Archive | Essays

In the Storm She Shone

The night before Tuesday’s blizzard, I emerged from a critics’ screening into midtown Manhattan. The sky was heavy and violet; the city, already abandoned. The only other people on the street were hurrying along with big bags of laundry and groceries–everything they needed to lay in for the storm. But the film I’d just seen had been much better than I’d anticipated, and I felt the happiness that good work, natural or human-made, has inspired in me since I was a small child; it’s hard to be despondent when beauty in all forms gladdens you this way.

In that burst of cheer I decided to walk rather than surrender to the weirdness of east 30s public transportation. I bundled up more seriously—double-wrapped my scarf, donned the velvet gloves my mother had sent for Christmas, and took off, knowing it might the last time in a while I’d walk so easily on NYC sidewalks. The air was so cold I could hear little ice crystals forming on my lungs when I breathed; this felt cleansing rather than unsettling. I walked faster, not to hasten my return home so much as to visit with all of the world at once. Continue Reading →

Sitting Pretty with Venus Retrograde

Venus retrograde starts tomorrow and we are already feeling its effects. Unlike Mercury, Venus only retrogrades every 18 months, and it lasts six weeks when it does. Venus is not only the planet of love but the planet of beauty. It governs sweetheart Pisces, whose sign we are under anyway, and is profoundly creative. When this planet goes retrograde, it does not mean things associated with this sign go awry. It means they go under the microscope.

No big aesthetic or romantic moves are advised until mid-April. Marriages, engagements, cohabitation arrangements, and trysts beginning during this aspect have shaky long-term prospects, and major haircuts, clothing and home decoration purchases usually prove a disaster. (Yellow pointy boots: what was I thinking?) But Venus retrograde is a grand time to revisit long-simmering creative projects and to clear the air when it comes to matters of the heart. Exes resurface, less to reignite love affairs than to settle old scores and mend broken hearts. Any fissures in existing relationships–not just romances but intimate connections of all sorts–also come up to be mended. Significant breakthroughs in your professional practices, especially those of an artistic nature, are on the horizon, as well as the release of toxic emotional patterns. This particular V.R. begins in Aries and ends in Pisces in direct conjunction with Chiron, the wounded healer.* Aries is generally regarded as the child of the zodiac, the most boundless and self-referential energy, and Pisces is our resident old-soul, a Great Mother portal that’s as invested in kairos as in daily life. Thus we will begin by examining our relationship to ourselves and our creative practices—how we betray ourselves, how we nurture ourselves–and end by addressing our deepest wounds with others as well as our connection to the divine feminine. Bottom line: This will be a deep-feeling early spring, with passion serving as a teacher rather than a playmate. Only the softest fabrics, the sweetest scents, and the gentlest songs will do, and the palest pink is the right color to keep close.

*It’s no coincidence that Chiron is the protagonist’s name in surprise Oscar winner Moonlight. Our whole culture is undergoing a seismic shift, and though it is painful as hell, the synchronicities are awesome to behold.

A Mary for Our Time

It’s not just that I loved Mary Tyler Moore. It’s that I needed her, especially when I was a confused little person growing up in the 1970s with no desire to be a housewife and very few models of women working in TV, which already was what I wanted to do. There were the beleaguered mothers in my neighborhood and the office secretaries perpetually bemoaning their single-girl status with a thousand unsmiling war stories, and then there was MTM on her eponymous show, living in a cute-as-pie pied-à-terre with no husband telling her to make dinner and no apparent regrets. Mary had the greatest best friend in America–who wouldn’t want to live downstairs from wise-cracking, warm-hearted Rhoda?—and Mary loved everyone she could, including her gruff boss (oh, Mr. Graaaant!) and simpering coworkers. She was gorgeous and hilarious and idiosyncratic and sharp, a vision in pantsuits and clever retorts and triple-take stammers and and just the best, best legs. She organized her medicine cabinet alphabetically and served cognac and coffee and didn’t pretend to be dumber than she was, even if she did suffer too many fools. (Even at age 6 I felt this strongly.) She was made for TV–movies never quite captured the scope of her down-to-earth elegance—but she also made over TV. Through Mary, we all got used to women who lived alone joyously–ones who presided over a newsroom unapologetically, who knew how to be good friends with women and men, who Long Tall Sallied everywhere with compassion, confidence, and clarity. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy