Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"Each picture told a story" ~ Jane Eyre

At the young age of eight, my father took me to the MET for the first time. Since then, he and I have made plenty of trips together, but that first visit is the most important. The visit invoked a passion for art, and even the inspiration to paint. I don't remember much about that first visit, except for the Van Goghs.

I remember the security guard in the Van Gogh gallery moving towards me as my father lunged towards my finger that went to touch Irises 1890. They were both smiling, but I was not happy. I wanted to touch and feel the thickness of the paint on the canvas even at that time. I still do now, but as an adult I have perfected the role of art museum decorum.

My high school started in eighth grade, so as an eighth grader I took an art class with all upperclassman. Our teacher took us to the MET to see the Magritte exhibit. Though we viewed the paintings together, we were allowed to walk around the museum by ourselves for the rest of the afternoon. I could not believe the freedom that was given to me. Since I was the little eighth grader who no one talked to, I set out on my own.

I roamed the MET in solitude, and to this day it was one of the best experiences of "alone time" I have ever had. It was my adventure. I took no map, and I walked into gallery after gallery after gallery. The Medieval Art gallery struck me the most; to this day I see the large gate in the hall and think about that day. At that time, I knew I was discovering treasure. I go back to discover treasure there all of the time. I was there just last month. Other favorite exhibits have been Vermeer and the Delft School (with Homig) and the French Daguerreotypes (with Dad).

MOMA is also a great place, but it is not as special to me as the MET. The MET is warm, filled with classical art that has fueled art lovers for centuries. MOMA is cooler, and although I like some cool modern funky art, I don't feel as home there as I do at the MET.

Sometimes I think about what I would do if given the chance to own my own art museum. I would make it somewhat petite, maybe four or five galleries with my favorite works. I would want various cafes and wine bars and coffee bars laced throughout; I don't like the fact that there is no where to really sit and talk about the art when you are at a museum. The benches are so uninviting. An art lover needs to sit comfortably and revel in the work.

Here are some of my favorite paintings and sculptures; ones I would display at the Amy's Cosmopolitan Museum of Art...

* Kandinsky's Small Pleasures - I love this painting for its warm colors. I can almost see a cellist in the midst of the abstract forms.

* Cassatt's Mother and Child - The roundness of this baby is adorable and it reminds me of Jack's chubby roundness. Art imitates life; I see Missy in this painting.

* Mondrian's Boogie Woogie Broadway - The colors and energy remind me of B'way. I recall as a high school thespian roaming down Broadway constantly because we got student discount tickets for shows like Miss Saigon.

* Picasso's 3 Musicians - This reminds me of spending some great nights at the Village Vanguard, including prom night when Sarah and I had the best non-prom night ever!

* One of Degas' bathers - The best shower is always one right after a day at the beach. I don't know what it is about the bathing experience, but it feels so good to have the sand wash away and feel refreshed.

* Michaelangelo's David - I think that only women can truly appreciate M's beautiful work here. I love each crevice of the sculpture, and one day I hope to see it in person.

* The Kiss by Klimt - This one always reminds me of Ben. I think I even gave him a card in college with this print on the cover. He used to kiss me on my cheek in addition to my lips; something boyfriend has done ever since. It was such sweetness.

* La Belle dans sans Merci by Waterhouse - This is just as beautiful as the poem by John Donne. I teach the poem to my students before going into Malory's Arthurian Legends.

* Rodin's Eternal Love - This sculpture could make me blush, but it doesnt. Its very riske, and that is why I find it mezmerizing.

* Vermeer's Girl Asleep at a Table - If you take a close look at the table, you will see a small wine glass: no wonder she must be sleepy!

* Hopper's Nighthawks - This one is in my kitchen. I love Hopper, and I live this painting constantly!

* Manet's Bar - I love the righthand corner where you see the man ordering a drink. I wonder what cocktail he is ordering or what kind of wine.

* Vincent's Cafe... - This reminds me of Hemingway's novel, The Sun Also Rises.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"And you felt self-satisfied with the result of your ardent labours?" ~ Jane Eyre

I am sipping a latte, after sipping a cup of coffee, after sipping a demi-tasse of soorj. My eyelids are heavy despite all of this sipping, and these hands need a break from typing words associated with the Black Mountain poet Charles Olson and his influence on performance poetry.

I spent the hours of the late morning in Axinn Library at Hofstra. Each time I go there, I always leave feeling pangs of jealousy towards peers that are full time grad students and my colleagues who have finished their Masters. While roaming in the stacks on the sixth floor, I tell myself that I will be a better grad student: I will spend more of my free time in the library, I will do more research, and I will not procrastinate.

Then, I get out of the stacks and tell myself: you have no free time unless you count the time you drive to and from work; how much more research can you possibly do on Melville's use of the word "savage" in Typee without wanting to hunt down your professor with a spear for assigning the question to begin with?; how does one procrastinate when one has no time to procrastinate with?

I know these feelings of jealousy are irrational. After all, I am grateful to have an established career after six years of being an English teacher, and I believe many of my colleagues who have a Masters in Education should have gotten it in their concentration instead. I love being independent, and I love knowing my degree will be in Literature.

Still, moments like this get frustrating. It often becomes a Catch 22, which makes me sad because I wish I could enjoy the coursework more instead of being overwhelmed by deadlines and juggling priorities along with it.

Is there glory in being a master of literature? Am I satisfied with the result of my labors?

Ask me in May, the month I shall hopefully graduate in.

In the meantime, I need to get back to Charlie O. and get some expresso and then keep up this grad student lamenting by saying, "Ooooooh."

Friday, November 25, 2005

"It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent thundering through space." ~ Jane Eyre

Since today is a day off, I thought I would dedicate a post to guilty pleasures.

We all have our own guilty pleasures; some are commonplace, and others are unique to each individual. I am a big advocate of indulging in guilty pleasures as often as possible because they are the best parts of life. Guilty pleasures are what makes life rich and divine. These are amongst my favorites...

1. The Spa: Every so often I go to the Nordstrom Spa for an aromatherapy massage. The best moment of the experience is right before the actual massage: Claudia sits you down with a neck wrap that smells of oatmeal and a basin filled with soap to place your feet in. I close my eyes, sip some tea, and think about nothing. Today I am going to get a massage at my local salon, Expressions, because English Teachers can't afford Nordstrom's all of the time. Lisa is as great as Claudia, and she lets me choose my own music! I can't wait for my Chocolate Spa trip with Sarah in January. Oooooo. Ahhhhhhh. Yummmm.

2. Jessica McClintock: Once in a while, I need to remind myself of my roots. If I am shopping at the mall and am feeling that "independent woman" frazzle, I sometimes need a moment to let go of the Ann Taylor-suit-wearing-English Teacher me. I go into the Jessica McClintock store, take three of the most gorgeous gowns, head into the fitting rooms, and try each dress on. I stare into my inner princess and relish the 15 minutes of feeling like an adult Disney Princess. The women in there know me; they are Armenian. So, they allow me to come in and take pleasure in the gowns whenever I wish.

3. The Romance Novel: I have no shame in admitting this. I know three monologues by Shakespeare, I have read The Odyssey half a dozen times, I know what the term enjambment means, and I only read Chaucer in Middle English. Sometimes a little Lit-girl needs a break. Julie Garwood is the guilty pleasure author of choice. Her books are tucked away in my library, but there are at least eight of them including my all time fave, Ransom.

4. Def Leppard: I listen to all kinds of music, but sometimes I need to put in one of the best cd's of all time into my cd player: Hysteria. Known for the infamous Pour Some Sugar on Me, I appreciate the album for its lesser-known works like Rocket and Women. Rock it baby, yeah!

5. Spinach and Artichoke Dip at Houstons: I don't do this often, but when I do it is delectable. I have a low-fat version from Trader Joe's that satiates my craving, but it is no where near the same as Houston's masterpiece that ooozes with cheese. The salty tortillas that come with it are also delish. I haven't had Houston's in a while, so call me up if you want to go enjoy some!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

"The impulse of gratitude swelled my heart." ~ Jane Eyre

Thanksgiving 2005: Photos

"We feasted that evening as if on nectar and ambrosia..." ~ Jane Eyre

This Thanksgiving was perfect. Here are a few of my favorite moments...

1. Baby Jack greeting me in his plaid Polo shirt and pants with scottish terriers on them. It was great to wish him his first Happy Thanksgiving!
2. Seeing John come through the door and sitting next to him at the dinner table. My family now adores him, he now adores my family, and I adore him so very much. I am grateful for our friendship.
3. Having a quiet moment at the end of the evening with my two sisters. We are a powerhouse, and I love us as a unit. They are both amazing women.
4. Serving the food I prepared to everyone I love. I was pleased with how all of the dishes came out.
5. Singing "Bushel and a Peck" with Grandma to Jack.
6. Seeing Sarah when she stopped by to meet Jack for a bit. She even bought Jack a toy: A jack in the box!
7. Watching my mother hold her grandson with such delight; she was thrilled that he got her a birthday present today - a nice facial at Nordstrom as a thank you for all the care she gives him.
8. Eating my sister's pumpkin pie. Mmmm.
9. Sipping a great cabernet that John brought as I finished cooking; as Moo said today, you cannot cook without consuming wine!
10. Knowing that we will all be back together in a month for Christmas!
11. Taking a quiet moment to remember my grandparents who are not with me. I miss them so deeply; that will never dissipate. I know they were there in spirit.
12. Making soorj for Armand, Anta, and Ed. I think that my foam on top has gotten perfect.

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving, too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"I now busied myself in preparations..." ~ Jane Eyre

Three markets later, I have just completed my Thanksgiving food shopping.

I smiled at many intervals; I found spots on the shelves of the markets that were practically empty. Despite struggling to find the last of what is in stock, there was a comfort knowing that others are making the same kinds of foods. A definite sense of togetherness. Bags of pecans were all but gone, apple cider was hard to come by, I got the last of the butternut squash, and I had to dig pretty deep for green beans.

This Thanksgiving is special for many reasons, but two especially.

A year ago I was dreaming of being an aunt, and although it is now a reality, it is still dream-like in quality. This is the first big holiday with Baby Jack, and I am so thankful for him that I hope we make a separate toast to him at dinner after prayers. He has two Thanksgiving bibs. The one I got says "My first Thanksgiving" and the other Missy got personalized with a cute turkey on it. Well, he certainly is the size of a turkey this year. Missy insists that we get a photo of him next to the turkey. Hands down, he is the better butterball.

Last year I remember IMing John and wishing him a Happy Thanksgiving. He didn't even realize that it was Thanksgiving. After going through last Thanksgiving and Christmas wishing he was home, he is home and I am so excited that I can make this holiday special for him. He is coming for Thanksgiving dinner, and I want to make it wonderful since the past two Thanksgivings he spent serving in Afghanistan were just awful. I want to toast him, too, but he would get angry with me and tout his usual "I was just doing my job" speech. His presence will be quite welcome.

The China is out. I am making placecards for everyone. Ed got wood for the fireplace. Robin will bring her Smores kit. I got a new soup tourine to serve from. We are trying a new recipe for mulled cider. Two birthdays will be celebrated. I have a plan to sneak away for a bit to catch the football games. Sarah is stopping by to meet Jack.

Everything is in place. Its a good feeling...

Monday, November 21, 2005

"What do I want? A new place in a new house, amongst new faces, under new circumstances...how do people get to a new place?" ~ Jane Eyre

Makeovers are an essential part of life.

I don't see makeovers as extreme as much as I see them as extremely important.

Lately I have been thinking about a nice makeover for myself. The makeover involves my body, my soul, and my surroundings. Its quite a lovely thought and I am rather excited about the endeavor. Some are little things. Some are trivial, and some are significant. Some are essential, but they are all special.

The first makeover involves dinner plates. I have had the same plates for five years: Sweet Shop by Sango. I feel that the dinnerware does not go with the French accents in the apartment. So, I am looking for a new dinner set this winter and looking forward to the plates holding some new recipes.

The next makeover involves my bank account. She has maintained a thin figure for six years, but she needs to get some roundness in her. Well, perhaps I should not use a euphemism. I want her fat, fat, fat. All this tutoring of late should add some extra pounds.

While the bank account grows thick, I would like to grow lean. I am happy with my weight right now, but I am not ecstatic. I think the body doenst need a makeover as much as it needs a makeback. I want my ballerina body back, and since I always get what I want, I know its mine for the taking.

I have been working on a makeover for the set of wheels. More cars were viewed this weekend thanks to the assistance of my brother-in-law. There are two very different looks I am contemplating right now: the beetle is one, the suv is another. Right now there are open talks with friends and family; I need opinions on this one.

Making over my office/library is also an important task. I want to find portraits of my favorite authors, frame them, and line the walls with the frames. I think this could be a cool project. Shakespeare and Hemingway are already done.

I would like to accessorize more. Missy and I were in Hermes yesterday and we looked at some nice scarves. I think that I need to experiment in scarves, funky belts, daring earrings, and bold necklaces. Now that I am curling my hair differently, hairclips are also on the list.

I want to makeover how the waves in my mind move during times of stress. I want to explore more than the simple yoga I do now. Maybe learn to meditate, and definitely learn to eradicate the tension in my back.

Things I will never make over: my optimism, my standards, my smile, my strength, my compassion, my passion, my wit, my stubbornness, my creativity, and my humility. Makeovers are for those who know they are far from perfect.

What do you need to make over?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"He fastened the car door..." ~ Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre walks everywhere. It is on a walk where she meets Rochester for the first time; he doesn't see her and is thrown from his horse. I love the metaphor there.

I drive everywhere in my red Saturn Coupe. So far, the car and I have not bumped into my Rochester. (sigh)

The car is adorable and has served me well for the past four years, but I think it is time for a change. Its sporty look and light weight is not my style anymore. It can't handle winters; I would like to drive steady on snow and be able to make trips to VT and PA to ski this winter without having to worry about the road conditions.

Tonight's experience at car dealerships was quite an education.

No, not for me. For the salesman!

I said very little when I entered Toyota this evening. All I said was that I wanted to see the Rav 4 (what a crappy car). My salesman, Josh, was some 24 year old who looked too young to be in the getup of a suit he was in. He was wearing a pink tie. Who wears a pink tie in November?

So Joshie and I took a test drive and it was the most boring convo I ever had in my life. My vocation came out, so of course he admitted he was a bad student. I could tell he thought he was a BMOC; one of those Long Island boys who hangs out at Mirage Friday nights looking for some blond hairdresser with an IQ of 90. I could not take more than five minutes in that car with him; it was a very quick test drive.

He then told me that he was spaced out in English classes because he was bored. Well, no kidding, Sherlock! That is why YOU are a CAR SALESMAN desperate to get me in a car this evening and I have an MA and will never have to work so late on a Thursday night driving random people around in a crappy car.

Well, we got back and Joshie had the audacity to ask me 400/mo. for that car. I literally laughed and then said to him that if he can't get me at 325 than I am leaving. So then the manager came out after some back and forth and I held my ground. They called me sweetie this and said honey that. They went to far as to say how adorable a petite girl like me would look in such a car and the best they could do was 365.

That was the straw that broke the camel's back. No, not the 365!


And I quote: "Listen, I am 28 years old and am ready to go look sophisticated in a better SUV for 300. You can sugarcoat this all you want, but I want to be very direct here. All of this back and forth is making me tired. I understand that is what you are giving me, which is not much, and I am telling you what I want. If you can't give me what I want, than I am leaving now because I refuse to play lets make a deal with MY MONEY!"

The girl got up, said thank you, shook their hands, and felt damn good walking out leaving a car salesman flat.

Just call me the postergirl for the tough customer. ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

"It was a wet and windy afternoon." ~ Jane Eyre

A few weeks ago when dining at Philoxenia(http://www.villagevoice.com/nyclife/0445,sietsema,58219,16.html), Cassie expressed to me and Sarah how much she loves rainy days. Sarah and I are sun worshippers, but I admit that rainy days in the fall are very special.

Rainy days in the fall mean swimming in chicken soup for lunch. You can lie out on the couch after applying a spicy body oil and close your eyes while listening to the crash of the rain on your roof. You can bury your toes underneath a down-feathered blanket and do some light reading: Everyday Food, any novel by Anita Shreve, the book revue from the Times you keep meaning to read from two weeks ago. Waxing up your votives and put candles in them to burn. Bottled water is a must; you need it to feel a tea kettle for some hot tea. Molasses cookies are a good snack to pack for a day of rain.

Enjoy the rain...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"I know it well; therefore I proceed almost as freely as if I were writing my thoughts in a diary." ~ Jane Eyre

Being a baby blogger myself, I spent some time perusing blogs today.

I was not impressed with one of the genres I found.

Perhaps I was clicking on the wrong links; many came from Stephanie's blog. I think hers is excellent and nothing compares to it, but the imitations are horrid. Her copycats seem to have the same theme: I am a single woman in a Big City and I am going to talk about clothes shopping, sex with strangers, boozing with the girls, and complain about men while calling it cathartic when in reality its a self-indulging therapy session with the world.

Get over yourselves, girls.

Here is my advice to you girls (aka "Miss Ingrams" if you have read Bronte's novel). I can't call you women, let alone ladies . Sorry.

1. If you act like a whore, chances are you are a whore. If you keep "kissing" and telling to the world, than chances are he isn't telling you he wants a commitment.

2. The a) messy breakups b) late night drunk dials after messy breakups c) sober dials after messy breakups are all ridiculous. Its broken for a reason, girls. You can either ruin your manicure trying to put it back together OR go get a nice manicure and remember that men are like Essie colors: you can change them each week if you are so inclined.

3. When faced with difficult situations in life, don't whine about it! Learn this mantra: when faced with life's challenges, put on your Jackie O. face and be a strong lady. Granted, don't take the crap she took from a man. However, take with you the fact that she was a better lady without JFK and was a true single cosmopolitan woman without ever needing a man (while raising two children, too!).

4. Quit complaining about your weight. If you really want to do something about it, you would be doing it. If you aren't, than please silence yourself with a Twinkie.

5. If you are identifying yourself via entries about your clothes shopping experiences at Anthropologie and Banana Republic, I recommend that you get a real personal shopper to buy you some self esteem and a little depth.

6. Petty conflicts with girlfriends are so high school. This is your Twenties, not Degrassi Junior High.

7. The commentators in this genre are no better than the bloggers since the commentators ARE bloggers in this genre! They write complete marshmallow fluff just to make sure their links are shown. I don't allow comments because, frankly, I really don't care what you think of my writing. Its not for you, its for me.

8. Dedicating pages and pages to a man who has ISSUES clearly indicates that YOU have issues, too. Honey, issues are what separates the men from the boys. If he has issues, than he hasn't made it out of the sandbox, so be grateful you have the opportunity to leave him digging in sand for something he will never find while you are off to find a man who doesn't play games and doesn't have bulls*** to shovel!!!

9. Please don't mention every alcoholic beverage you drink. Its not only so Bridget Jones wannabe, but it really makes you look like a lush. Oh, drink something else besides a cosmo once in a while?

10. Be a little kinder to your parents, girls. The child-rebel stage is getting very old.

There is my advice to many of you bloggers. Life is too short to wallow in self pity and talk of shallow things. There is too much negativity; be positive. If you don't know how, I suggest you pick up a copy of Jane Eyre and start reading.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"Fortunately, I had the advantage of being taught French by a French lady." ~ Jane Eyre

Say what you will about the French; I shall always be a Francophile.

Right now I am watching Jacque Pepin's "Fast Food My Way" on WLIW Create (this is my new favorite channel- www.thirteen.org/watchcreate ). His accent is delectable, and the way he says "coukeeng" is the inspiration for this post.

Reasons Why I Love The French Frogs

1. Gigi - This is the best musical ever. It was a favorite of my mother's, and it is a favorite of mine and Sarah's. How can you not love Maurice Chevalier when he sings Thank Heaven for Little Girls? (Ok well my dad doesn't: "Amy, the man was a nazi sympathizer!") Sigh. Still, Louis Jourdan is HOT and my love for Leslie Caron is complete nepotism: she is a petite brunette who was a ballet dancer. Sarah and I have had annual "Gigi" nights since high school. We have dinner, drink champagne, and watch the film. I never tire of the moment that Gaston realizes that Gigi is too special to make his mistress and he goes back to her apartment in the middle of the night and proposes. If you have seen the film, you will understand when I say it is not a bore!

2. French Wine - As much as I have enjoyed my wine tastings at the wineries on the North Fork of Long Island and Italian wines at Otto, I still love French wine from France. John introduced me to Beaujolais, his favorite, and I get it rather inexpensively at the wine store by Cassie's apartment on the UES: Best Cellars. I love cooking with French wine, especially when making beef burgandy.

3. Language - Many of the words Shakespeare used in his plays are French in their origins. My first introduction to French was in 5th grade with Madame Bodnar. She was a prissy Frenchwoman, but I chose to take French with her anyway. I have fond memories of French class in high school with Madame Cowan. She was tres magnifique. Lets face it, the French curses are awesome to say: zut alors! merde! sacre bleu!

4. Chocolat - Ok this is so obvious I cannot comment any further.

5. Fromage - If you haven't been to Artisinal in New York City, GO! Sarah and I ate there for our annual "Holi-day" last year and the mac and cheese was delish. I took Missy and Ed there last January for dinner (well, Jack was technically eating there, too) and we had an amazing pot of fondue. Of course I had to deal with a horribly OBNOXIOUS reservationist who was French to get the reserve, but it was worth it. ;)

6. Victor Hugo - I read Les Miz one summer on the beach. It wasn't a beach read, but I loved it. I have the French soundtrack to the musical thanks to Tamara. It is much more beautiful in the vernacular. Eponine is a heroine I shall always empathize with.

7. Edith Piaf - I listen to Madame Edith when I cook. La Vie en Rose. She has a very strong quality to her voice, and of course she has that joie de vivre!

8. Degas - Being a ballerina many moons ago, my mother became obsessed with me having Degas prints. The ballerinas are, indeed, beautiful. Lately my tastes have changed with his work. After visiting the MET a month ago, I truly loved his nudes and bathers.

9. Ballet - Well, since we were on the subject: I was a ballet dancer for 12 years. I loved the grace and beauty of the art. The names for each movement sounded as beautiful as the movement looked: plie, pas de bouree, pas de chat, frappe, etc.

10. Vincent Perez - A handsome French actor who stared in Indochine and Queen Margot.

Only a *PHILISTINE* will allow politics to get in the way of their view of France and its culture. Open yourself up and realize that the past 65 years of French history should NOT eradicate all that it has contributed to art, culture, food, music, and dance. Oui? OUI!

"The impulse of gratitude swelled in my heart." ~ Jane Eyre

An email sent to my sisters today, with a cc: to my parents...

Dear Missy and Robin,

Before we start talking about the menu, I want to tell you both how thankful I am to have you as sisters. You are amazing women that I am grateful to call my sisters. Yesterday I was thinking about how awesome we are as a unit.

Last year's Thanksgiving was nice because we were out at Westbury Manor, so I think it would be nice to try and recreate that by having everyone seated as they arrive and getting started. I know that it sounds crazy not to do mezze, but we can do it on Christmas. But for the sake of the new parents and baby, lets make this simple. :) Missy, I think we should start at 3pm.

Alright, lets plan:

White Wines (Daddy) - Wine websites recommend Chardonnay for white and a Pinot Noir for red. Pop, get Long Island wines if you can...they are not expensive and they are so good. Raedar's has a good selection, as does the wine store in the Waldbaums shopping center called Simply Wines.

First Course
Butternut Squash Soup (A) - this will be made the night before and be heated
Waldorf Salad (A) - this will also be made the night before and placed on fresh greens

Main Course
The Turkey (no, not Jack! a real one) (R) - bring this whole and we can carve it at the house.
Gravy (R) - heated up
Cornbread (M) - this can be made the night before and stored in an airtight container
Stuffing (M)
Mashed Potatoes (R) - you will need to make these the morning of
Green bean casserole (A) - must cook in the oven
Mashed Yams with Brown Sugar and Spices (A) - must cook in oven; Williams Sonoma recipe
Cranberry Sauce (A)

Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie (R will bake)
Cake from D'Aquilia for birthdays (Anta)
Cookies (Grandma)
Ice Cream (M)

We will talk this week about coordinating this more.
Love, Amy

Thursday, November 10, 2005

"I lay on you my sovereign behest to furbish up your lungs and other vocal organs, as they will be wanted on my royal service." ~ Jane Eyre

My favorite opera aria was written by Puccini: O Mio Babbino Caro.

I first heard the aria in the opening credits of my favorite movie, A Room With a View. I remember being twelve and watching the movie on Masterpiece Theatre. I purchased the book and read it (I taught the novel to my seniors last year), but I also purchased the VHS. I had to find out what the aria was called. I recall asking my father to drive me to Tower Records, and the old woman in the classical music section helped me find a version of the piece performed by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

That was 15 years ago.

To this day, I do not tire of hearing that piece.

In my cd player right now is one of Sarah Brightman's; she does an excellent rendition of it.

The narration is that of a young girl who begs her father to allow her to marry her boyfriend.

The aria is not from my favorite opera, though.

My favorite opera is Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin (based on a poem by Pushkin).

I saw the opera performed a few years ago at the Metropolitan Opera House with my sister, Missy. It was a lovely evening. We had dinner at Fiorello's with lots of wine and delicious anti-pasti, and then we spent a lovely evening watching and listening to a beautiful production.

My favorite part of the story is when the young heroine, Tatiana, writes a letter declaring her love for Onegin. She is much younger than he is. She is a simple country girl, and he is an urban playboy. He comes to take care of the estate of a dead uncle, and their first meeting is when she comes to the estate. His uncle lent Tatiana books, and she comes to borrow another from the library. Their discourse is formal, but already there are signs of attraction between the two. She takes her book, but with her she also takes affection for Onegin. Their paths cross throughout the weeks, and finally one night she cannot hold in her passion any longer.

Tatiana is awake late at night, unable to keep still in her bed. She rises, grabs a feather quill and a piece of paper, and writes a beautiful love letter to Onegin. Tatiana is a gifted writer. She gives the letter to a servant and it is delivered to Onegin in the early morning.

Their next encounter is at a party. He gives her back the letter, stating that he is too old for love and is resigned to be a bachelor. He thinks her too young and too naive. He takes out the letter and gives it back to her, stating that he does not want to keep a document that would embarrass her. He rejects not only her love, but her passionate words. She is heartbroken, and as much as he tries to console her, because deep down he cares, she is devastated.

There is more to the story, but these are my favorite moments. The rest of the story is for you to learn...

What has inspired this entry? Dinner tonight. Right now Chicken Tetrazzini is baking in the oven for an hour ~ a perfect meal for a cold evening. Here is the background on the opera star, and the recipe follows that.

Luisa Tetrazzini (June 29, 1871 - April 28, 1940) was an Italian soprano. She was born in Florence, where she also studied at the Istituto Musicale and made her debut in 1890. She toured the world, making a sensation at her Covent Garden debut as Violetta, and a lucrative career both in opera and concerts. Her final appearance was in London in 1934. She died in Milan.Tetrazzini performed Rigoletto (Verdi), Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), Elissir D'Amore (Donizetti), and Gianni Schicchi (Puccini). She sang in Mexico City, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Rome. Tetrazzini sang with Enrico Caruso, Francesco Tamagno, Lorenzo Salvi and Beniamino Gigli.Luisa is thought to be eponymous of the moderately popular American dish Tetrazzini, which seems to have originated in San Francisco, where she resided for years.

10 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin (about 4 cups)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
10 ounces spaghetti
3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken, including cooked giblets if desired
1 cup cooked peas
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan 1/3 cup fine fresh bread crumbs
In a large heavy saucepan cook the mushrooms in 1/4 cup of the butter over moderate heat, stirring, until most of the liquid they give off has evaporated, stir in the flour, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add in a stream the milk, the broth, and the wine, stirring, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring, and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. In a kettle of boiling salted water cook the spaghetti until it is al dente and drain it well. In a large bowl combine well the spaghetti, the mushroom sauce, the chicken, the peas, and salt and pepper to taste, stir in 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, and transfer the mixture to a buttered shallow 3 quart casserole. In a small bowl combine well the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan, the bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the mixture evenly over the Tetrazzini, and dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits. The Tetrazzini may be prepared up to this point 1 month in advance and kept frozen, covered. Bake the Tetrazzini in the middle of a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

"The daylight came. I rose at dawn." ~ Jane Eyre

Sometimes we tend to categorize ourselves as either a morning person or a night person.

I am a morning person.

I was thinking about this as I breakfasted alone at the diner yesterday, drinking coffee, eating a short stack with over easy eggs, and reading Their Eyes Were Watching God. My mind feels more centered in the morning, and my body feels more capable of exerting itself. The quietness of the morning calms me, and the food and drink of the morning comforts me.

I don't mind waking up early for work. Sometimes I will set the alarm a little early so I can lie in bed and watch the rich, blue light enter my bedroom.

Sarah McLaughlin's lyrics to her song Answer address the feelings of peace after a difficult night: Cast me gently into morning, for the night has been unkind. There have been many unkind nights in my life, but very few unkind mornings.

Many of my favorite memories lie in the hours of the morning...

*Early Christmas morning during my childhood, is, of course, a favorite morning. My sisters and I were always up before dawn. To satiate us, my parents would leave little items in the stockings we had in our room, but knowing those were there only made us rise earlier. I remember one specific Christmas morning I was up around 5am. Robin still slept, as did my parents, but Missy and I were up. We both crept to the landing of the spiral staircase, peeking down towards what was underneath the Christmas tree. It would be at least three more hours before we all sat as a family to open gifts. I camped out in Missy's room for the rest of the morning; I remember talking in whispers and eventually taking a catnap next to her as the room filled with the deep blue light I love so much.

*My father used to take my twin and I out to breakfast at Friendly's every Saturday morning when we were young. Like clockwork, my Grandpa Krikor would meet us at the same time. It was actually all very secretive. If my grandma found out that we were eating out and not in her dining room, there could be trouble. So, he made the excuse of taking a walk, since Friendly's wasn't far, and would just coincidently meet us. Our usual table was in the back corner, and I remember always ordering chocolate milk and sitting right across from my grandpa. My grandpa and my father would be talking to each other while Robin and I blew straw wrappers at each other and poured mounds of syrup over our pancakes.

*This past summer, I arrived at summer rec ten minutes early so I could sit with my coffee for five minutes before my Kindergarteners came in. The minute the clock indicated 9:30am, my babies would enter and my entire morning was made by their smiles and reports, such as lost teeth and the like. I was given books to read, backpacks to open, and notes from mommies. I would get hugs and homemade pictures, and once I even got a a dead aunt from Hallie who thought it was a cool present for a teacher. I got their tears, too. Some mornings were tough on the few that missed their mom. Right now I miss them, especially Hallie and Christopher.

*Going to the beach by myself on early summer mornings is a pleasurable experience for me. The hair immediately gets braided, the bikini is put on, lotion is applied, beach bag is packed with a towel, a bottle of water, the newspaper, and a book, and I place my pink scrubs and black hoodie on me to protect me from the cool breezes on the shore as the sun rises. En route to Nickerson Beach, I pick up coffee and then arrive to the almost-deserted beachfront. Grabbing my popsicle chair from the trunk, I walk down to the shore. Its a long walk, but each step closer to the ocean gives me more energy, not less. There is no one there aside from a few runners; even the lifeguards have not arrived. I sit down and just stare at the water for a long time, reveling in the solitude.

*No moment is better for a teacher than when the phone rings at 4am with a colleague on the other end of the line informing you that it is a Snow Day. Snow Day mornings are pure delight. Once the call is over, it takes a while for me to fall back asleep; too much excitement! I peek out the window to see the mounds of white snow all over my stoop. Then I putter around my apartment, checking email and drinking juice, until finally I wind up back in bed to sleep for another few hours. If the storm continues all morning, I stay in my pajamas and celebrate with sipping mug after mug of hot cocoa, eating waffles for breakfast, watching Lifetime for women on tv, reading back copies of Everyday Food, and making phone calls to every one else who is home. I don't think about the afternoon: the time when I will have to shovel and clean my car. Nope, the Snow Day Morning is for guilty pleasures.

*Mornings in Sag Harbor were beautiful. It saddens me to say were, but I don't think the house will stay in Sarah's family past this upcoming spring. What I love the most about the mornings there is that everything is quiet. The only sounds come from the cove. Coffee is sipped in silence, and the newspaper is read in silence. Sometimes there is dialogue here and there about what is in the paper, but most of the time it is peaceful and serene. There are no need for words on such mornings; no words can do the view of the cove from the backyard any justice. The mornings when Rita was there were most special, especially the morning she made her famous eggs in a basket. The mornings were a time of anticipation for the rest of the day - all special. The afternoons either at the beach, boating, going wine tasting, shopping, drinking beer, eating guacamole (or crackamole as Sarah called it because it was so addictive) and dinner preparations were all great morning thoughts.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"I devoured the books they lent me." ~ Jane Eyre

I am devouring Denise Levertov.

Each poem she writes strikes more than a chord with me; it strikes my soul. She has the ability to make herself a universal lyricist for women. There is no romance in her poetry, no illusions of happy endings. Just a realistic voice about emotion and perception.

I have read this poem over two dozen times in the past week:

Prayer for Revolutionary Love

That a woman not ask a man to leave meaningful work to
follow her.
That a man not ask a woman to leave meaningful work to
follow him.

That no one try to put Eros in bondage.
But that no one put a cudgel in the hands of Eros.

That our loyalty to one another and our loyalty to our work
not be set in false conflict.

That our love for each other give us love for each other's work.
That our love for each other's work give us love for one another.

That our love for each other's work give us love for one another.
That our love for each other give us love for each other's work.

That our love for each other, if need be,
give way to absence. And the unknown.

That we endure absence, if need be,
without losing our love for each other.
Without closing our doors to the unknown.

"She seemed to examine me warily." ~ Jane Eyre

I have voted at the same polling place for five years now, and every Election Day the old biddies who run the booths either scrutinize me or give me a difficult time.

This morning was no exception.

Past November mornings have included comments such as, "You don't look old enough to vote" before I even checked in, as well as inquiring what the origins of my ethnic last name are, masked by a "oh that is hard to pronounce, what kind of name is that?" They won't acknowledge me when I say "good morning," and they certainly don't smile at me. They know we belong to different parties.

This morning the ancient ninny at the table, surrounded by other ancient ninnies, insisted that my vote was by absentee ballot. I smiled politely and told her twice that she was looking at the wrong line next to my name. It was the name above me who voted by such a ballot. She was determined to keep me out of that booth. Finally an older gentleman behind me intervened and set her straight. She didn't even apologize to me. She shoved the pen in my hand for me to sign and wouldn't look me in the eye.

I got in that booth and what I pressed buttons would make these old ladies pass out: I voted all democrat.

I want to tell these old conservative bags off when I was finished voting for Suozzi and crew:

Shame on you. Your grandmothers weren't allowed to vote, so lets be nice to each other today in the spirit of Ms. Stanton. Both my grandfathers fought in WWII next to your husbands, ladies. So I can vote for whomever I want on each Election Day. Do your worst with petty subterfuge; its not going to work. I will always do my civic duty.

And one day when I am your age managing the polls, I will be extra nice to the young folks that come in, thanking them for exercising an important right.


Monday, November 07, 2005

"What-what is that girl with curled hair? I have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly!" ~ Jane Eyre

Yesterday during my date with D.G., my hair briefly became a topic of conversation. I was more interested in his hair, and mussed it up to his dismay because he ever so subtley made sure he fixed it after I was done.

I can't wait to do that to him again.

I had missed my salon appointment yesterday morning and was peevish about that, especially because I had wanted to have my hair blown out straight.

While I would never think about permanently straightening my curls, sometimes its nice to have a break from them. Being only a child in the 80's, I missed my moment of glory when perms were in style and every woman was spending tons of money to have what I have naturally. If only we could go back to the days when Kelly McGillis' big hair were the object of desire for Tom Cruise's character in Top Gun.

Jenniter Aniston's "Rachel" look of the 90's was hard on us curly haired girls. I don't know if we have recovered yet, but we are getting there.

But one must look to the past to understand that the trend of straight hair by no means measures up to the history of curly hair as a trend. These curls are what women throughout history wanted. Curly haired girls, get your notebooks out. Its time for a history lesson:

ANCIENT GREECE: Greek women wore their hair long and in corkscrew curls.
MEDIEVAL: Women of the upper social classes wore their hair in loose curls.
RENAISSANCE: Ancient greek curls were revived by women.
ELIZABETHAN: Queen Elizabeth wore her hair curled, and women during this time strove to imitate her curly hair
BAROQUE: Women had curls that trimmed their foreheads and fell like ringlets down the sides of their faces. Curly hair was the rage of this era.
REGENCY: Regency girls often curled their hair in the front.
VICTORIAN: Barley curls or Sugar curls were long curls worn throughout the century

(source: http://www.crystalinks.com/hair2.html)

Curly hair is also known to be symbolic of sex.

The out of control, wild look is indicative of bed head. In the above quote from Jane Eyre, Brocklehurst sees Julia's hair as being defiant. Though she is not, curly haired women are known to be wild, defiant, slightly unpredictable. Does this theory apply to me? Decide for yourself.

But my thoughts about my curly hair are done.

They turn back to D.G.'s. His short, greying, thick hair is perhaps something these curls want to tangle with.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"I was comforted." ~ Jane Eyre

What comforts me:

1. barley tea
2. the sound of my parents on the other end of the phone
3. the cold sand in my feet at the beach in the early morning
4. my Lolly doll
5. any song by Enya
6. candlelight
7. a pillow top bed
8. my pink pussycat flannel pajamas
9. the fact that the middle name of my nephew is Krikor, after my grandpa
10. the sound of rain
11. the fact that Shakespeare plays are performed after 400 years
12. Beethoven's 9th symphony
13. the smell of pumpkin pie
14. the smell of incense in church
15. Lewis
16. mashed potatoes
17. when Cleo used to nuzzle up to me
18. any episode of Sex and the City
19. chicken lo mein
20. Anne of Green Gables
21. the smell of smoke from chimneys on my block during the wintertime
22. listening to the song "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys
23. drinking port
24. anything chocolate
25. being inside a library

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"With me, its fully as much a matter of feeling as a matter of conscience" ~ Jane Eyre

I fear my students will never feel a passionate idealism about this country or have a strong conscience about what is just in this world.

I believe that after their viewing of "Two Days in October"
(www.pbs.org) that such feelings and consciousness lie dormant inside of them. Some of their written responses to the documentary about two days during the Vietnam War are a glimmer of hope for me. Perhaps with the right direction, we can guide them to express these ideas by speaking up and taking action about issues in this country today instead of giving the appearance of apathy.

Growing up, my father always said that if I were alive during Vietnam, I would be in the front of the protest lines, leading the crowds. I don't think that is true, especially after teaching The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.

If I were a young woman during that time, I would recognize that as a civilian I was fortunate to have the choice of whether or not to actively protest the war. The soldiers did not have a choice. They were innocent victims. I know I would want to help the innocent victims, so I would have trained as an RN and flown to Vietnam to work as a nurse.

My conscience would want to lead anti-war demonstrations, but my feelings of empathy would lead me directly to the soldiers to be a support system.

Here are a few words from my students about what they saw in the documentary:

"The Madison Police felt the students were trying to 'take over their country.' I think that is wrong because it is also the student's country." ~ Courtney

"No matter how much the American soldiers disagreed with the government spin on the ambush, they continued to fight and protect their country - that is the definition of a true soldier." ~ Liz

"Our country is in a war right now. I wonder why it is not the same way today as it was during Vietnam. There are many people who oppose the war in Iraq." ~ Sal

"Another moment that I felt was poignant was when Sewell was interviewed 35 years later after he called the police on the students and he still cried and felt guilty." ~ Kristine

"When the lieutenant of the Black Lions was actually in tears during this interview, it was evident that the events of the ambush will affect him for his entire life." ~ Ross

"Just knowing the truth and seeing how the riot and ambush were portrayed to the public by the government and media makes me think that many more incidents throughout history have been lied about or falsely portrayed." ~ Alison

"People in the U.S. have the right to speak out about what they think is wrong; they shouldn't be beaten up by the people who are supposed to protect them." ~ Yine

"The relatives recalling the information about the death of their loved ones struck me with sadness to the point that I was almost in tears. My dad was in the Marine Corp when I was a baby and fought in Desert Storm. I don't know what I or my family would have done if he died." ~ Brietta

"Its really sad that these veterans can't live a normal life and are always seeing visions of their dead friends' faces." ~ Amanda