Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What was in that candle's light?

Water from Your Spring

What was in that candle's light
that opened and consumed me so quickly?

Come back my friend! The form of our love
is not a created form.

Nothing can help me but that beauty.
There was a dawn I remember

when my soul heard something
from your soul. I drank water

from your spring and felt
the current take me.

from The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

The passion quotient

Is passion really another unquantifiable vapor that everyone wants? A dear pal emailed me pondering this very question. But he arrived at a stellar conclusion:

"... I think that the "passion" most people are looking for is the interest and desire to commit to a person and a relationship. It's the same continued fascination that keeps people driven in a career or a hobby, but instead of being directed towards a project, we want that drive, fascination, inspiration and commitment to be directed at our person."

I followed his train of thought, and I like the station it landed at. It takes something to keep a spark sparky between two people. I envy those for whom the flame always burns intensely. David Deida would suggest that a polarity of the feminine and masculine essences must always be at play to keep this dynamic fire alive.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Paris & bikinis

She strolled along the neighborhood path under a promising late summer sky, morning coffee in hand, and said, "It really sounds like you don't want to be married."

"Yeah, pretty much." I explained: "I mean, I got a student loan to pay a mortgage, not take 3 trips to Europe, ya know? I'm only 28..."

The early sounds of the day filled a brief pause when she mused, "Yes, I see it. I'm seeing this. You're too young to be married. At your age, you should be wearing bikinis in Mexico and gallivanting around Paris - not married."

Something about hearing that made me feel infinitely grand. I laughed and thought about what might lie ahead. "Paris and Bikinis it is..."

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My apologies, and that smug look on my face

Ogden Nash wrote:

To keep your marriage brimming,
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Another day at the office

Written by Nicole Musmanno

“Marriage is hard. Seriously.” This is what people say.


I missed that part between the Disney movies and the English gardens. Know it now. Missed it then.

My father actually once sat across from then boyfriend, now husband, not even engaged at time, and over breakfast informed us that, “The hardest job I have is not the one I go to every day, but the one I come home to every night.”

What is less mentioned is that marriage becomes comfortable. One or both becomes comfortable and if not comfortable then one or both becomes aloof. There is schedule to marriage. And if that schedule is followed then marriage is not really that hard. It is a routine.

The trouble only occurs when someone in the marriage suddenly decides they do not like the schedule anymore. They want to eat dinner 6 instead of 5. They want to have sex in the living room not the master bedroom. They want to be naked outside of the shower. All this bucks the schedule.

Then what?

Marriage becomes hard. Marriage becomes work because someone decides that the schedule no longer works for them. Then the question arises, do you still want the job? Once you see the job description has changed, do you want the job? Do you want to work with the same person, the same pay with no certainty of bonuses? Is the work load worth it?

The best part is it could have all been avoided if both involved had listened in advance and realized that marriage is a hard job. A job that left unattended, with paper piling up on the desk, might one day need two people to take on the back flow. Or, left unattended or only partially cared for, the lights will go out in the office and the job terminated. Done.

No wonder English gardens and Disney exist: for those of us who cannot face the work load and need to escape even if just for the fantasy of a different job.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I've learned

Written by Nicole Musmanno

What I have learned: I have learned that I need passion in my life. I have learned that my parents have affected my choice on marriage. I have learned they might have been wrong.

Just like they were wrong about college out of high school, that I gave up on a horse too quickly that soon after broke my mother’s neck, and that I would regret my dog. My dog is the least of my regrets as it turns out.

What I regret is that I married a perfectly wonderful man who looks perfect on paper. He is responsible. He has an excellent work ethic. He has a great job and a promising future. He is kind. He loves dogs. He loves me.

I needed passion. I told my brain while it screamed, “no” when he proposed, that I would be fine. That I could not hurt him and actually (verbally) say “no”. That this was what I had been pushing for only to learn that indeed I should be careful what I wish for, that five years of dating does not a reason to marry make. I think maybe I gave up or just gave in.

I wanted to be married. To be someone’s forever. I had that romantic view since I read my first Jane Austin or probably earlier, maybe it was Disney’s fault or musical theatre. Point is: somewhere along the line I created an image of love eternal. Though I know marriage is work. I watched and still watch my parents work at marriage. Maybe I am a product of my generation, but I work at everything else, I am not certain I have the energy or time to work at love and marriage. But would I have the energy if I felt it were worth it?

The horse gets his supplements, the dog gets her run, my client’s get their contracts filled, and my deadlines are met. So it goes without saying that I would work at the marriage if I had to, if I saw an ends to a means. But isn’t that the end, love eternal? Or is that a fairytale? And the truth is people do live together forever, love each other forever, grow comfortable forever. They never ask what if and find the answer.

What if I want to learn the answer? Does that warrant the hurt of another? I don’t know. I have not learned that yet. I fear I might be too afraid to gain an education. So have I learned what matters?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Effulgence, or where the sun does shine

From JUNO:

Juno MacGuff: I'm losing my faith in humanity.

Mac MacGuff: Think you can narrow it down for me?

Juno MacGuff: I guess I wonder sometimes if people ever stay together for good.

Mac MacGuff: You mean like couples?

Juno MacGuff: Yeah, like people in love. [...] I just need to know if it's possible for two people to stay happy together forever, or at least for a few years.

Mac MacGuff: It's not easy, that's for sure. Now, I may not have the best track record in the world, but I have been with your stepmother for 10 years now and I'm proud to say that we're very happy.

[Juno nods]

Mac MacGuff: In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On the Richter scale of love

If you were to rate your current relationship on a scale of one to 10, where would you find your self? Where would your partner be?

Consider it your love number: At the low end, one means looking forward to divorce. 10 likens itself to the strong, affirmative desire and intention and excitement (think of the line Mr. Darcy echoed in the best love quote ever: "...I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.").

It it difficult to sustain a relationship if there is greater than 2 points difference between each partner's perceived love ranking.

Likewise, if both constituents are sitting mid-range (4-5-6) in mediocrity and ho-hum-ness, they can settle in that rut until the gaps between love numbers increases unsettling, thus tipping the scales to something either more fulfilling and alive or resulting in a breaking free or dissolving of whatever weak bonding mechanism keep things together.

Perhaps we've seen the mediocrity more than the matching high numerical digits from lovers. I think of my parents and grandparents (and other couples from that generation) who stuck it out for the sake of sticking it out, because that's what you did even when your spirit was writhing and withering.

I don't think it's unreal to expect a correlating elevated degree of desire, aliveness and intent (and thusly, passion) between lovers in a committed partnership. If that's not there, what keeps a relationship together in low-gear? If you're not firing on all cylinders, are you doing anyone (self included) any favors?

Snow kissed

He had just dropped me back off at my parent's house. And we were standing outside in the chill of the late night air continuing our conversation from the car which had flowed just as easily and comfortably as the rest of the evening's dialogue of many topics.

We were both home from our respective universities for the holiday break and came into contact pre-Christmas when we both hijacked our respective sister's instant messenger chat. We all went to the same high school. He graduated a year after me. Our younger siblings had been best friends since second grade.

He had always been fabulous in a super cool way -- friendly, approachable, kind -- and we always had much to talk about, not that we had really talked much over the years. So, over IM we decided to go out for late evening chai, board games and people watching at the notorious local coffee house by campus. We closed the place down.

The winter air was nippy, and the fresh loose snow flakes sparkled in the light of the porch lamp. As the talk wound down as if to call it a night and bid adieu, his hands played in his pockets as he looked down at the patterns his shoes were making in the snow. "It was lovely spending time with you," he said.

"I had fun too! Let's do it again before vaca ends." I replied, looking forward to it already.

"Come here and give me a hug."

I stepped towards him and embraced the wool peacoat that covered his tall thin frame.

"Good night, Patrick." I smiled as I turned towards the house.

"Good night, Miss Ali." he lingered briefly. "Wait..., one more thing..." he said as he turned me around and pulled me close.

"Wha..." I uttered, bemused by the moment's flurry.

"I want to kiss you."

I had no time to worry about the syntax of things before his sure hand lifted my chin to his (mighty fine) warm lips. The perfect blend of suave and desire set an electrical storm through my core for days. I could not have imagined a better first kiss.

Nothing has topped it since.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

feeling is first

since feeling is first
by e.e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a far better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don't cry
--the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for eachother: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis

Leave me breathless

Nothing wells me up and takes my breath away more than this quintessential line echoed best by Mr. Darcy in the cinematic depiction of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:

"...I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on."

In each other all along

'The minute I heard my first love story
I started looking for you, not knowing
how blind that was.

Lovers don't finally meet somewhere.
They're in each other all along.

- Rumi

the deepest secret nobody knows

i carry your heart with me
by e. e. cummings

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Saturday, August 2, 2008


os·cu·late –verb (used without object)
1. to come into close contact or union.
2. Geometry. (of a curve) to touch another curve or another part of the same curve so as to have the same tangent and curvature at the point of contact.
–verb (used with object)
3. to bring into close contact or union.
4. Geometry. (of a curve) to touch (another curve or another part of the same curve) in osculation.
5. to kiss.


What I thought you said

A fan of the hilarity of mis-heard lyricism, in which the meaning of songs goes awry, I often find myself mis-hearing comments, especially on road trips. On the wide open spaces of the open road "Did you see this lane is closed?" sounds like "Did you see that lady's clothes?" Where a comment about "getting enough air" morphs into "get an end of the affair." Where something entirely unrelated to food is received as "Did you say you had pumpkin bread?!"

Due to crappy reception, this also happens in dialogue on my cell phone. Case in point: a conversation with a my incredibly loving and fearlessly interrogative friend, Bethy, with whom hard questions are thrown out like cliches and no questions are taboo. I tell her everything.

She called to segue into the current state of my union via a question about basil.

"He left yesterday morning. and I'm kind of in this limbo space. We're still monogamous, but I feel like I'm just waiting... Obviously my homework is on hold..." I said.

"Did you have good-bye sex?" she asked.

"I'm sorry. You cut out. Say it again?" I asked for a repeat.

"Did you have good-bye sex?"

"What?! Could I have good bi sex? In the meantime you mean? Oh, well... I'm not sure that was in the contract or that I'd even be interested..." (Oh my terror. Did she really say that. That was so left-field. I was so confused. Wtf.)

"No no no! [laughs] good-bye sex -- you know, like hello, good-bye, I'm leaving. Sometimes it can be good because you're both so vulnerable..." she clarified.

"[Copious amounts of laughter and audible relief] Oh, god no. None of that. And none of what I thought you said, either."

Fight & flight

"Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight," said Phyllis Diller.

In the one real intimate relationship I've had thus far, we've never really been the fighting type. We've been calm and cool and level-headed towards each discussion of difference when it would arise. It's my method of choice. The first time we did have a all-out fight, it was instigated by underlying pre-marital stress and someone's desire for me to change my name. It was almost a one-sided fight, as I found myself confronted with a very upset person fighting on what seemed to be the foothold of principle only.

Besides being hurt, alienated and almost dumbfounded that we were actually having an explosive blow up about what I have dubbed "the name change debacle," I found myself at a loss for feeling towards his loss for words as to why this really meant so much to him that he had to pursue it in such a nasty way. To me, his arguments and reasons didn't hold up to why this was suddenly such a make it or break it matter. I found it terribly insensitive and just wanted to leave. I wanted a divorce before we were even married.

Later, I mentioned this first fight scenario to my therapist, as well as my lack of trust for the statements that had then been issued before me. "Feelings don't come from the intellect," he replied. "Feelings can't be rationalized. But it is strange that it meant so much to him then."

I mentioned then that just recently the he that had unleashed the intensity of fight admitted to me that he did it to see what would happen if we actually had a fight.

WTF? Is fighting really necessary in any relationship? Why would anyone want to be in such a volatile space?

When I think of the times when my friends report that "they had another big fight" with their significant other, that never feels right to me. I again asked my therapist for his thoughts on the necessity of fighting, and he agreed that it is superfluous. "Fighting only creates hurt," he said.

Indeed it does. And it sure as hell didn't make me want to change my name, either.

Arguments are won intellectually, not love.
The Universe

PS. Love is won, with a dash of trust, a smidge of fear, and a pinch of letting go.


"Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken." - Isabel Allende