Made by John

We were at Plato’s Diner having breakfast on a Sunday, when I sketched a dresser on a napkin. Something simple with clean lines, strong, well made, nothing fancy. A couple of months later, that dresser was in my bedroom.

My sketch didn’t give the dresser an overhang, but John insisted on it so that the entire top could simply lift off like a lid. If we ever had to move it, the weight could be lightened and the pieces would easily fit through doorways. He likes overhangs in general because they give houses and pieces of furniture expression, like eyebrows on a human face. It also functions as protection.

The planks across the front of the drawers were three long pieces, which he cut and placed so the grains lined up. The grooves on which the drawers move are also made of wood and waxed with Ivory soap. Because the dresser is unusually long and its center could cave in over the years, John installed a metal beam that runs diagonally across the bottom, as well as a fifth leg. It’s made of solid maple, chosen for its natural color and its hard surface which takes on a nice polish with wear and age.

My husband is not much of a poet, but when he makes something like this for me, my love for language can take the backseat.

The dresser.

The face.

Maple grains.

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Published in: on March 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm  Comments (18)  

The Serpent

I grew up Christian, so the serpent was considered the devil’s pet of choice, if not the devil himself.

That notion started to unravel when I learned in what esteem other cultures and religions held the snake. The ancient Aztecs of Central America worshiped it as a life force. The Australian Aborigines associated it with the creation of life. In India, important people were believed to come back as cobras. Greek mythology has given us our medical symbol of two snakes wrapped around a staff. The serpent symbolized feminine wisdom, healing, initiation, and renewal.

It had a pretty good reputation before Genesis.

The subversive nature of Christianity strongly appeals to me. The last will be first; the first will be last. The meek will inherit the earth. God in human form. Love your enemies. Its way of undermining the powers that be. The religion managed to take a despised symbol like the crucifix and transform it into something held dear and sacred. Consider how dramatically subversive it would be to turn the image of a noose or the electric chair into an icon worthy of worship.

I just wish it didn’t do the same inversion on the symbol of the serpent. The writers and editors of Genesis must have been aware of what it signified. Is it possible that they re-cast the serpent as the bad guy to smear the competition?

The Ouroboros ring designed and made by Tina Tang. I love this ring. I asked Tina, why the snake? She said that it was known as the protector of sacred spaces.

Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm  Comments (2)  

Star-Crossed Lovers

My friend, Tina Tang, is a big fan of opera. She took me to the MET to see Lucia di Lammermoor. The plot was simple and familiar enough: Boy and girl meet. They fall in love. Girl’s brother forces her to marry another. Girl kills groom. Girl goes mad and dies. Boy kills himself. The end. Lucia and Edgardo are what Shakespeare would call “a paire of starre-crost louers.”

As high an art as opera is, the experience was surprisingly visceral for me. The singing was not unlike human wailing, albeit beautified and controlled. It reminded me of the kind of lament that occasions chest-beating and clothe-rending and guttural wailing. Mere words did not suffice; music stepped in to lift us into the realm of heaven where star crossed lovers can meet.

Me in front of the Metropolitan Opera House.

Before act one.

Before act three.

Celebrity sighting: the man in the pink shirt and dark jacket is Mario Cantone. He played Charlotte’s wedding coordinator in Sex in the City.

Published in: on March 10, 2011 at 1:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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