the event of a thread

20121228-214916.jpgThe event of a thread is made up of many crossings of the near at hand and the far away: it is a body crossing space, is a writer’s hand crossing a sheet of paper, is a voice crossing a room in a paper bag… – Ann Hamilton

20121228-214904.jpgThe exhibit at the Armory on Park Avenue and 66th is hard to explain.

There are pigeons, swings, talking paper bags, a writer, a reader, a listener, more…

The kids did not want to go but were glad they went.

20121228-215013.jpgIt must be experienced. Laying on your back watching the billowing silk above. Hypnotizing.

I had one insight which is this: it is not work that makes the world go (the curtain lift), it is 20121228-215054.jpgplay.

Play is the engine.

H. discovered that our swing was not pulling the curtain alone. He spotted this when we were looking down from above. Our swing was inextricably, almost invisibly, connected to someone else’s swing who was also making the curtain dance.

20121228-215217.jpgThrough play.

I found out about this exhibit while scanning my Facebook feed. Thanks, Yris Bilia! You made it look so fun. And it was.









Getting Help

No one does it alone. No one.

I am terrible at getting help. So bad. I would much rather be the help than the helped. Having a husband with Parkinson’s Disease, I find his ability to help is diminishing. Of course he still pitches in and cooks dinner, but the quality of his work and the time it takes to get things done is very frustrating. For me. I need help.

On the flight home from Florida, I began to compose a letter to some church friends asking for their help with my darlings while I am going to be away for a few days for a worktrip to New Mexico. But then the plane hit turbulence and I put my laptop away. I have not opened that file. A part of me felt ashamed that I needed help.

In a city and a country of rugged individualists, I felt stupid and weak for asking for parenting and family support.

However, a few recent events in my life and in the world have reminded me that human beings need one another. We are social animals who like to live and work in community. It takes a village. We all need help – coping with an ill spouse, raising children, writing a book, organizing a demonstration or running a marathon. Here are some examples:

1. Occupy Wall Street — if you demonstrate alone, you look crazy. If you demonstrate with thousands of other people, you look like you have a cause.

2. NaNoWriMo — even the loneliness of novel writing can be ameliorated by thousands of on-line and real life friends cheering one another on. Creating small daily goals adds up to big accomplishments.

3. My Daughter’s Soccer Team — it’s much more fun to celebrate a win in a group than to win alone.

This weekend I saw this performance art piece at the foot of the High Line. The women were cutting each other's hair.

4. Haircuts — they just look better when someone else does them. In the same way, you can’t set your own broken arm.

5. My Family’s Well Being — I’ve met with a former colleague who started her own eldercare business and is helping us with Chris’s caretaking and I’ve also met with a lawyer to learn about protecting our family assets. These were huge and difficult calls to make and conversations to have. There’s more work to be done, but it’s a start.

Someday I may get back to writing that letter to my church friends to see if anyone wants to watch Charlotte’s soccer game or share a meal or prod the children to homework while I’m away. But I hesitate to finish and send the letter.

What if no one can help? Then I will end up exactly where I am. And it’s not such a bad place to be.

My Beautiful Bridge

I saw a performance piece “Bits and Pieces” at the Elizabethtown History Center museum a week ago. Then I saw the performance again.

The performance really hit me. Even the second time, I wept. Because the piece somehow captured it — the bridge, any bridge, is a metaphor for a woman. She serves, she links, she works, and suddenly, she is no more.

The Champlain Bridge, between Addison, Vermont and Crown Point, NY, the piece reminded me, can still be seen in the movie “What Lies Beneath” with Harrison Ford (who, like me and Hilary, grew up in Park Ridge, Ill).

I was not near Crown Point when the bridge came down in December of 2009. But a friend sent me the link on Facebook. It so shocked me, caused me to gasp. The destruction of a monolith, like the World Trade Center, is just unthinkable. Transfixiating.

Lindsay Pontius produced the oral history/performance piece along with school kids from Moriah. It gives a voice to the people who made the bridge, used it, watched it implode.

The 80-year old bridge was more than a bridge. But she was not cared for enough.

This year, there is no bridge: businesses suffer; folks reminisce. ‘Bridge Road is the Bridge to Nowhere Road,’ a performer says.

What lies beneath is her legacy. Soon another Mother Bridge will be put in place. We will feel the old bridge’s demise was inevitable. The unbelievable becomes inevitable.

Until the new bridge steps in, New Yorkers board the ferry and cross the narrowest point of Lake Champlain to get to Vermont.

The Artist Is Present

This blog is definitely becoming a review of MoMA’s latest show. Let me give you advice on Marina Abramovic’s performance art show.

Be present.

I think that has something to do with it. Don’t want to give the experience away.

Two real people in the nude stand facing each other in a narrow doorway. Knife ladders lead to three small rooms in another area.

Videos of the artist carving a star on her belly with a broken wine glass, bashing a skull against a bosom, walking the Great Wall. Video of nude men bouncing their hips into green, green grass.

There is one kind of performance art that you can actually see the Artist performing on the 2nd floor at the MoMA. (yes, the Artist is Present!) And I have tried it. We call it a Staring Contest. If you participate in a Staring Contest long enough apparently — like all day with quite a few people, then you, too may be a Performance Artist. Am I missing the point?

Oh, I see, I need to tie my hair in a knot with someone else’s hair and sit back to back for the entire day. I need to make myself pass out somehow.

I hope I don’t sound like crabby old person, like someone who goes, ”Meh! This is art! Give me Rembrandt! Now that’s art!”

Here’s my point – I don’t like to flinch when I look at art. But then, I suppose when you flinch, you are present.

The show’s oddly seductive (I went to see it because someone at the opening night of Chris’s play, “The Forest,” said she’d seen it six times). And yes, it’s very, very modern. I find it awesome that the MoMA features real live living artists and not just dead bones (of which there is a humongous pile in the center of The Artist is Present exhibit. And I think Abramovic carved the meat off of them herself and you can watch a video of her doing it.)

The show only goes for another couple of weeks. But until then, you, too, can be present. Otherwise take my word for it. It’s cool and weird.