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    On Being

    I stared at the reflection in the window of the flickering candle, the flame dancing erratically, almost spasmodically, drawing me in.  As I watched, as I stared, the world around me faded into blackness until nothing was left save me and the image in the glass.  Even the original candle had disappeared, lost in the nothingness that surrounded me.  I was entranced, hypnotized, lulled into a world not of my making.

    My mind drifted and unwittingly let down its guard.  This allowed the melting, the edges fading and disappearing, the bending of a normally rigid barrier around reality.  They appeared slowly, in degrees; first as mere flickers, then quick blurs speeding by, then as small clouds pulsating with light and energy.  They seemed to come through a doorway that I couldn't see, into a world that was no longer my own.  They broadcast love and hope, encouragement and peace.  They surrounded me and filled my cosmos, asking me to open up and to allow them in.  They invited me to dance and to celebrate with them, to rejoice at being alive and being a part of this experience, this creation, this here and now.

    And I knew - without learning, without hearing, without being told, I just knew - that countless other worlds exist.  Infinite other places, where black is white and white is gray, where upside down is sideways and things are never what they seem.  That we are in one of many, one possibility out of hundreds and thousands and millions, each one with its own unbearable beauty if only we learn to see it, and its own heartrending ugliness which we must learn to see beyond.  What is here - what is now - these things are fleeting, ephemeral, passing by, even though they seem to be our everything.  We are a dot, a speck, an iota containing an entire universe.  We are overwhelmingly gigantic and infinitesimally small at the same time, and to learn to live - to learn to let go - to learn to be - is to accept this and dance.

    This is what they showed me, through visions I cannot explain.  This is what they taught me, without words or sounds, as they engulfed me and lifted me.  And as they left, I longed for them to return, I craved to be with them still.



    Well, a new year.  Similar to Christmas, I had no idea it was New Year's Eve yesterday.  A friend of mine emailed me to say that he had finally figured out what he was going to do for New Year's Eve, and nothing like waiting until the last minute!  And I thought, Why is it last minute?  OH.  Because it WAS New Year's Eve.  Yikes.

    And today we start a new year, and I think I realized part of why I've lost concept of where in the year we are - I don't have any calendars on the wall.  I got up today to switch over everything from 2013 to 2014, and I realized that I don't have anything to switch over.  Huh.  It's all electronic now.  Luckily, a friend of mine got me a monthly calendar for Christmas, so I am going to hang that up, and hopefully it'll help.

    It was a quiet end to 2013 and beginning of 2014 for me, which was perfect.  And just what I needed.

    Here's to a good rest of the year.


    Coffee and Christmas

    "The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup."

    Who else remembers that commercial?  Quite a catchy little jingle.

    But - I disagree.  The best part of waking up?  I'll tell you what it is.  It's when you wake up on a cold, cold morning.  You scurry to the bathroom to take care of some business.  Then you realize that you have nowhere to be, and so you climb back into the warm, comfortable bed and snuggle under the sheets and blankets, with cats cuddling up next to you.  (Okay, the cats are optional.)  That, my friends, is the best part of waking up.  Although if I have to stay awake, then yes, coffee is the next best thing.

    And then what?  What about once we're awake?  And when we have to go out and face the world?  The best part of that is knowing that we're not alone.  That we have friends and family and loved ones who are by our side, emotionally if not physically.  Knowing that we have the ability, we have the choice, to rely on those who care for us, and to rely on our own selves, to choose to make it the best day it can be.  To embrace the good things that happened and to release the other things that happened.  To change our perspective from something like, "I was bored all day, I had nothing to do" to "I am grateful for such a low-key day, where I was able to recharge."

    Tis the season where we can sometimes be forced to feel jolly.  But tis also the season of cold, dark, long nights and expectations that we may or may not want placed on us.  Tis the season where it is easy to overdo it - perhaps with food, drink, shopping, or even family time.  (Come on, you know I'm not wrong.)  Make it also the season to stop, look around and appreciate everything exactly as it is.  Because there's a lot to be grateful for.



    Macbeth - arguably Shakespeare's greatest work.  With themes of Fate, treason, dedication, insanity and more, it is a very rich work.

    This past weekend, my friend Brian and I headed up to see the latest production of this play, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater (which is part of Lincoln Center).  We decided to go and make an amazing weekend of it.

    Saturday, I took the train up from Trenton, and we rendez-vous'ed at the hotel.  We had booked a room to share in The Plaza.  The Plaza!  Right at the corner of Central Park.  I felt like such a fake as I went in there.  Because I clearly do not have the annual salary that the other guests do.  Crazy.  But we checked in and headed upstairs.

    The room - a suite, actually - was gorgeous.  Not as big as I was imagining, but then again, this is New York City.  That being said, every inch of it was magnificent and beautiful.  We chose to spend the rest of the afternoon just lounging around, relaxing and talking in the living area.  We ordered a pot of coffee via room service ($32 total, thankyouverymuch) and sipped the luxurious beverage from the bone china cups, with actual silver spoons next to them.

    Then it was time for dinner.  We actually hadn't planned anything ahead of time, so thanks to Google Maps, we ended up at Brasserie 8 1/2.  It was so cool!  The restaurant is actually one floor below the street, and there is this amazing staircase that you walk down.  And the food - yum.  I had lamb, and we shared two sides: mac & cheese with bacon and Brussels sprouts with pancetta.  It was delicious.

    After that, it was off to the show.  The theater wasn't as far as I had thought it was, so we were able to walk, and we arrived in plenty of time.  I (of course) bought a coffee mug, as I always do, but this time I also bought something more: a beautiful wooden spoon, the kind you'd use when cooking.  And on the handle is engraved (etched?) the words "MACBETH: Double, double, toil and trouble" on the handle.  It's sooo cool.

    Then - into the theater and into our seats.  The theater was really nice.  It has a circular stage, which goes up to be about four stories high maybe.  Then there are the seats in a semi-circle, plus two balconies.  And boy, they made use of that space.

    I don't know who all is involved in this play, but it needs to win some awards.  The lighting was astounding.  When Lady Macbeth first appears on the stage, there are flowers that are lit from above and look very, very red.  Then she comes on stage lit only from one side, so you can only see half of her face.  Breath-taking.  And the costumes are BRILLIANT.  Hecate, who is with the three witches - her hair, her dress, her make-up...all of it is astounding.  The three witches themselves - referred to as "The Weird Sisters" at least once in the play - are actually played by men in these crazy, dark, striking outfits; the one wears a long, back cape and a woman's dark blue dress.  Their make up is not to be believed.

    There are some special effects (lightning, for instance), a lot of great lighting, sounds and some occasional music, and it all comes together to be an incredible performance.

    Now, this is Shakespeare, and they are using his words, so there are times where I didn't quite follow along; that's to be expected, I think.  And it was more that I couldn't understand or grasp certain lines, but I could understand the plot well enough.  Also, I had read it, albeit quite a long time ago.

    And the actors.  First, of course, Ethan Hawke as Macbeth.  Just wonderful.  Some other personal favorites: Francesca Faridany as Hecate; John Glover as one of the witches; Daniel Sunjata as Macduff; Jonny Orsini as Malcolm (whom I really loved mostly because he has really nice hair, which, sadly, is short in the picture).  But truly, everyone was amazing.  Every single person.

    If you click here, you can see some photos from the production.  Look at them all - there are maybe a dozen.  So good.  Even if someone else were playin gthe role of Macbeth, it would still be amazing.  (Just not quite as amazing.  At one point we saw Ethan's nipples.  Sigh.)

    After the performance - of course - there was a bit of a meet and greet that had been set up.  (Don't judge me.)  So Brian and I headed backstage, to dressing room 11, which was Ethan's.  WE WERE BACKSTAGE!!!!!  Wandering by the dressing rooms!  SO COOL.  And I got Ethan to autograph the spoon.  Here it is: 

    I shall never cook with it.  Not that I was going to.

    Anyway - it was a rush.  And Ethan remembered me!  Bless.

    Then, back to the hotel, where we slept soundly.  Sunday, we got up and lounged around until it was time to leave.  We went to Park Avenue Autumn for brunch.  Apparently they change the decor and menu with every season!  How cool is that?  And the food was delicious.  Fresh baked little breads and muffins, then I had the butternut squash soup, followed by the breakfast risotto.  It was all really good.

    And then, as with all good things, it came to an end.  We headed our separate ways and headed back home.

    Macbeth is playing through January 12th.  If you can go see it, you really should.  It was that good.  Go ahead - click here to buy tickets.  You know you want to.  Meeting with Ethan Hawke sold separately.


    So Good

    Some things are just so exciting.  Even as the experience is just beginning, I start to get tingly all over, knowing what is ahead.

    It starts with the visual.  Seeing it.  The instantly recognizable shape...wider, thicker at the bottom; you almost want to cup it in your hand.  Then narrower above that, the top a pleasant round shape with the little hole in the middle.

    I bring it to my mouth, and before I even touch it, the distinctive smell tickles my nostrils.  I close my eyes, soaking it in.  Then, slowly, my mouth makes contact.  The smoothness, the firmness, it is so good, so right.

    I bring my mouth down and slowly, gently, bring my teeth in.  Instantly, there's a satisfying squirt into my mouth, and the juices taste so good.  There is no way I can stop now.  I continue, going on and on, top to bottom, all over, until there is no more.

    I moan with the pleasure of it.

    I wipe my mouth and chin, removing the sticky juices that inevitably dribble out.  And right away I want more.

    Why is it, I wonder, that I don't do this every day?  And how are there possibly people in the world that don't like this?

    Pears.  They are so delicious.  So good.