Dreams, A Painting

“I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake. In dreams I have achieved everything.”
– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
Dream, Jennifer Allison

Two Women, A Painting

“There were always in me, two women at least, one woman desperate and bewildered, who felt she was drowning and another who would leap into a scene, as upon a stage, conceal her true emotions because they were weaknesses, helplessness, despair, and present to the world only a smile, an eagerness, curiosity, enthusiasm, interest.”
― Anaïs Nin

I’ve spent the last several days working on a series of paintings using new mediums, techniques and colors. It’s been unseasonably warm and sunny the last week or so here in the Northwest. Not wanting to forgo painting, I’ve spent a great deal of time in front of the open window, trying to get the best of both worlds – the outdoors and indoors…
Jennifer Allison

Tim’s Vermeer, A Movie

“The progressive development of man is vitally dependent on invention.”
― Nikola Tesla

I’ve just come back from one of the most fascinating movies I’ve seen in awhile. I don’t ever give movie reviews here because this isn’t a movie review blog, but here goes.  I’m not a fan of huge cinema complexes so I rarely visit them. However, there’s an art-house type theater near me, housed in a 1920’s building that shows obscure and otherwise un-mainstream movies. Right up my alley…

The past few weeks they’ve been showing,  “Tim’s Vermeer” – A documentary about a famous painter, an inventor, a theory, and a five year project to prove his theory.

As an artist (who also happens to be in awe of the great Dutch painter Vermeer) I didn’t want Tim’s theory to become reality. There was a little bit of me that at first, wanted him and his invention to fail. I liked to believe that prodigies like Vermeer have existed in this world – That an artist can be so talented and such a genius, with paintings and subjects so realistic, they appear as if they can walk off of a canvas and converse with you.

And then Tim the inventor did it: He painted a replica so superbly comparative to Vermeer’s The Music Lesson that I found myself quietly gasping during the last forty minutes of so of the movie.

In the end, I didn’t feel like a jilted art lover though. In fact, unlike many art historians who’ve had issue with the movie and worry that Tim was out to make Vermeer a “fraud,” I now have even more respect for Vermeer, the progressive, the painter.  Thanks to Tim,  he remains a prodigy of progressive painting and techniques.

I wont give away his theory, but I’ll encourage you to view it for yourself.  It’s well worth the few hours.

Vermeer, The Music Lesson

Vermeer, The Music Lesson

Adam and Eve, A Poem by Tony Hoagland

One of my favorite Tony Hoagland Poems – Although I’ve felt his poems are typically male-centered, his ability to question the hardness of man and his desire to be soft like a woman, as read in the line “Can the fossil be surgically removed or dissolved, or redesigned so the man can be a human being, like a woman?” is quite beautiful.

Adam and Eve

I wanted to punch her right in the mouth and that’s the truth.

After all, we had gotten from the station of the flickering glances
to the station of the hungry mouths,
from the shoreline of skirts and faded jeans
to the ocean of unencumbered skin,
from the perilous mountaintop of the apartment steps
to the sanctified valley of the bed–

the candle fluttering upon the dresser top, its little yellow blade
sending up its whiff of waxy smoke,
and I could smell her readiness
like a dank cloud above a field,

when at the crucial moment, the all-important moment,
the moment standing at attention,
she held her milk white hand agitatedly
over the entrance to her body and said No,
and my brain burst into flame.

If I couldn’t sink myself in her like a dark spur
or dissolve into her like a clod thrown in a river,
can I go all the way in the saying, and say
I wanted to punch her right in the face?
Am I allowed to say that,
that I wanted to punch her right in her soft face?

Or is the saying just another instance of rapaciousness,
just another way of doing what I wanted then,
by saying it?

Is a man just an animal, and is a woman not an animal?
Is the name of the animal power?
Is it true that the man wishes to see the woman
hurt with her own pleasure

and the woman wishes to see the expression on the man’s face
of someone falling from great height,
that the woman thrills with the power of her weakness
and the man is astonished by the weakness of his power?

Is the sexual chase a hunt where the animal inside
drags the human down
into a jungle made of vowels,
hormonal undergrowth of sweat and hair,

or is this an obsolete idea
lodged like a fossil
in the brain of the ape
who lives inside the man?

Can the fossil be surgically removed
or dissolved, or redesigned
so the man can be a human being, like a woman?

Does the woman see the man as a house
where she might live in safety,
and does the man see the woman as a door
through which he might escape
the hated prison of himself,

and when the door is locked,
does he hate the door instead?
Does he learn to hate all doors?

I’ve seen rain turn into snow then back to rain,
and I’ve seen making love turn into fucking
then back to making love,
and no one covered up their faces out of shame,
no one rose and walked into the lonely maw of night.

But where was there, in fact, to go?
Are some things better left unsaid?
Shall I tell you her name?
Can I say it again,
that I wanted to punch her right in the face?

Until we say the truth, there can be no tenderness.
As long as there is desire, we will not be safe.

-Tony Hoagland

Real, A Photograph of Italy

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
– Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Time, Jennifer Allison

Bouncing Breasts and Colored Polish

“Why you no choose a color? How about red?” she barked at me while holding my nude color nail polish in one hand and a deep red in the other. The massage chair vibrated under my legs while my feet soaked in hot water. I’ve never quite thought the chairs were particularly comfortable as far as massaging goes. It feels more like a cheap coin-up vibrating hotel bed with added metal nubs rotating on your spine. I turned it off.

“She like natural.” said her co-worker; a little Vietnamese woman sitting beside us, working on someone else’s pedicure. I don’t know her name, but she’s usually the one I see. She never questioned my choice of “color” or pressured me to paint my nails red, pink or “french.” I liked her better than Miss Pushy they stuck me with.

I put my headphones in to drown out the noise of the busy nail parlor. Between Miss Pushy yapping away at her co-workers and the three television screens all showing talk shows, I needed a respite…and to quite possibly find a new nail “spa.”

I glanced at the woman next to me who was having french tips painted on her toes and fingers. She was very pretty though extremely made up. Her hair was freshly highlighted blonde, her slim legs were nice and tanned.  She had a three carat diamond on her hand and sat her Prada handbag on her lap.  I caught the last bit of her phone conversation to a friend about a vacation home she was purchasing in Arizona.  I’ve wondered if the material maintenance kind isn’t easier on men then the cerebral maintenance kind like me.

Cake played in my ears…

“she doesn’t care
whether or not he’s an island.
she doesn’t care,
just as long as his ship’s coming in.
she doesn’t care
whether or not he’s an island.
if they laugh, they make money.
he’s got a gold watch.
she’s got a silk dress
and healthy breasts
that bounce on his italian leather sofa.

she doesn’t care
whether or not he’s a good man.
she doesn’t care,
just as long as she still has her friends.
she doesn’t care
whether or not he’s an island.
if they laugh, they make money.
he’s got a gold watch.
she’s got a silk dress
and healthy breasts
that bounce on his italian leather sofa.”

Between the woman sitting next to me (with perky breasts mind you), Cake’s “Italian Leather Sofa” song, and the talk shows (one reviewing anti aging creams) I was reminded of a fellow co-worker I had a few years back.

It wasn’t the first time I met Donna. I had worked with her once before but hadn’t seen her in quite a while. The company was so large that often you’d go months or even years without running into someone. I have a not-so-good memory, but some moments just stick with you – like this one.

As I walked up to reintroduce myself to Donna I noticed that she looked different – much more “made up” than the last time we’d met. We both had skirts and heels on, but while my skirt was conservative, yet fitting, and my heels were high, but still manageable, her skirt was quite short (risky for business attire) and her heels were more like stilettos. Her nails were painted deep red and although her makeup wasn’t over the top, it wasn’t quite natural either.

With the heels she must’ve been at least six feet tall and when she walked away, men all around turned their heads to watch her. Hell, I even had to stare. She was a bombshell with a great figure and walk. And she knew it.

We walked to Starbucks for a coffee  – she stopped to fix her shoe twice and the third time,  knowing she didn’t really need to “fix” them (but was in pain and needed to rest) I waved her apology away and told her that I didn’t blame her for needing a break, that I couldn’t walk far in those shoes at all and was honestly impressed by her.

“Well, I’m single now, so the shoes are staying. I need to find a man” was all she said.

My mouth gaped open and I’m sure I looked like a deer in the headlights for a moment. What shocked me about her statement wasn’t the content, it was the matter of fact way she said it. No fluff, no pretense and certainly no mixing of words. She was a woman on a mission: to find a man. I suddenly wanted to follow her around and take notes for like, a decade or so. It wasn’t as if I wanted to be her understudy – I’m much to nerdy. It was just that even though I’m feminine, Donna was, like the woman beside me and the woman in Cake’s song, my opposite – and I wanted to know more of my opposite.  I was intrigued.

That day I learned that Donna and her boyfriend, whom she was sure would marry her, had broken up recently and she didn’t like the idea of being alone. She dated professional football players, older men, younger men and so on, all in a search for stability and comfort. She was nice and I liked her many man stories. We only worked together for a day and then we both disappeared into the nameless faces of our cooperation. I heard recently that she had left the company and married an investment banker or something of the sort and is expecting a baby.

Was it the skirt, the stilettos, the healthy breasts, the determination to “find a man” or was it her color choice in nail polish?

Charcoal #14

Art is not alone in imparting charm and mystery to the most insignificant things; pain is endowed with the same power to bring them into intimate relation with ourselves.”
– Marcel Proust

I’ve spent so much time painting this last year that I’ve neglected to practice what I love best – the quick charcoal sketches.   I give myself only five minutes.  Out of all of the pieces I create, I always look most fondly at the quick charcoals.  I believe it’s due to my disdain for and general lack of detail.  Throughout the years, I’ve had to learn how to add detail to most anything I do.  The beauty of these quick charcoal sketches is that no detail is needed – there’s no time for it.  Essentially the quick sketch is “the big picture.”
sketch #14

Pink, The New Normal

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
― Albert Camus

I drive my son to school on the days he is with me. Each day on my way home from dropping him off I pass a man running.

He’s always looked the same; an older gentleman with a short gait, hard lips and furrowed brow. Honestly, I’ve always thought him to look miserable and blamed it on all that running he was doing. “How fun could that be? No wonder,” I’d think as I passed him.

But that wasn’t why he looked so unhappy.

Last week, on my way home, I passed him again – only this time his gait was longer; as if he was running on a cloud, his brow was soft and his lips almost seemed to have a relaxed smile planted on them.

What was different about this man? Well, instead of his drab black and grey running clothes I was used to seeing him in, he wore a pink jacket, pink and white running shoes, a bit of make-up and a little pink and white running skirt. Yeap, he finally, as Albert Camus might agree, stop putting so much energy on being normal – being accepted.

At first I wondered if it were a joke. Maybe it was a dare or he had lost a bet.

Although after a few weeks of seeing his light-footed, bathed in pink, relaxed-self run without the mask he wore so heavily, it’s safe to say that he has finally stopped the “normalcy” he thought he needed to exude.

I want to stop and congratulate him but think it might be unwanted attention so instead, I smile big, I cheer him on each day I pass him and I know that should he ever stop running, my mornings will be a little less bright – less pink.

Subsequently, since my arrival home a few weeks ago from Spain I’ve run every day but a few. I’m not a “runner” but for some odd reason have felt the need to run – hard. Each day I run until I feel as though my heart will explode and my legs will give out. Then I stop and go home. I don’t know how long my need will last or how my yoga practice will suffer. However when the feeling wains, maybe I’ll just wear more pink…

 

Autumn, A Painting

self portrait

Autumn is my favorite time of the year.  Originally this painting was to be my representation of the Red-Light district in Frankfurt, Germany.   Although for some odd reason it morphed into a painting of fall, or autumn, with all of the reds, yellows and browns – which I happened to finish on the first day of Spring.  Odd..

I’ve had multiple conversations lately both here on One Street Shy and in private about Rainer Maria Rilke, who happens to be one of my favorite authors of all time.  Sometimes feelings are lost in translation so I have posted Rilkes thoughts on Autumn in both his mother-tongue and in English.  Seems fitting.

“Zu keinem anderen Zeitpunkt (als Herbst) bewegt sich die Erde lassen sich eingeatmet werden in einem Geruch, der Reife Erde; in der Geruch ist in keiner Weise eine Verschlechterung an den Geruch des Meeres, bitter wo grenzt es an Geschmack und vieles mehr süss wie Honig, wo sie das Gefühl haben, dass sie den ersten Tönen. Mit Tiefe in sich, Dunkelheit, etwas von der schweren fast.”

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”  – Rainer Maria Rilke

Grief, A Matthew Dickman Poem

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Dickman for the last few years – ever since I was given his “Love” poem.  Having lost someone to death and others to life, I can relate to “Grief.”   Although I don’t find the poem sad – but maybe I should.  Instead I look at Dickman’s words as a humble welcome to feelings, like Rumi’s “The Guest House.”

Grief

When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla
you must count yourself lucky.
You must offer her what’s left
of your dinner, the book you were trying to finish
you must put aside,
and make her a place to sit at the foot of your bed,
her eyes moving from the clock
to the television and back again.
I am not afraid. She has been here before
and now I can recognize her gait
as she approaches the house.
Some nights, when I know she’s coming,
I unlock the door, lie down on my back,
and count her steps
from the street to the porch.
Tonight she brings a pencil and a ream of paper,
tells me to write down
everyone I have ever known,
and we separate them between the living and the dead
so she can pick each name at random.
I play her favorite Willie Nelson album
because she misses Texas
but I don’t ask why.
She hums a little,
the way my brother does when he gardens.
We sit for an hour
while she tells me how unreasonable I’ve been,
crying in the checkout line,
refusing to eat, refusing to shower,
all the smoking and all the drinking.
Eventually she puts one of her heavy
purple arms around me, leans
her head against mine,
and all of a sudden things are feeling romantic.
So I tell her,
things are feeling romantic.
She pulls another name, this time
from the dead,
and turns to me in that way that parents do
so you feel embarrassed or ashamed of something.
Romantic? she says,
reading the name out loud, slowly,
so I am aware of each syllable, each vowel
wrapping around the bones like new muscle,
the sound of that person’s body
and how reckless it is,
how careless that his name is in one pile and not the other.

Mirror, A Photograph

“We discover that we do not know our role; we look for a mirror; we want to remove our make-up and take off what is false and real. But somewhere a piece of disguise that we forgot still sticks to us. A trace of exaggeration remains in our eyebrows; we do not notice that the corners of our mouth are bent. And so we walk around, a mockery and a mere half: neither having achieved being nor actors.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Church

Upon the Shore, A Photograph with Yeats

That crazed girl improvising her music.
Her poetry, dancing upon the shore,

Her soul in division from itself
Climbing, falling
She knew not where,

Hiding amid the cargo of a steamship,
Her knee-cap broken, that girl I declare
A beautiful lofty thing, or a thing
Heroically lost, heroically found.

No matter what disaster occurred
She stood in desperate music wound,
Wound, wound, and she made in her triumph
Where the bales and the baskets lay
No common intelligible sound
But sang, ‘O sea-starved, hungry sea

― W.B. Yeats

The Shore Girl

Lost in Translation: From Seattle to Europe and Back Again…and Again…and Again

Travel


Charlotte: I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.

Bob: You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.

A few days ago I watched the movie Lost in Translation again.  Only this time I understood it so much more-so than ten years ago.

I travel back and forth to Europe often. Sometimes for a week and other times for six weeks.  Not for business and not for family.  I go for inspiration and experiences. Eventually I’ll just plant myself there and not leave.  Seattle will become a place I come only to visit.

Each city around the world has an independent culture of it’s own.

What do I do?  I make friends.  I get to know the local businesses.  Sometimes I’m alone and other times visiting friends and loved ones.  I become comfortable with the languages and my ignorance to the languages; accustom to misunderstanding or not understanding entirely.   It’s almost as if I am partially blind and deaf; unable to read, write or hear everything around me.  I relish this feeling.  Maybe its the INFP (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Perceiving) in me.  You see, introverts, I believe, travel well when alone.

Interestingly enough, it’s when I come home to the states, to Seattle, that I feel the most lost in translation.  After weeks of being only able to understand a portion of what is on the radio, the television, written all around me and spoken to me, I suddenly understand everything – the good the bad and anything in between, and I’m not so sure I like it.  Being blissfully unaware suites me just fine.

It’s these moments I feel the most like Charlotte – “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.”

Where’s Bob when I need him anyway…

Will You Be Mine? My Global Search For Butterscotch Candy

“This is my country, that is your country; these are the conceptions of narrow souls – to the liberal minded the whole world is a family.”
― Virchand Gandhi

I grew up without grandparents.  Well, not exactly – I had one grandmother.  Unfortunately she didn’t like the idea of being a mother, let alone a grandmother.  Therefore she was unavailable.

I never much thought about it before; the whole no grandparent thing, until about eight years ago.  I met a woman named Doreen.  She was in her late seventies, British, strikingly beautiful and full of fire.  We sat on a non-profit board together and I got to know her well.  Sometimes she would be gone for a month or two – taking her grandchild to far off places like Africa and Thailand.

I once got a butterscotch life-savor from Katherine, my “grandmother” when she was staying with us a few weeks (until she got enough money for another apartment.)  My mother always helped her.  Us kids gave her her space.  She needed a lot of space.

Don’t get me wrong, I grew up happy with the butterscotch life-savor.  I had a very loving family life.  I didn’t need Africa or Asia.  Although after meeting and spending time with Doreen I concluded that I should like to have Doreen as MY grandmother.  She was so cool, so interesting, so devoted to her grandson who happened to live thousands of miles away.  I felt gipped all of a sudden.  It wasn’t fair.

And so began my search.

From that moment on, every place I visit I’m secretly looking for my grandparent.  When I meet them, I daydream about what it would be like to have grown up with them.  To have eaten their butterscotch candies.  To have been told all of the family stories and secrets while we ate homemade soup.

I’ve compiled a short list of perspective candidates from my last trip to Spain:

The sweet Lebanese man from Vancouver, BC sitting beside me on the flight to Seattle yesterday:  He wore a light grey suit.  Not enough men wear suits anymore.  His white hair was thick and combed neatly with a side part.  His face was calm; serene.  He didn’t watch movies or do anything but rest his eyes softly beside me.  He had a special diabetic meal so they served his meal first.  I hadn’t eaten much in days and when I looked to see what food he had been given he tried to hand me his utensils and asked if I would like to share.  I almost started crying.  The nice old Lebanese man who’d never met me was offering to share his food.  I declined and he asked “sure?” and then waited until my meal was served before he would begin to eat.  I worried about his diabetes.

He and I would meet on Saturday’s at the local Lebanese restaurant for lunch.  I would take his arm afterward and we would go for a nice walk – my Jidi and me.

The old woman with dyed brown hair and burgundy lipstick who helped me when I was lost in Eivissa:  She was a small woman, with a stern face.  She spoke no English.  I showed her my map and pointed to the hotel that I was staying at.  She pointed her crocked finger in the direction and then gently touched my arm and began her march with me.  She had been going the opposite way before I asked her.  Once in a while she would say something and then point.  I felt protected by her.  She stopped suddenly at an apartment building and another woman came out.  She was heavy, with a sweet face, a hunch in her back and a bad limp.  The old woman looked at me, said something sternly to her friend which made her look softly to me and smile and we were on our way – all three of us.  She left me only when I was safely in front of my hotel.  Her face soften again before she turned to march away.

She and I would cook together.  Me following her directions and her sternly telling me not to cook the potatoes so long.  Although a hard woman, I would see that my Abuela loved and protected me.

Mary Lou – The old woman who lived down the road from the finca I stayed at:  After being introduced to Mary Lou I was immediately in awe.  She was in her eighties, loved her garden, originally from France but had been living in Spain for thirty years.  She also spoke no English but invited us in her house to see the photo of her husband that hung over her bed.  He had died almost thirty years ago and she was still very much in love with him.  She never remarried.  Her eyes were as blue and bright as the sky.  I was captivated by her beauty and her sweet energy.  She would touch our arms to follow her to her windows, to her photos.  She was so obviously proud of all of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I longed to be in her photos too.

Mémé and I would sit for hours while having tea.  She would tell me stories of growing up in France, of meeting my grandfather, the man of her dreams.  I would take her to the nursery to buy more flowers and she would insist I stay longer.

Today I’ve been invited by a dear friend to visit her in Sicily.  I wonder how my Sicilian grandparents will be….

Blue, A Photo of Ibiza

“This unlikely story begins on a sea that was a blue dream, as colorful as blue-silk stockings, and beneath a sky as blue as the irises of children’s eyes. From the western half of the sky the sun was shining little golden disks at the sea–if you gazed intently enough you could see them skip from wave tip to wave tip until they joined a broad collar of golden coin that was collecting half a mile out and would eventually be a dazzling sunset.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some would think of the island of Ibiza’s color as White – like all of the white houses dotting the landscape.  I, however, think of the island color as blue.  Periwinkle blue to be exact.  If you take a closer look, and not just at the sea, you’ll see blue everywhere.

Blue

The Giant Woman of Ibiza

“The cost of oblivious daydreaming was always this moment of return, the realignment with what had been before and now seemed a little worse. ” 
- Ian McEwan

Yesterday I was a giant.

I thought maybe at first I’d be an amazon woman.   An amazon would make more sense for someone like me.  I am short and small but dream of being tall.  When I feel insecure next to tall woman I secretly call them amazons under my breath.  Only because I want to be like them.  Sometimes I am mean and childish.

However, yesterday an amazon was much too short.  Jennifer the giant sounded better on the tongue.

Early in the morning I sat on a rock at the edge of the beach and considered taking a walk into the sea.  My toes dangled near the water and I briefly wondered if the bottoms of my feet would be cut by the small jagged rocks hiding below.

Maybe I could walk to Majorca.

The Mediterranean changes all the time.  The colors move from dark blue to white to green so quickly that I sometimes close my eyes for two whole minutes just so I can open them to a new painting.  It’s like being in an abstract art museum and not having to move at all.  If you sit long enough, the paintings all come to you.

Certainly there must be invisible artists painting the sea.

Yesterday, unlike the last few weeks, the water was calm like glass.  I thought that maybe the invisible artists were taking a siesta or maybe out buying more sea brushes.

If I walked far enough I could meet the artists who painted such beautiful designs.  We would all sit and drink wine and eat pickles and they could tell me their secrets to painting the sea.  They would ask me to be their apprentice.

We would discuss very important things, the artists and I.

Maybe I would walk to Barcelona, I thought.  It would have only taken twenty minutes or so.  But the water might have gotten deep and I would be forced to swim.  Swimming in the deep water scares me.  I always wonder what’s underneath me.  Are there piranhas in the sea?  Would a million of them have eaten me in a big bloody mess?  I would have to fight them with my giant hands.  Would my blood then paint the sea too?  Would the invisible artists be happy to have a new red color to mix with the blues and greens?

I didn’t want to swim.  I wanted only to walk.  But the water would be cold on my skin and if I got to Majorca without being eaten by piranhas I would have giant wet clothes and have to find a shop with giant dry clothes.  Exhausting…

Instead of taking a walk to Barcelona, fighting piranhas or introducing myself to the invisible artists I simply sat on my rock in safety.

Yesterday I was a giant.

Today I’ve been asked by a famous travel magazine to travel to Rajasthan and write about the food, lodging and culture.  What a busy day…this daydreaming takes up so much of my time

Wendy Hands

“Ignorant men don’t know what good they hold in their hands until they’ve flung it away.”
-Sophocles

Some time ago  I was at a restaurant with a few friends and while the conversation was moving from one subject to the next I found myself thinking about hands of all things.  One of the couples I was with had a little girl around two years old who used her hands when she spoke.  She really was beautiful;  with a sweet disposition, perfect olive skin, brown hair and pretty brown eyes – and the cutest little hands in the entire busy restaurant.  When the waitress came to take our orders the little girl was entranced by her hands.  The waitress, Wendy, had long fake fingernails all painted different bright colors and a tattoo of some sort on her left hand.  I watched the little girl watch Wendy’s hands.

Wendy’s hands were quite feminine and her fingers (minus the long nails) seemed to be as long as her forearms.  My own hands are rather earthy and not particularly feminine.  I keep my nails on the short side and wear only nude nail polish.  I frequently have charcoal or ink staining my fingers and my tendons seem as though they want to sit on top of my skin, rather than underneath.  While they are certainly not my most feminine quality they relay the information my eyes – the mirror of the soul – needs relating.

I’ve long had a fascination with hands.  Everyone has been asked the question in their life of, “What is the first thing you notice on a person?”  I’ve always noticed hands first; then eyes and so on.  Maybe it is because I am an artist and my own hands are so important to me.  If the eyes show a person’s soul, their hands relate the information their soul holds.  Hands hold the key to expression of sorts and can transfer information in a way that the voice can’t.  They can create and destroy most anything (even things you cannot see, like feelings.)  And likewise they hold compassion, love, hate, anger and even memories inside of them.

I remember going to visit a convalescent home with my daughter many years ago when she was a little girl (she’s now a woman.)  Her dance school was performing a Christmas show for the senior citizens.  Afterward, the little girls would go around and give out special Christmas treats to the residents watching the show.  Every senior citizen would reach out and touch the hands of the girls when receiving their gifts.  The girls, unbeknownst to them, were showering the residents of the home with love and compassion just by taking their hands – by touching them.  I stood by and watched as my daughter and the other girls brought touch to some twenty or so lives that day.  Some of which may not have been touched again for weeks on end.

As a yoga teacher, practicing and teaching Ashtanga yoga, I have literally touched hundred and hundreds of bodies and have gotten different responses to each and every one of them.  Some would soften at touch, while others stiffened, clearly uncomfortable being touched at all.  I became somewhat of an expert in reading muscles and reactions to touch.  I came to the conclusion that although some people don’t like to be touched, there is a certain amount of comfort in just knowing that you have been touched compassionately; that someone has transferred their information to you via their hands and without words….if that makes any sense at all.

I wonder – if all of us lost the ability to speak, to relay words of love with our voices, would we touch more?  Would you be touched more often?

“Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”
- Helen Keller

It’s a powerful thing we have in our hands

Trapped, A Photograph of The Red Light

“What freedom men and women could have, were they not constantly tricked and trapped and enslaved and tortured by their sexuality! The only drawback in that freedom is that without it one would not be a human. One would be a monster.”
― John Steinbeck, East of Eden
Red Light Frankfurt