Around Christmas, I picked up the book Paris In Color from Flight 001 on Greenwich Street in the Village (right near my old Hudson Street apartment). It peers out at me on my bedroom dresser and I pick it up every now again. It is overflowing with enchanting pictures of locations in Paris, ‘ordinary’ things — cars, chairs, motorbikes, vegetables, flowers, tables, pastries, signs — all in glorious color! I wonder… could you put the same type pictorial together about NYC…? I don’t think so. Our city is just not that colorful. But you certainly can in relation to Paris!
At the New York Times “T” Magazine blog earlier this week, they featured a new Paris restaurant, Le 6 Paul Bert, and the photo again points to the use of striking color. Red! It makes such a statement and is so uplifting, don’t you think? Clearly, I need to add more color in my life because I am so drawn to it.
Both of these impressions remind me how much I’d like to go back to Paris. When I was last there (my only time), I was macrobiotic and spent all my time seeking out macrobiotic restaurants, of which there were quite a few! I finally caved towards the end (the food was SO salty that I started craving mega sweets – a whole yin-yang thing).
Le 6 Paul Bert is so not macrobiotic but it still sounds fab! If you’d like to read the review so you can remember it for your next Paris trip (and mine!), here is an excerpt:
If you think French food has lost its laurels, next trip to Paris, head for the rue Paul Bert. Thanks to the shrewd and very amiable restaurateur Bertrand Auboyneau, this short, quiet street in the 11th Arrondissement offers a full house of addresses that will prove you wrong. The mother ship is Le Bistrot Paul Bert (No. 18), which has become an internationally renowned cult favorite for being the bistro that’s been ticking all the boxes on what the whole world thinks a Paris bistro should be ever since it opened some 10 years ago — we’re talking a gorgeous flea-market interior, great traditional French grub, a terrific wine list and service with just enough pouty posing attitude to let you know you’re in Paris.
Then the latest, pictured above, Le 6 Paul Bert:
This place is all about conviviality, with a long table d’hotes, a few seats at the bar, and a much-in-demand table for six in front of the open kitchen where the Montrealer chef Louis-Philippe Riel rises to the challenge of cooking a completely new small-plates menu daily. Think seared scallops with roasted onions and chopped scallion tops in an almost invisible citrus dressing; herring with beets, pickles and sour cream — a dashing little feint at the deli traditions of Montreal and New York; barbecued pork with pickled vegetable slaw on a miniature crepe of mashed carrot — perfect food from the Chang gang. This isn’t the kind of food that will interrupt a conversation. Instead, these often modest but impeccably cooked and deeply satisfying little dishes come back to haunt you a week later when you urgently want some more. (N.B.: Book a late reservation here — the kitchen will be under less pressure — and wait it out nearby at the a new wine bar by the chef Bertrand Grébaut of the smash hit bistro Septime.)
Le 6 Paul Bert, 6 rue Paul Bert, 11th Arrondissement; 011-33-1-4379-1432
Septime Cave, 3 rue Basfroi, 11th Arrondissement; no phone, no reservations.
The other Bertrand Auboyneau restaurant is Ecailler du Bistrot (No. 22).
You can also pick up Paris in Color at Anthropologie.
It’s Christmas Eve Day and I am sitting at the counter of Don’s Pizza King on Belmar’s main strip eating an eggplant sandwich. Mitchel and I are here because I vowed last year I would not be in New York City for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. That was the first year that I felt truly alienated by the overarching gloss that can be Christmas. We take to the Jersey Shore driving from Brooklyn in my old Buick to … escape I suppose, to experience something that is not that.
The previous Christmas Eve, I ambled on my own walking through Park Slope. Increasingly gentrified, and so pretty, pristine, and perfect, passing brownstone after brownstone with twinkling lights in rainbows of colors, live Christmas trees in the large windows, it was so picturesque, I couldn’t help but cry. I felt so alienated from it. I’d had traditional Christmases for so many years but was scrambling a bit to navigate the holiday, figure out what it meant for me – now. That night, walking block by block past the on-the-surface perfection, I promised myself that I would avoid this same experience, no matter what, the next year. By the time 11 months have gone by, I had not forgotten. This is the reason Mitchel and I have left the confines of Brooklyn and traveled down the Garden State Parkway in my old grey Buick and are now stopped on the Main Street that extends south from Asbury Park on this wintry day.
Belmar wasn’t really our destination, we are staying in Red Bank, we’d hoped for Asbury, the place I have the greatest connection, but we discovered everything there was closed, so we kept driving.
I notice that they are trying to spruce up Belmar, a concept that seems almost sacrilegious. Don’s, where we end up, part restaurant, part counter pizzeria, boasts that it has been in this location for 40 years. It fronts the original décor, a bit worn down, the tables sporting red and white tablecloths, charming nonetheless. In New York City, it gets a bit tiring: neighborhood treasures cut down and pasted over with the shiny, the new. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Belmar has always been a little rough around the edges. During the summer, it is, in effect, considered a “college” town, albeit without any college. When I was in college, I lived here for two summers. One year, I lived with 23 roommates in a modest house on a quiet street. The most notable thing about it was its broken front door. To enter, you had to crouch down and fit yourself through the bottom half of the door. One time my parents came to visit, I was excited to show them the house, and, perhaps more importantly, my independence. I thought nothing of the broken door. They were horrified. (They wanted me to leave there immediately I think. There was no way that was happening.) The following year, I lived with three other roommates in a sort of rooming house above a bar called George’s on 13th Street, a half block from the ocean. My roommates arrived on the weekends but I was there all week. (I worked at a Sears and my friend Regina would come from Long Island and we would go off to see bands along the shore or in Philadelphia.) George ran the bar and his mother ran the boarding part of the building. She’d go out each morning at 6 a.m. for a quick swim in the ocean and leave coffee and donuts in the entranceway at the bottom of the stairs. I have no recollection of how old George’s mother was at the time. I’d say 70 but when you’re 20, anyone a bit older seems old. (She was probably 50.)
Now that we’re here, I want to check the status of these two locations, show Mitchel these places I lived. However, as we drive along the quiet streets, I can’t find the door-challenged house and George’s entire block seems to have been sacrificed to the developer gods, left empty, a very sad casualty of the rush to build in the once “booming” economy.
Seated in Don’s, at the counter, I pick up the Asbury Park Press and begin reading the cover story about this guy, Steve Brigham, who quit his job to help the homeless in the area. I perk up, not really expecting much as I began reading. This story is amazing. I share it with Mitchel, “This guy brings food! blankets! propane! for heaters to these people who live in the woods on the outskirts of town. A homeless man directed him to the location where these homeless people live. He doesn’t ask anything of them or have any stipulations for helping. He travels there in a makeshift bus.” I am very touched by this. Perhaps because it’s Christmas Eve … perhaps the story itself just being told gives me hope.
Mitchel seems unimpressed. He’s more interested in what song is playing on the jukebox. “I wonder who’s singing this,” he says. I wonder too. He asks the waitress and she tells us that it is the Romantics. Neither of us thinks this is correct – it’s too political, too pensive, too guitar-driven, melodic and quiet.
I reflect on the story, on this guy Steve Brigham. Why does it seem that people who don’t have much are often the ones who put themselves on the line? In New York City, particularly under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, the corporations and developers have extreme power and any notion of helping out the ‘little guy’ got squashed many years ago. It’s so quaint that if you suggest something else could exist, people almost laugh or scoff. It resembles “The Protestant Ethic” without any ethics. Max Weber’s seminal book, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” suggests that, ingrained in our American heads, a notion which originated with the Calvinists, is the concept of working hard to such a degree that we almost can’t NOT work hard. (Okay, yes, this is simplified but that’s the general gist of it.) Now it seems to translate to, work hard, make money, ethicists need not apply.
I can feel my need for a connection to something, something that’s missing, that I recall from long ago. I didn’t need someone to bring me propane but it’s as if I was living in the woods and no one knew I needed a blanket. Or maybe no one knew I was in the woods. The problem, I realized, is what I needed, even I didn’t know.
I have amazing memories of home and hominess and tradition for Christmas – year after year of those memories – and I cherish those. Yet, I also appreciate the opportunity to figure out a new path, and to understand that the path is not always so crystal clear, and might feel sad, it can go in many different directions and that is okay.
Down the Jersey shore, an hour south of where I grew up, the sturdy pensiveness on the boardwalk, the smell and grit, the beauty and strength of the ocean, the memories of my old haunts … they all instill in me the feeling of endless possibility. There is an expansiveness this place evokes within me that never fails. It is where I go when I want to feel home, connection. My endeavor works to create a new tradition, even if just for this year, one that makes me feel “spirit” in a pivotal way, one that has meaning – for me.
Mitchel and I stumble a bit because we don’t quite plan our Christmas Eve dinner. As we attempt to book a dinner reservation, everything is sold out. I figured everyone would be in their homes, Christmas trees swathed in lights and garland; I didn’t realize they are out eating someone else’s cooking. We find the one place no one is which is a bit eerie: our hotel’s restaurant. So, our Christmas Eve dinner is a bit isolating. However, even that has its eerie charm. We created a way of celebrating that worked just fine. I felt like a little inner light lit up – like all those glittery Park Slope trees. It’s not pristine or “perfect” but it’s lit. I figured out how to drape the lights and where to find an outlet. Or maybe you could say I found the propane.
– I originally began writing this in 2007 based on my experience that Christmas and wanted to complete it. It felt right for this year. p.s. Mitchel suggested I add more context to it how I was dislodged from my Park Slope apartment from a new landlord who bought the building, etc. and this added to … it all. I will revise it before Christmas 2013!
Updated – Originally, this site was (is) supposed to be about the writing of my book or writing in general or life in general. Now, a year has gone by with no new posts! I’m going to start updating here again, first with one (two) quotes from writer Anne Lamott:
I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good enough at it, and I don’t think you have time to waste on someone who does not respond to you with kindness and respect. You don’t want to spend your time around people who make you hold your breath. You can’t fill up when you’re holding your breath.
Writing is about filling up, filling up when you are empty, letting images and ideas and smells run down like water - just as writing is about dealing with the emptiness – the emptiness destroys enough writers without the help of a friend or a spouse.
So true, right? Sometimes I feel like I have spent much time around people whose presence causes me to hold my breath. It happens…
I found that quote inspirational enough, but then, while I was trying to figure out the correct title of Ms. Lamott’s book and where to link, I found this quote:
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.
So great. ― Both from Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Addendum: A previous version of this post was inspired by the first quote and was about who you share your writing with, relating an experience I had when I asked someone to read a piece I wrote and the person told me, “Sorry, I don’t have time.” All the reasons this person listed as to why she had no time were legitimate, of course. But it wasn’t ‘oh I’ll come back to it in a week, two weeks, a month,’ it was just “I have no time.” That was sort of devastating in a way too since I thought I was being so careful who I asked (as Ms. Lamott advises).
I realized without that context these quotes may read like pure depression. (Ha.)
At times writing can be so daunting and so personal (so dauntingly personal? so personally daunting?) which is probably why I was drawn to writing a citizen journalism blog (which is personal but in a different way).
Okay, more to come!
I’ve had some media coverage over the last two months and wanted to share! First, at this link, is a segment from NBC New York. I was interviewed for this story that aired in late September on the dying trees around the Washington Square Fountain. It’s a saga I’ve been covering on my Washington Square Park Blog. The reporter, Chris Glorioso, did a really nice job on the piece. Video of the segment is at the link.
Next, last week, this article appeared in the Washington Square News, New York University’s daily newspaper. They don’t have articles on their web site so I’ve posted it below. I talk about the book a bit. Some of the info is off – this blog is more for thoughts, musings, the writing of the book (tho’ it’s way overdue for an update!); the B-girl Guide web site/blog will be for covering the topics I noted. (Okay, and I probably wouldn’t have picked that photo for this story but… so it goes.)
In 2003, on the eve of the second anniversary, I wrote a piece about how it felt right after September 11th, 2001 — that date thousands of people died, and, in various and profound ways, the lives of virtually every one of us in the United States and throughout the world were altered. The events of that day – aircraft intentionally targeting buildings in NYC and D.C. – changed U.S. and international history. Whether you knew someone who died or not, you were personally affected. Soon after, wars were launched and policies were ushered in that would have been quite difficult to implement prior.
For those of us in New York City on September 11th and who spent time here in the weeks afterwards, there was something else we experienced. In the aftermath of tragedy, something broke open. There was a raw, vulnerable, almost gentle feeling in the air. Even riding the subway there was a quiet bond between passengers. It’s harder to recall now but almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this experienced it.
It was something so intangible that if I didn’t write about it, there would be no way to know it even happened. It’s not generally reported in the media and the rush to war happened so soon afterwards that it’s almost unrecognized in any public reflection of that time period.
What reminded me and caused me to write about it was, when, on September 10th, 2003, I encountered a photography exhibit, “Words Fail,” by Richard Law at a church in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I didn’t intend to walk in and yet I couldn’t avoid the pull inside. Law’s goal was to recapture what it felt like on September 12th; the next day, featuring photographs he took around the city at that time. His exhibit called up the feelings I’d felt and experiences I’d had, causing me to revisit and remember. Law documented many of the heartbreaking “Missing” signs that were posted everywhere you looked throughout Manhattan; as well as pictures of Union Square, filled with flowers, candles, signs, calls for “peace.”
Walking through the exhibit, viewing the “missing” signs, I was struck by how beautiful everyone looked. In the days afterwards, the signs implied that the “missing” were somewhere and would possibly be found. These photos weren’t their “promotion” head shots or what they looked like going to work in the World Trade Center. These were personal. Something about the handmade quality of those “Missing signs” reminded me that someone connected to the person prepared this — Written in magic marker above the photo or typed on the paper was everything they knew about this man or woman on a piece of paper. Weight, height, age, profession, family, and interests were all recorded to identify the missing. Blocks & blocks of city streets were designated for flyers with specific locations taking precedence — St. Vincent’s Hospital in the Village(since shuttered), the Armory on Lexington Avenue, Grand Central Station, Union Square.
9/11 caused me to get involved in activism in NYC in a different way. In 2001, I was still new to being “an activist.” My background was primarily as a music publicist, having only more recently left my full-time job after working in the music business for over 10 years representing high profile rock artists. I’d been involved with grassroots environmental advocacy for about a year and was still figuring my way around with much to learn. 9/11 caused me to look at war, not an easy topic to take on, particularly in light of what happened on that day and the atmosphere that followed.
On September 12th, I traveled by subway into downtown Manhattan from Brooklyn to meet up with hundreds of people at a community center to discuss what was going to happen next. Those of us who gathered wanted to enter into the debate (if there even was one). In that large auditorium in the Charas Community Center, a former public school on 9th Street on the Lower East Side, I encountered a different form of activism and activist. A core group had met up on September 11th despite closings of subways and bridges and the overall environment in the city. They had roots in the direct action movement with a very thoughtful tone put forth aimed at outreach and dialogue. To a newbie like me, they seemed edgy and arty. They were ready to put themselves on the line.
Meetings were held weekly at Charas. It became a place to think through strategic, historical, political, and emotional issues in a fluid, dynamic way. People from all walks of life came; all races, classes, ages, and backgrounds. The group was set up to be non-hierarchical; there were “points of unity.” If you felt something was wrong, there was something called “in the moment-stop” and a person could bring their issue up to the group and it would be addressed. These ideas changed the way I worked with others and how I viewed activism in general. This experience caused me to look at everything differently. I was very much inspired by people coming together and there was an almost magical unity at that time. (Others, more seasoned, may remember these meetings as harder to bring together a new, diverse group of people.)
A name was finally settled upon – War Is Not the Answer. The meetings became a space for those who were trying to navigate a media environment where if you were against war, it often felt like you were the only one. No alternative views challenging the Bush Administration were presented in the news. Just old war generals who supposedly had all the answers. Hundreds of people were inspired to participate in those early months. Word spread via word of mouth and the internet.
Another location people congregated was at Union Square in downtown Manhattan at 14thStreet, the entire first week after September 11th, and then particularly on Friday evenings. The George Washington-on-a-horse statue at 14th Street offered up the word “PEACE” scrawled across it in bold chalk, amidst the candles and the flowers that adorned the plaza below it. There existed the true spirit that honored the people who died that day. It was a spirit that did not deny the knowledge that people die elsewhere in large numbers & often many of us know little about it or else pay no attention. It was a spirit that knew that any day now people would die in the name of ”revenge” of 9-11, somewhere else, far away.
On September 21st, ten days after September 11th, there were thousands of New Yorkers on the streets for an anti-war march announced just three days prior via the internet. A feeling of risk and also excitement co-existed with a need to be there. (No permit, we held back the traffic ourselves, until police arrived, and even then.) There were people who found it was disrespectful and then there were people who, you could see it on their faces, felt relief that they were not alone in protesting war as the sole and inevitable response.
Later that night, a scroll on CNN reported:
Hundreds of people marched peacefully from Union Square to Times Square to demonstrate against U.S. military action in the wake of terrorist attacks that leveled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, killing thousands.
As if people did not know. It was further evidence that to question war – and the official government ‘line’ – was immediately followed in all the media by a reminder of the tragedy of the event.
As hard as it is on some level to believe 10 years has gone by, if I had not written some of these thoughts down, it would be all too easy to forget. Somewhere archived is the original War Is Not the Answer web site and, as I wrote this, I searched for my old flyers and meeting notes which exist in a folder somewhere but, alas, I could not locate them. Our old meeting spot, Charas, the community center located in an old public school, was evicted in December 2001, after existing in that spot for 20 years long before the Lower East Side was a ‘go-to’ destination. The building was sold to a developer by the Giuliani Administration. (It still sits vacant to this day). Everything seemed to change after that time, in just a few months. By December, there was a whole different feeling in the air.
I suppose that eerie but comforting calm, the connectedness New Yorkers felt immediately afterwards, when everyone was scrambling to help in some way, would have had to dissipate over time. Yet it always felt as if it happened too soon, too fast. Before we had all processed what we were thinking or had even had time to reflect, our government started using words like “revenge,” “war,” “dead or alive.”
In the midst of extreme tragedy, there was a perceptible feeling: the world could change and we would help change it. What happened next could have transpired in a much different manner but a war response and the cycle of violence is as ingrained it seems as old war generals are on traditional media. It’s hard to say how long the initial feeling lasted… was it days? Weeks? How many? It was long enough to be memorable but too short to change the course of things to come.
Top Photo: Flatbush Gardener
I was walking in Brooklyn the other day, contemplating life, as it was, when this poem appeared pasted onto a light post. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect poem to encounter on that day by writer Marge Piercy. This is when New York is at its most inspiring. You never know where you’ll find culture or nature or inspiration or a needed boost, sometimes when you’re not even looking for it.
To Be of Use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
- Marge Piercy
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” ~ Albert Einstein
This quote came from today’s Funds for Writers newsletter. This org. helps writers find grants and gives weekly inspiration via their newsletter.
– Albert Einstein
-updated- After my last Alice in Wonderland post, a friend of mine said she wasn’t exactly sure what was meant by “muchness.” Not familiar with Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland stories nor Tim Burton’s film, she thought she got it but she wasn’t entirely sure. Although there’s something perfectly nice about leaving it undefined, I wondered, if I had to define it, how would I?
It seems akin to me to a question writers are encouraged to answer when writing: is your own voice coming through? And what is that voice? Books and articles abound for writers on the topic of “finding your voice.” (And maybe, it’s like finding your Muchness.)
At times while writing my book, The B-girl Guide: In The Context Of Now – How to Live Your Life in Earth, Animal & People-Friendly Ways, I’d wish I could write in the cheery tone in which I wrote the initial B-girl diary entries (B-girl.com had diary entries before there were blogs). If I really think about it, however, those posts were cheery, yes, but also very stream of consciousness and wouldn’t necessarily represent who I am now anyway.
I could tell you my adventures -beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly; “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
All the chapters are written; they are just awaiting the hiring of an editor (that update’s forthcoming) and, well, maybe, a little more Muchness. I’m certain I’m almost there: my vision is for the final result to be informative yet combine a sense of whimsy with ways of taking action and living authentically.
So, in giving the matter some thought, how to define “Muchness,” very quickly, a tumble of words came to me which seemed to define the indefinable. (The French have the term je ne sais quoi.)
My definition of Muchness:
Sparkle. Sass. Feeling strong and whole within yourself. A little bit bold and ready to take on… well.. anything.
There’s a scene in Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” film where Alice sets out to rescue the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) after he’s been locked away by the Red Queen for protecting her (“he wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for me,” she tells her ally, Bayard the dog). The Hatter had already told Alice she’d “lost her muchness” but he obviously still very much believes in her (believing her muchness still exists; it’s just dormant). As she contemplates making her way to the castle across a large swamp in which the only route is leaping from one huge (dead) floating human head to another, to be navigated as if stepping stones, she ventures forward, and says, a bit defiantly, “Lost my Muchness, have I?” She then proceeds. I love that moment.
I suppose I’ve always been drawn to “Alice in Wonderland.” I used the “six impossible things” quote on B-girl materials over 10 years ago, and, as I reflected previously, I even won a contest for my costume as Alice growing up! And so, perhaps it is also a bit reassuring to recognize, that, whatever I might see in my present day as challenges, they do not include rescues involving mad dashes across human head-filled moats! I’d like to think tho’, if it were entirely necessary, I would do so.
A little something xtra: This picture is of my mother. She’s maybe in her ’20′s or ’30′s – it’s undated – in the midst of planning an event perhaps. Helen was an assistant fashion buyer at Butterick at Sixth Avenue and Spring in downtown Manhattan before she became a mom and then a teacher. I love this photo because it’s evident she so has her Muchness.
Photo #1: Sweetopia*
Updated March 5, 2011
“I can’t believe that!” said Alice.
“…one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
(This Lewis Carroll quote may be my favorite.)
Recently, I was reading an interview with actress Anne Hathaway in the NY Daily News. I came across a part in the interview in which she said, “There’s a great line in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ where the Hatter says to Alice, ‘You’ve lost your muchness‘. And I feel like I am the age where I’m more able to easily identify what my muchness is and be more fierce about protecting it.”
I stopped reading. I was not familiar with that line at all, and needed to find out more about it immediately. It has been a long time since I read the Lewis Carroll stories; the copy I have is beat up. I set about finding the books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (two stories comprise what we often just refer to as Alice in Wonderland).
With new copy in hand, I scour it diligently, relishing the opportunity to read the stories again. I see a reference to “muchness” but not that line. I go back to my old beaten up copy to see if it might be there. Nothing. Feeling like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole myself, at last, through online sleuthing, I realize that the line is only in the Tim Burton film which (I did not know and had not seen) is a newly written story. It picks up with Alice at an older age. (I also learned that screenwriter Linda Woolverton was not thought highly of in some quarters for tinkering with Carroll’s story.)
I then set about to watch the film on Netflix. The line Hathaway (who plays The White Queen) quoted appears in the scene in which The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), encountering Alice six years after they first met when she was 13, says,”You’re not the same as you were before. You were much more…muchier. You’ve lost your muchness.” What a perfect way to express something so seemingly hard to define!
Sometimes I feel that way. As if I have worn too many identities – publicist. aroma biz creator. activist. blogger. writer. blog designer. – to fit one person! Each one has been uniquely enriching but it can get a bit, uh, confusing. Then again, maybe the harder part is being so much more aware now of how troubled our world is – for people, places, animals, the ecosystem. Taking on issues and needing to be so logical so much of the time.
“It’s a terrible kind of memory that only works backwards.” – Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass
Growing up, I won a prize for best costume as Alice in Wonderland in our town’s Halloween parade. Somewhere a picture exists of me, elementary school age, standing, beaming, on the front brick steps of our white split level house; its red door visible behind me. Clearly, costumes were nowhere near as sophisticated as they are now. No matter, my makeshift Alice costume usurped whatever existed as my competition. My brown hair, made to replicate Alice’s blond mane was covered by what appears to be a mop-like wig; most likely comprised of thick strands of yellow – or was it white? – yarn. I remember my smile at this point more than my hair.
There is no doubt that I felt my muchness at that moment! – and of course have many times since. I think maybe that’s the point of it all – to be sure we are living up to our muchness potential.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” - Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I’m hoping to finish The B-girl Guide shortly (full progress update forthcoming!), it includes stories of my experiences in these different worlds, information on topics that I think are important to rethinking the way we live - in relation to people, places, the environment, animals and ourselves. Illustrated with images of the (to be updated) B-girl!
So, you see, I certainly need my muchness to complete it, don’t I?
How do we not lose our muchness in today’s world? Remain serious about things going on and yet retain a sense of the whimsical? Lewis Carroll purposefully sprinkled whimsy throughout the stories of Alice’s Adventures. Personally, I want to embrace the feeling that the world will change and that six impossible things are possible before breakfast.
- Hi. I'm Cathryn. Writer. blogger. publicist. activist. aromas. Based in New York City.
I'm also finishing - and self publishing - a book!
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- Explorations in Paris Without Leaving NYC: Discovering Paris in Color — Mai Oui!
- Christmas Eve: Finding the Propane
- Favorite Teas
- On Writing — Great Quotes from Anne Lamott: “You can’t Fill Up When You’re Holding Your Breath”
- Some Media Coverage Fall 2011
- NYC September 12th: In the midst of tragedy, a gentle, open feeling in the air
- NYC Street Poetry: Marge Piercy, “To Be of Use”
- Everybody is a genius
- Because You Can Never have Enough Alice in Wonderland – On Writing & “Muchness”
- Alice In Wonderland and Losing Your Muchness
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