda to Allah,
For me it's all the same, preaching great love, forgiving flaws.

While walking round the streets of cities paved in different lights,
I hope to share a smile instead of fearing heated fights.

Embracing all diversity, its beauty and its charm,
While striving to consider why on earth it leads to harm.

I can't imagine life in which we all should look the same,
In action or beliefs, in our opinions, even names.

The brilliance of humanity is based on having choice,
To do and think and love and speak it all in joyous voice.

So when you sit today and have a meal with friends and fam,
Take time to think of others from contrasting lives and lands.

Send hope and kind acceptance to the ones who are in need,
A dose of great perspective to the selfish teaching greed.

Then pass the hugs around, with luck assisted by some wine,
To health and all the good things we should focus our dear time.

A turkey and some pie is had in thankful memory,
Reminding everyone that if we love, we all agree.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Something To Say

I have been reticent to write anything about what happened in Paris a little over a week ago. Partly because there are very few ways to ramble sentiments without being tragically cliché and partly because I am one of those people who was frankly least affected by the entire thing. I was home in my apartment completely across town and I was fortunate enough not to have any friends or family near the danger zones. I had spent the early part of my day cleaning my apartment and the latter part at my job, all in the 16th arrondissement. I grabbed some McDonald's on the way home because I didn't have anything in reserve and I was frankly settling down to read and sleep in preparation for an early day to follow. While chit chatting on whatsapp with my dear friend in Vienna, he all of a sudden messaged that there had been shootings in Paris. I almost immediately got an email from a friend at home who must have been watching the news at the same time. He wanted to know where I was and if I was ok. Over the course of the next couple of hours, my friend in Vienna gave me updates from his 300 channels while I struggled to find information on the internet. Texts and emails poured in and I had to assure all that I was safe and well away from danger.

But the truth is, I easily could have been in any of those places on a friday night. I have pictures of myself and friends at Le Carillon four years ago. A week prior I was in the same neighborhood taking a writing workshop and wandering around on a friday night to similar bars and restaurants with my new writing compatriots. The difference between this act of terrorism and previous ones us westerners have been touched by was that it was open warfare on civilians rather than government buildings or political antagonists. It doesn't make it right that something terrible happening in Paris gets more news time and recognition than other parts of the world, but it does make it feel more real. Because I have seen and been and walked the streets where fallen bodies lie.

I don't know enough about high politics and terrorist groups and conspiracy theories to sift through and decipher whatever truth and propaganda we read in an age of overwhelming mass media. I am sad for those who were affected in a city I love. I am sad for anyone anywhere in any country who has to deal with such absurdist views of humanity and what is right. I am outlandishly thankful for the friends and family who reached out and shared their love with me then and since... and frankly always. If we share more of those sentiments we might be able to make a difference. Love.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Piratical Penmanship

Amidst working nonstop for days and days on end, intermingled with occasional social outings that tend to culminate in foolhardy hangover, I managed to at long last carve a creative engagement into my agenda last weekend. I signed up for a creative writing workshop months ago and managed to stave off students for a whole day and a half, a miracle in and of itself these days. 

I found this particular workshop through a meetup site I get frequent emails from, and once I looked into the details was very intrigued by the prospect. Friday would be focused on fiction, saturday poetry, and sunday for the purpose of sharing whatever fruits we had grown from our labor. I signed up for friday and sunday only, party because I knew I couldn't escape work that long, but also because I am very protective about my specific and rather silly brand of poem. Since I have never before engaged in a writing workshop of any kind, I was simultaneously excited and rather nervous to share my wordsmithery. The good news, however, is that when I finally paid attention to the address and arrived at the location (ten minutes late because I was just not paying attention to the metro stops), I realized that the bookshop we were instructed to find was in fact on a boat! Not that I am really a nautical gal, but my affinity for piracy is such that writing on a small ship on the Seine for the afternoon, abandoning all landlubbbers for the seafaring thoughts of a wandering dreamer, seemed just the ticket! I daintily boarded the vessel and found myself in the bowels of the cutest little bookstore imaginable. 

Since I certainly can't help but make a noticeable entrance, I frolicked into the little room of writers positioned in the rear of the bookboat and made my introductions. It was a small group, only about 7 of us, and we all jumped right on in to some writing exercises. We spent the morning developing characters we concocted by thinking of someone we saw on the street, either en route to the meeting or a day or two before. We discussed character, setting, dialogue, plot, and then in the afternoon we either proceeded with our new stories or worked on something we had brought from previous efforts. I decided to do the latter because I have had an idea brewing in my head for years now and I really wanted to find some way of propelling it forward. Though I was rather hesitant to share, I ended up delighted by people's feedback and support in finding some direction for my tale. 

It is always a bit of a crapshoot when sharing work with other artists. Under the best of circumstances, there is positive feedback, constructive criticism and truly appreciative support. Under other circumstances, there can be unhelpful comments, petty rivalries and envious subterfuge. Fortunately for me, I experienced the former in abundance. After our day's work, we all planned to have dinner together at an Ethiopian restaurant. Many of our party had actually traveled in from other cities and countries for the event, so it was a wonderful opportunity to try some new food, see a bit of the city, and also get to know each other outside of the workshop setting. It was such a friendly bunch that by sunday afternoon when we all shared our work back in the galley, we felt really comfortable and delighted in each other's successes. I think we are all happy to have met some fellow writers from around the globe and are truly looking forward to the next workshop at sea.