Sunday, April 28, 2013

Best friends should never be unobserved

  • "Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;"

Friday, April 26, 2013

Neither death nor Alzheimer's can dim the passion of 29 years of love poems

Carleen Hamilton wrote the first poem on a napkin, sitting in a coffee shop in Bermuda, on their honeymoon, Oct. 29, 1974.
Oh, how I glowe
 and grew
to inconceivable brilliance in his loving fire.
And we were called Sun and Moon.
Complete life.
Virtually every workday for the next 29 years, she wrote a poem on a napkin and packed it in her husband's lunch.
And George Hamilton, director of the Fels Planetarium at the Franklin Institute, inspired by his new wife, her poetry, her devotion, and his own happiness, returned the kindness.
Every morning, perhaps when she was fixing his lunch, he wrote his own poem, and taped it to the mirror in the master bath.
Four children grew up in that Cherry Hill house, and knew, vaguely, that this was going on. But they never knew the extent.
Until the last few weeks.
George died in July at 87. Carleen, 77, suffers from advanced Alzheimer's and was moved into assisted living in September.
A son, Brandon Hamilton, was cleaning out the house, getting it ready for an estate sale April 10, when he found 16 binders of napkins, saved by his father, stored in boxes in the back of his workbench area.
Then he discovered three much thicker binders of poems, saved by his mother, stacked on a closet shelf in a spare bedroom.
"I find what they did so incredible," said Brandon, 45, who lives in Haddon Township. "Not only the discipline of doing it every day, but the closeness that they had in their marriage because of sharing your innermost feelings every day. That fire that you have on your honeymoon, they kept it alive."
In the summer of 1974, George Hamilton had just buried his first wife, who died from cancer after years of suffering. A mutual friend fixed him up with a recent divorcee, a mother of four, whose husband suffered mental illness.
George drove to Upstate New York, where Carleen lived, and the first thing he noticed, being an astronomer and director of a planetarium, was her medallion, depicting a moon.
He often wore one himself - of a radiant sun.
He said he simply had to borrow hers for a planetarium show, but would drive back the following weekend and return it - an excuse to see her again.
The date was Aug. 17, 1974, because in one poem he writes:
Time had a beginning, August 17 1974.
And with it I was born.
They fell deeply and passionately in love. By late September, according to their son, George told Carleen, "snows are coming, and these back roads will be impassable. I can come back in spring, or you can marry me now and move to Cherry Hill."
George was 47. Carleen was 37. They had no children together. But he adopted her four children. He had three of his own, who were grown, and whom Carleen embraced.
In their poetry, she was the moon, and he the sun. And so many expressions of their love focused on space and sky.
She wrote in 1974:
My moon stood wanting in his warmth
He took my darker side and fired it through the racing stars to hold me still.
She wrote mostly on white napkins, but occasionally on a green, yellow, or even pink one. His canvas alternated between lined paper - abundant, since she became a Cherry Hill teacher for 27 years - and stationery.
While each poem was dated, the authors rarely referenced daily events - other than weather, as in hers:
Snowfalls warm me.
Like in your arms,
they hold me safe.
Poems often were more universal and timeless.
Him, on 3/18/82:
All things considered,
it's a perfect life.
You're mine. I'm yours.
And we soar above the world.
Happy, hand in hand.
In love.
They tried their best never to miss a day.
On 3/16/82, he wrote:
No Time
Only Love.
I really love you.
You're beautiful.
Each of his has the piece of tape on the top.
Carleen wrote her last poem on Dec. 16, 2003, the day he retired.
Last day of work
First day of us
how sweet it is, planning dreams, planning us
I'll catch up in a month
freedom to be us.
The sun and the moon again.
She retired weeks later.
Life was good for a while.
"The last years were tough on him, taking care of Mom," Brandon said. "She would think he was a stranger. I'd have to talk her down. It was sad. I saw my dad get frustrated."
George had congestive heart failure and died at home of a heart attack.
"The Alzheimer's lessened the blow of his death," Brandon said. "Fairly quickly she forgot about George.
"What is interesting is how she'll react today."
Brandon brings a binder of napkins with him for the first time on a recent visit to his mother.
She lives in an Alzheimer's unit at Spring Hills Cherry Hill, in the old Sheraton Post Hotel on Route 70.
She was up and dressed, sitting on her bed.
He sat beside her. It was a sunny room.
He showed her the book.
"I didn't realize that you saved all these poems," he said. "Did you know that?"
She nodded slightly.
"You remember writing all these?"
He pointed to one.
"Do you remember writing this poem?"
He read one to her.
I'm proud you're my love.
I'm proud of the way you make me feel ...
When he finished, she said: "And that was me."
"Did you know you wrote these?" he asked.
"I used to brag about them all the time," Carleen said.
They put down the binder, and looked out the sunny window into the courtyard. Then Brandon walked with her slowly, holding her hand, down the hall to a group activity in a common area. He sat her down, kissed her. "I've got to go to work, Mom. I'll be back on Sunday."
Leaving, he was pleased.
"I could see that she got it, that she actually realized it," he said. "I could tell from her expression, and the way she smiled, that she definitely remembered."
Driving home, he was quiet for a bit, reflecting.
"The experience with the poems has brought me lots of closure," he said. "The last couple years, seeing them both deteriorate, was very painful.
"But now I've been able to see them as they were before, and not as they were at the end."

"The half man?"

“It was then that the ecstasy and the dream began, in which emotion was the matter of the universe, and matter but an adventitious intrusion likely to hinder you from spinning where you wanted to spin.”

“Under the trees several pheasants lay about, their rich plumage dabbled with blood; some were dead, some feebly twitching a wing, some staring up at the sky, some pulsating quickly, some contorted, some stretched out—all of them writhing in agony except the fortunate ones whose tortures had ended during the night by the inability of nature to bear more. With the impulse of a soul who could feel for kindred sufferers as much as for herself, Tess’s first thought was to put the still living birds out of their torture, and to this end with her own hands she broke the necks of as many as she could find, leaving them to lie where she had found them till the gamekeepers should come, as they probably would come, to look for them a second time. 'Poor darlings—to suppose myself the most miserable being on earth in the sight o’ such misery as yours!' she exclaimed, her tears running down as she killed the birds tenderly.” -Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D'urbervilles 

"Then I would bear it"

“Beauty lay not in the thing, but in what the thing symbolized.”

“Meanwhile, the trees were just as green as before; the birds sang and the sun shone as clearly now as ever. The familiar surroundings had not darkened because of her grief, nor sickened because of her pain.

She might have seen that what had bowed her head so profoundly -the thought of the world's concern at her situation- was found on an illusion. She was not an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations, to anybody but herself.” 

Tess of the D'urbervilles

“Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?"
"All like ours?"
"I don't know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted."
"Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?"
"A blighted one.” 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

James Joyce

Gentle lady, do not sing 
Sad songs about the end of love; 
Lay aside sadness and sing 
How love that passes is enough. 

Sing about the long deep sleep 
Of lovers that are dead, and how 
In the grave all love shall sleep: 
Love is aweary now.

Ancient lovers believed a kiss would literally unite their souls, because the spirit was said to be carried in one’s breath

Twilda Being Awesome (Again)

Ebertfest 2013 Dance Along from Ebertfest on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

When someone asks me about my love life.

Happy 449th birthday, William Shakespeare

"When he shall die, take him and cut him out into little stars and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun."


"Shakespeare uses a linguistic technique known as functional shift that involves, for example using a noun to serve as a verb. Researchers found that this technique allows the brain to understand what a word means before it understands the function of the word within a sentence. This process causes a sudden peak in brain activity and forces the brain to work backwards in order to fully understand what Shakespeare is trying to say...Experts believe that this heightened brain activity may be one of the reasons why Shakespeare's plays have such a dramatic impact on their readers.

This interdisciplinary work is good for brain science because it offers permanent scripts of the human mind working moment-to-moment. It is good for literature as it illustrates primary human thinking. Through the two disciplines, we may discover new insights into the very motions of the mind." -Prof. Neil Roberts

Saturday, April 13, 2013


"His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete."

“Give me my robe, put on my crown; I have Immortal longings in me”

“But she makes hungry
Where she most satisfies...” 
-Antony and Cleopatra

Antony and Cleopatra

“Music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.” 

"I'm pretty sure these are my costumes in heaven." -Nellie

"Believe me-- it's always like this."


Cauterize me in a searing kiss

"Your collarbone was hot snow to touch
Clavicle, clavichord
Gold keys falling through me cold
Rain rains down
Blue-black on earth
And sends riders, striders,
Bruising yellow
Blood in a stream
Back to the eastern horizon
Where I kissed you.
If you would wake with e
I'd know how to die.

Man under influence of sky."

-James Galvin


"I will take you
To a paradise of suffering."

Black vaults of day

"Immovable titans will choke in the black vaults of day. Are these poems fermented enough to stun the thunder? It must have been delirious, to consent to be earth." -Boris Pasternak

The X is someone else's star burning inside your mouth

Dear Miss Emily 
by James Galvin

I knew the end would be gone before I got there.
After all, all rainbows lie for a living.
And as you have insisted, repeatedly,
The difference between death and the Eternal
Present is about as far as one
Eyelash from the next, not wished upon.
Rainbows are not forms or stories, are they?
They are not doors ajar so much as far-
Flung situations without true beginnings
Or any ends--why bother--unless, as you
Suggest--repeatedly---there's nothing wrong
With this life, and we should all stop whining.
So I shift my focus now on how to end
A letter. In XOXOXO,
For example, Miss, which are the hugs
And which the kisses? Does anybody know?
I could argue either way: the O's
Are circles of embrace, the X is someone
Else's star burning inside your mouth;
Unless the O is a mouth that cannot speak,
Because, you know, it's busy.
X is the crucifixion all embraces
Are, here at the nowhere of the rainbow's end,
Where even light has failed its situation,
Slant the only life it ever had,
Where even the most gallant sunset can't
Hold back for more than a nonce the rain-laden
Eastern sky of night. It's clear. It's clear.
X's are both hugs and kisses, O's
Where stars that died gave out, gave up, gave in--
Where no one meant the promises they made.
Oh, and one more thing. I send my love
However long and far it takes--through light,
Through time, thorough all the faithlessness of men,

James Augustin Galvin,


His mark.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

"She was enamored of intensity and greatness."

“I suppose it was that in courtship everything is regarded as provisional and preliminary, and the smallest sample of virtue or accomplishment is taken to guarantee delightful stores which the broad leisure of marriage will reveal. But the door-sill of marriage once crossed, expectation is concentrated on the present. Having once embarked on your marital voyage, it is impossible not to be aware that you make no way and that the sea is not within sight—that, in fact, you are exploring an enclosed basin.” 

...the fact that false rape accusations are exceedingly rare, despite what media reports might suggest. Almost as rare are cases when rapists actually go to jail.

In preparation for an upcoming debate where I play the role of stakeholder at the FBI in favor of expanding a universal DNA database, a classmate of mine found this graph. Personally, I am not too keen on CODIS, given the rampant racism that pervades our courts and justice system, but if we must have one, all everyone must be included.

 Whatever your position is, statistics like this make a hard case for the inevitably heightened conviction rate and subsequent prevention of rape a nationwide database would provide.

Monday, April 8, 2013

One more step forward!

South Africans Tshepo Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole married this weekend in what's being called the first Zulu same-sex wedding. “The whole notion is to quash the idea that being gay is un-African,” said one of the grooms.

Though same-sex couples have had equal marriage rights in South Africa since 2006, there remains a great deal of opposition to these unions. One of the strongest voices against same-sex marriage has come from traditional leaders, who have argued that homosexuality is a western import to the country. In 2012, the National House of Traditional Leaders asked parliament to strike LGBTI rights protections from the constitution.
That's why the marriage this weekend of Tshepo Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole grabbed attention in South Africa. The two men married in a traditional Zulu ceremony in the town of Stranger.

Was Pablo Neruda assassinated?

ISLA NEGRA, Chile -- The body of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, dead nearly four decades, was exhumed on Monday after his former driver said the poet was poisoned under Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship.
Neruda, famed for his passionate love poems and staunch communist views, is presumed to have died from prostate cancer on Sept. 23, 1973.
But Manuel Araya, who was Neruda's chauffer during the ailing writer's last few months, says agents of the dictatorship took advantage of his illness to inject poison into his stomach while he was bedridden at the Santa Maria clinic in Santiago.
"We're hoping for a positive result because Neruda was assassinated. Pinochet made an error when he ordered Neruda be killed," said Araya. Results are expected in coming months.
Neruda was a supporter of socialist President Salvador Allende, who was toppled in a military coup on September 11, 1973, nearly two weeks before the poet's death at age 69. Around 3,000 people are thought to have been killed by the brutal 17-year-long dictatorship that ensued.
Neruda was buried in his coastal home of Isla Negra beside his third wife, Matilde Urrutia.
His remains will be brought to Santiago for analysis. Some samples could be sent to laboratories abroad.
Chilean judiciary via AFP - Getty Images
Coroner's office personnel and relatives of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda carry a coffin containing his remains after their exhumation in Isla Negra, 75 miles west of Santiago, on Monday.
Ricardo Eliecer Neftali Reyes Basoalto, better known by his pen name, was a larger-than-life fixture in Chile's literary and political scene.
While best known for his collection "Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair," published in 1924, Neruda was also an important political activist during a turbulent time in Chile.
He organized a ship to bring about 2,000 Spanish refugees fleeing the civil war there to Chile in 1939, campaigned for Allende and was ambassador to France during the socialist's presidency.
The Andean country's intelligentsia frequently congregated in Isla Negra, as well as in his Santiago home "La Chascona" -- so named for his then-mistress Urrutia's messy red hair -- and La Sebastiana, his ship-themed home in the port town of Valparaiso.
Democratically elected Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace as it was under attack by the military, experts confirmed last year, amid accusations he had been murdered during the coup.
Chilean courts are also investigating the death of ex-President Eduardo Frei Montalva, who is presumed to have died in 1982 of an infection after a hernia operation. Some say he was poisoned by Pinochet's agents.

Friday, April 5, 2013

“He had been alone in the world and empty for so long. But she filled him full, and so he believed everything that had been taken out of him might have been for a purpose. To clear space for something better.”

“She fit her head under his chin, and he could feel her weight settle into him. He held her tight and words spilled out of him without prior composition. And this time he made no effort to clamp them off. He told her about the first time he had looked on the back of her neck as she sat in the church pew. Of the feeling that had never let go of him since. He talked to her of the great waste of years between then and now. A long time gone. And it was pointless, he said, to think how those years could have been put to better use, for he could hardly have put them to worse. There was no recovering them now. You could grieve endlessly for the loss of time and the damage done therein. For the dead, and for your own lost self. But what the wisdom of the ages says is that we do well not to grieve on and on. And those old ones knew a thing or two and had some truth to tell, Inman said, for you can grieve your heart out and in the end you are still where you are. All your grief hasn't changed a thing. What you have lost will not be returned to you. It will always be lost. You're left with only your scars to mark the void. All you can choose to do is go on or not. But if you go on, it's knowing you carry your scars with you. Nevertheless, over all those wasted years, he had held in his mind the wish to kiss her on the back of her neck, and now he had done it. There was a redemption of some kind, he believed, in such complete fulfillment of a desire so long deferred.” -Charles Frazier

"No amount of fire could challenge the fairytale he had stored up in his heart."

Thursday, April 4, 2013

"We use the power of storytelling and the leverage of strategic partnerships to deliver a single message: educating girls in developing nations will change the world."

Oh, Eartha

"Piercing eyes with a vengence
Tell them to count to ten
They'd bribe me with their diamonds
My discarded men.
I'd like to dress up in sequins
And treat myself now and then
Perhaps I'll give a little favor
To one of my discarded men.


“We were strangers standing in line in Auschwitz, we all survived different paths of hell, and we met in Israel,” Mr. Sharezky said. “We stand here together now after 65 years. Do you realize the magnitude of the miracle?”

Why yes, I did just transcribe a voicemail from Laci that was said entirely in singsong:

Dear little pudding pop I really miss you. I am a person and I want to kiss you. I really want to tell you about my escapades. I really want to love you forever. I really really really love you. I really really really really love you. Call me back. Oh, call me back! Oh, I miss your little face and those cheeks and that little lips that quivers when it talks to me and sees me and that twinkle in your little eye.  Twinkle little eye! Call me. I love you. I miss you. I love you. I miss you. I love you. I love you! I miss you! Call me! Oh, I miss youuuuuu! Aaaahhhhh! 


Welp. This is freaking amazing. Simba FTW. “They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Wondimu said.

Kidnapped Ethiopian girl rescued by caring, protective lions

A 12-year-old girl kidnapped by a group of seven men in the Ethiopian city of Bita Genet was found several days after her abduction, safe under the watchful eyes of three lions. Not only were the lions guarding her, they allegedly chased off her captors.
The girl was reportedly abducted by the seven men with the idea that she would be forced into marrying one of the them. According to the United Nations, about 70 percent of the marriages taking place in Ethiopia are the result of similar kidnappings. And nearly 100 percent of those abduction-marriages are not thwarted by kindly wildlife.
While it is certainly within reason to consider this a miracle, a wildlife official did point out that the lions — who guarded the girl for about a half day — may have heard her crying and mistaken her for a cub. Interesting theory, but don’t lions know the difference between a Person and a Furry Thing that Looks Just Like Them? Although who wants to complain? It’s such a great story.
It’s so great, in fact, that Twitter is going nuts about it today even though this event took place and was reported on in 2005. Possibly because there’s been so much rape in the news lately, and it’s nice to hear a story with a happy ending. Or maybe we just like stories where animals behave in the noble, humane way we wish people would. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My new friend Kaira wrote a delightful blog about our meeting on a jetplane. You should follow her blog because she is hilarious and brilliant.


I love travelling, but I hate the “getting there”. I would just like to appear at my chosen destination and take advantage of every moment I have outside of my real life. Unfortunately, my travel-reality is that I have to spend as little money as possible and quite often that means taking the most time possible to get somewhere. This is true for flying as well as driving.
Somewhere over Newark, New Jersey
Somewhere over Newark, New Jersey
Friday’s flight to Boston was really a flight to Newark, New Jersey, a short layover and then another flight to Boston. Once I landed in Jersey I had a slight panic attack at the realization that I was two terminals away from where I needed to be to board my second flight and I had only 10 minutes to get there. If you’ve never flown into Newark (because why would you?), don’t. The terminals are as far away from each other as they could possibly be and you have to take a train to get from one to another. Oh, and you have to go through security. Again. I took my belt off more times on Friday than has ever been necessary in my sex life. Mostly because I don’t wear belts when I plan to get sexy. But still…

I made it to the terminal on the other side of the world in time to stand in the cattle call line to board. Once on the plane I breathed a sigh of relief while noting that it was bigger than the puddle jumper I had just gotten off and thought maybe I wouldn’t have to do breathing exercises for the whole flight to stave off nausea. Instead, what I got was to sit in intimate closeness next to a 30-something man in camouflage and his young son. The man, standing over me in the aisle, asked his son with hopeful eyes: “Bud, do you want the middle seat (in an excited and very much ‘you totally want this seat’ voice) or do you want to have to sit by the window?” The kid didn’t take the bait and the man dejectedly took the middle seat, cementing our thighs together and creating an extremely uncomfortable vibe.

I wasn’t overly bothered by the closeness because, that’s just what happens on a tiny plane when you have a giant bum. I’m used to it. What I wasn’t prepared to deal with was his obvious discomfort at the situation. It’s like he thought we’d have to get married as a result. So, noticing that the adorable lady in the row across the aisle was all by herself with two empty seats, I asked her if she’d mind getting the hell out of my way so I could get away from Duck Dynasty and his son. She didn’t mind at all.
Snuggle up to this
Snuggle up to this
I part rolled, part stumbled into the window seat in her row and made a comment about not wanting to press my thigh against the strange man while I thanked her. She understood. In fact, she understood everything I ever thought or said. We had (almost) all the same opinions on everything in life. She was me, if I was skinny, hot, well-dressed and going to Harvard. I’m not hating on her hotness. In fact, I’m grateful for it. Her hotness got her (and me by extension) free mini-bottles of wine and a hilarious rapport with the flight attendant. Sitting in the back row pays off, as long as you’re sitting next to someone the flight attendant would like to have sex with. And boy did Freddie ever.

We chatted away the entire flight and most definitely annoyed the back half of the plane. Although, they’re all better off for hearing our commentary on Lena Dunham’s failed (albeit well-intentioned) attempts at feminism and an in-depth look at The Hunger Games. We made snarky comments and laughed at each other’s snarky comments so neither of us felt like a jerk. Even though we were definitely being jerks.
I knew she was legit when she didn’t even make fun of me for going all the way to Boston to see New Kids on the Block.