Saturday, May 3, 2008

America of My Past and Present...

Just a quick note before I go to sleep. I'm in Elisabeth's room at Bruce & Buff's sanctuary home in Newton, Massacusetts.

Mom drove me to the airport yesterday as Dad had a bridge appointment w/ friends. I flew up by JetBlue non-stop from West Palm Beach. Amazingly, they have DirectTV on the plane on individualized tv screens on the seat in front of you. Vat a world. I watched the Champions League semi-final in real time b/n Liverpool and Chelski! Just as I turned it on, Fernando Torres scored a wicked goad fed by Ben-Ayun, the lone Israeli on the Reds team. Alas, they lost in extra time, but a brilliant game by both sides. Then, I settled in to watch the last half of that lovely documentary on John Lennon, "Imagine", which Nick showed us years ago when we gathered w/ a small group to watch movies in the living room w/ the sound through the Bose. It ended w/ John's life, just as we landed in Logan...

Then, I rented a convertible from Dollar and drove by the Mass Pike to Bruce's with the help of one of these new-fangled computer screens w/ maps on the dashboard. It appears that technology is taking over the reigns, so better lay back and enjoy the ride...

Just after I arrived, Bruce left by overnight Amtrak train to DC for some orthopod meetings. Not the most comfortable way to go, but he was in some meetings about a new orthopedic surgery center that may cost $4-5 million, so he couldn't take the last flight. He seems quite excited by this new private venture as his practice seems to grow by leaps and bounds!

Before going he showed me some old photo books of the Rose-Fisher-Lipschitz/Leslie
clans w/ tons of Rose & Ben-Henry, Mom and Roger. Plus amazing ones of Dad's
grandfather Isadore and grandmother Eva before, during and after their 50th wedding
anniversary. (50th!!!!! Amazing, no?) Watching them age through the photos over
decades, while knowing that they are already gone to the heavens a few decades back, was amazing. After hearing the childhood stories from M&D last week in Florida, just peering into the faces of these long-dead ancestors, great grandparents, all of them Russian or Poland-born celebrating their peaceful lives in America left me with dreams and thoughts a Chagall or Ben Shahn lithograph would have inspired...

Plus, there were two separate leather-bound books of condolences after the death of B-H and Max in '62 and '65 with lovely hand-written letters et al.

Naturally, I took some notes for the continuing sages of PRL and SDL Back in Time that I have been writing and editing since arriving in the States. There's nothing like a family chronicle as it feels so personal, alive and still beating...

Today I did a bit more on the books above, as well as a few detailed footnotes gleamed from Wikipedia on places and aspects of Jewish and early 20th C American life our own children may not know as well as we do. Then I headed by the $2 T train into Boston to go to the Fine Arts Museum where they have a special exhibit of El Greco and Velaquez from the 17th C. Spain.

What a great show, as you can imagine! Such transcendent, hypnotic visuals and portraits of suffering/reflective Christ, plus the holy apostles on fire w/ their Good News, and guest appearances by Mother Mary (her misunderstood immacuate conception) and St. Francis (with his single-pointed vow of poverty). Brilliant!

I took the little audio program, which was fun to hear stories of the paintings and guides to look more deeply into special paintings.

Then, I was offt to meet Jerry and Monique at the Harvard Coop to have a bowl of new england clam chowder (me) and teas (JS & MS). Being Cambridge, there were two Nepali women behind the counter, a Gurungni and Tamangni, who'd been in the US for ten years already. It was fun chatting w/ them in Nepal, of course, with the other folks looking on w/ surprise. Except, the Indian graduate student who was enjoying, then said, "I'm speak Malayalym -- but understand some Hindi." He was delighted to see me speak Nepali while Monique explained that she preferred Bengali, since she previously lived in Bangladesh. Culture clashes and connection in the most gentle and enjoyable of ways...

It was great, bien sur, to see J&S, again. They are so totally engaged in their growing work, proud of what they have achieved, yet clear that another two years at this remarkable pace, would be enough, thank-you.

Monique also liked my beard, so extra points for her, too! ;-)

Then, alas, i cudn't see Samantha Powers (Obama's foreign policy advisor who resigned two months ago b/c she called Hillary 'a monster' in a tv interview)
present her new book in the Harvard Coop about Sergio Viera de Mello (the head of the UN in Iraq who was killed in the bombing of the UN in Baghdad).

But when I walked outside, in the heart of Harvard Square, there 50 Tibetans protesting the Chinese crackdown on Tibet. There was a mini-UN of only Tibetan
flags in a full circle on the side of the square. Go Tibet!!!!!

I was going to meet Jeff Janer and Dave Danzig, two friends from high school who i saw when i was here in October. Jeff is a venture capitalist, while Zig is a psychologist working with individual patients. I know Dave Ellenberg b/c he met Jeff when they went to Brown together while Scott and I were at Amherst. We united over games of frisbee and frisbee golf on each other's campuses. (Very high level academic intellectual endeavor, as you can see...)

We had dinner at an Irish pub with martinis and a pastrami sandwich. What a combination! But it was great to see them both and catch up on each other's
stories, work, insights and joys. Good gestalt and sctuff for friends to do -- especially friends who have seen each other more in the last six months than the previous twenty years...

Now home on Liz' Imac computer to say hello and good-night.

Such are these impressions of America, reuniting w/ my own past while stepping into time present. Both, I may say, are very good, indeed...

Far from the maddening crowd nearby...

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