Be Honest

What a loaded phrase.

What a practice. Can we, any of us, be truly honest with ourselves and with others?

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf

Lately, I have been trying this out: this idea of being myself. I now understand that who we are, or what is important to us, is shifting almost constantly and therefore, our expressions of such self will also shift and change. For most of my young life, I felt like I should portray myself in one way, and hide everything else. I think I learned this from my mother, and from growing up in an immigrant family where success means everything and feelings are swept under the rug, or into the corners of coat closets.

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I have some strange health problems, that probably started when I was sixteen. I inherited a strange genetic immunodeficiency disease, most likely from my father’s side, that is named gammaglobulinemia. It manifests in many ways, mostly in my predilection for infections and constant arthritic-like pain in my hands, wrists, and hips. During my senior year, I had to take a rest cure for almost six months, and spent my days watching movies and eating scrambled eggs, wondering what would happen. During that time, the illness expressed itself in its most intense form to date, but here and there, it pops up, as if to remind me of my own delicate nature. I forget, or shove away, my actual nature almost on a daily basis, as if putting forth a calm and strong and independent persona will chase away the inconsistencies, the weaknesses, the sadnesses, the things about myself that I am afraid of.

A few weeks ago, I chose to do something different. I chose to go to a good doctor and to talk to people about how I feel on a daily basis. It is a huge change for me: previous to this, only those closest to me knew about my feelings of being in my body. Very few people know that I experience chronic pain that limits the way my body moves and feels in space. I took a chance recently and spoke about it, and realized, just as a I realized last winter, when I shared my life story with close friends in Maine, that those who care about you don’t hate you when you express weakness, but rather, they see you as more human, more like them. Today I sat in the woodshop and talked about my friends with another friend and talked about how I have an autoimmune illness and that’s why I feel sensitive a lot and have been going to to doctor a lot since the fall. My friend sat there and asked me, “so…your bones hurt all the time?” And I explained it: how my wrists, hands and hips hurt constantly. He told me that it was strange that someone who works with her hands so much has so much pain, and I told him the truth, that activity is one of the only things that helps with it. He said, “well, I suppose you would have given up on it a long time ago if it was the other way around.” I smiled and said, “well, I wouldn’t have been able to give up on it.”

I supposed there are great risks in the opening of the heart. What happens if people lean into you too close and pierce it, sometimes not in an act of malicious vengeance but just peering too close-in? I spoke with a studio-mate the other day about divorce and its long-lasting implications, and about how I feel at peace with it all finally, as if it happened a long time ago, a time I can’t really fully identify with anymore. She told me that her divorce is still taking its toll, ten years later. So we agreed that all of us experience loss, grief, decisions and their implications, in different ways, and no way is wrong or right.

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I feel like being honest and opening my heart, perhaps for the first time, is a great form of risk-taking, but it conversely feels empowering and creates a sense of confidence that I don’t think I have felt before. It’s a feeling as if my old pair of LL Bean shearling boots are on my feet all the time and that my toes are safe and warm inside sheep-y softness. Of course, self-doubt remains. Questions are tossed in my mind that range from: will they like me? What is wrong with me? Why am I so odd?

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I suppose, here, at the age of 35, living in my beautiful little house in Austin, Texas, that I am finally identifying with my special-ness, something that I was afraid of because I grew up in such a way that taught me that expressing my nature was wrong. But now, in baby steps, I am seeing that, what other people have said to me for years, might be true. Maybe I am an okay person.

Two weeks ago, I was eating a goodbye breakfast at Magnolia with my friend Martha: she was moving to Houston in anticipation of moving to Washington, D.C. One day she will be an ambassador. Anyway, I ran into a friend who I hadn’t seen since I left Austin years ago. This friend and his wife and soon-to-be baby moved into my old house in Hyde Park after it worked out so that I could offer them that little place for the same rent that I had paid. They still live there, and he was very vocal at how thankful they are to have it. His daughter lives there, too. A tight fit in that small house with periwinkle kitchen walls and a veggie garden in the back.

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A Late Night in Pittsburgh: Compare/ Contrast

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Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the dark hours of my being.
My mind deepens into them.
There I can find, as in old letters,
the days of my life, already lived,
and held like a legend, and understood.”

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Assata Shakur 

I believe in living.
I believe in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
I believe in sunshine.
In windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs.
And i believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
And sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
I believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.
I believe in life.
And i have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight,
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted.
I have seen the kind become the blind
and the blind become the bind
in one easy lesson.
I have walked on cut glass.
I have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference.
I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy.
And, if i know any thing at all,
it’s that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all.
It can be broken down.
I believe in living.
I believe in birth.
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.
And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home
to port.

PhotoDiary – L’Automne

dan photos september 2013 549A natural reflecting pool, Route 1 near Milbridge, Maine

dan photos september 2013 544Marshland

Last week, I went out, with borrowed camera in hand, and took photos of the beauty that is autumn in Maine, autumn in our Acadia National Park, autumn on our island. I am so sad for people who are coming here to see our park and are being shut out or, in some cases, ticketed, for those of who live here can see it all the time. Maybe this glimpse will, at least, help for those of you who are not lucky enough to come and visit during leaf season. I, myself, have not seen anything like it in my lifetime. Once more, I stand ever thankful to be here, right now.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

L.M. Montgomery

dan photos september 2013 554One early fall morning at the Carriage House near Northeast Harbor

dan photos september 2013 553I noticed something miraculous and held in time…

dan photos september 2013 556Bricks, granite and leaves sharing similar hues!

dan photos september 2013 567These autumn colours are electric, especially when posited against grey roof tiles and trunks

dan photos september 2013 570dan photos september 2013 578dan photos september 2013 584A glimpse of the far side of Lower Hadlock Pond outside of Northeast Harbor does make you wonder how it all happens so quickly…

dan photos september 2013 586…you can see it again on Parkman Mountain in Acadia National Park.

dan photos september 2013 601The trees are beginning to rest…

dan photos september 2013 589…the grasses are sprouting rainbows from their bases…

dan photos september 2013 590…green is turning to gold.

dan photos september 2013 593Before it all fades to grey, it is time to bear witness to the rash of colours all around us!

dan photos september 2013 596dan photos september 2013 603dan photos september 2013 609Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”

George Eliot

Time

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Gone are my long, wistful days of winter-spring when all I had to do was work a little bit and play alot, traipsing through my tiny town in my black Bean boots, staring at the wind and the sun’s movements across the landscape.

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Now it is summer and there are flowers everywhere and the grass is green! The air is hot, sometimes, the sun shines bright, and the days fly by. Tomorrow is July 23rd? How is this true? It seems only yesterday it was the beginning of May.

A couple of hours ago, I walked out of the restaurant in which I work, into the darkness of almost-midnight, and felt a chill upon the air. Realizing, in that moment, that summer is halfway over, and that the chill is slowly returning,will be slowly returning as the light begins to leave us again, made me think of how strange it is to live in a place where the weather is so dynamic that as soon as you get used to one feeling in the air, it will change into something completely different.

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My days, at the moment, are spent working at one of three places. I feel so behind on making jewelry!! I feel like time is just slipping out of my hands: there is not enough of it! But oh well, such is the way of the summer. Yesterday I went to an amazing part at the 10 Spot Labs on Islesford and spent the afternoon with friends, sitting in the sunshine and under the shade of fir trees. I walked through a door that was floating in between two trees, I watched a girl skinny-dip in the ocean, I stared at strange fertility sculptures that decorated the hallway leading to a bathroom, I received a lovely compliment from the Compliment Booth, I laid down on a dock in the late evening and fell asleep, surrounded by friends.

Despite its pace, summer is a lovely time, isn’t it?

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Sunrise

Autumn Hydrangea, Northeast Harbor

In the coziness of bed, with cotton blankets, a down comforter and a wool throw layered over me as my head lay nestled amidst a pile of feather pillows, my eyes opened lazily and I looked out the window at the sunrise.

Angel Place, Sydney, Australia (this is causing barn daydreams)

Over the roofs of houses came pink and orange light and horizontal bands of white and blue clouds. The roofs themselves were white with the thick coating of frost that stretched from edge to peak. As I lay there, gazing out at the sunrise, the orange changed all to pink and the clouds became white and larger. I looked at a thermometer: 28 degrees outside while I remained warm and comforted in my bed. Slowly, as the sun came up, over the horizon of Frenchman’s Bay,  just down the street from me, the stretch of water that I have come to truly love and try to visit at least once a day, the light became golden and then white with the clarity of a new day. The sun stretched up up up and over the roofs of the houses, causing the frost to quickly evaporate and then, disappear. Now, when I look out that same window, I see the shadows of tree limbs reflected onto the white clapboards of houses as the early morning light peels and paints itself over the day.

Lichen and Moss, Northeast Harbor

A grey-blue light, this morning time. The trees are all but naked: all the leaves have fallen over the last couple of weeks. People keep telling me winter is coming, and I know it to be true. I feel it. Late at night, the sky is so clear and the stars so bright it’s as if you could reach up and grab them, or perhaps take flight and travel up so far and never be able to reach them. The night sky seems endless, and I suppose, it is.

Schoolhouse Ledge, Northeast Harbor

There is a golden tranquility at this time of day — the quiet time before anyone else is awake and on the street (not that there are many people even at the busy time). Right now, we are losing somewhere between three-and-a-half and five minutes of daylight each day as we approach the solstice on December 21st, as we approach my birthday. It is hard to imagine the darkness that I will experience on those few days, before we begin to march toward the light again.

Shelf Fungi, Schoolhouse Ledge, Northeast Harbor

I think I will start getting up much earlier, so as to experience this beauty and joy each day. As I look to the right, golden sunlight is pouring in the window of my apartment whose windowsill is decorated with elephants. There is a white pine shingled shed in the back garden, with a green door.

Elephants Marching at Sunrise