Monday, January 22, 2018

Light in My Mouth


This morning, as I meditated,
I had this sensation: light was resting on my tongue like a glowing lozenge.


I opened my mouth and chanted


(gone gone gone beyond utterly beyond)

The words lifted off my tongue
and as they did they pulled
light from
my
heart.

I love the way
occasionally
I
can
see
light
fill
me
up.

Starting the day this way
is
just
wonderful
oh and
also
I
drank
a
cup
of
coffee.



*gate gate is the mantra at the end of the heart sutra:

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Journey Into a Rose

Journey into a rose


The petals
have those
tender lips
curving, curling
like
a baby’s ear
begging, begging
come here, come here.

Look
Inside, the
layers of flower flesh
circle
around and around
deeper deeper
dizzying
to a point
that disappears.

The rose
is something
like
a book,
the petals
are
pages
that
draw
you
into
another
realm.

And then, an
added bonus,
there is that
heavenly smell
that defies
telling,
a living perfume.




Thursday, January 11, 2018

Pretend


All deep water.  All around me.
Me paddling.  Me scrambling
Me bubbling
Panicked and…
OOOHHHH
wowowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww
help MEEEEEE…
Please PLEASE!
I can
Hardly
I am slipping I am

knockingkickingthrashing grabbing
PLEASE!!
at sticks and rocks anything sticking out
over the dark water.

Thank you.
For pulling me up
Here.
On this shore.
Thank you
For the blanket.
Yes, right there, over my
Shoulders
Yes.  I am terribly
Yes, are they purple?
They feel
So cold.
Hold my hand?
Yes, please.
For just a moment.

And breathe.
With me.
What?
What did I see?
Below?
A beautiful green.
I think I saw
a jellyfish.
A turtle.
I can’t tell you for sure.  I don’t know.
Everything was so... frantic.  Fuzzy.

It is something like a dream I have,
Say, for example, I am walking
Where?
I don’t know where, but suddenly
There is an army of crickets in the grass.
Giant crickets.
Thick green
Such tall grass
I can hardly see the orange sun.
As soon as I start to tell you the dream
It seems so inane.
Why would I tell you?
Why would I take the time
Even to write it
Down .
When I am sitting
Here shaking
Clear drops
Dripping off of my cold naked
Body.

Having almost drowned,
I could
Yes, I could use a cup of warm tea.
And another blanket,
Yes.  I would love another blanket.
If you have one.
There, yes, around my legs,
Nice.
Thank you.
And
Please. One other thing:
Don’t leave me.
Just yet.
Just let me rest here,

Until I am ready
To continue.



Sunday, December 31, 2017

Consider these Cosmic Miracles

FACT:

“It takes one second for light to circle the Earth seven times.”


   

No matter how many times I read this one sentence, no matter how many times I whisper the words, it always stops me in my tracks. My mind comes up against the idea and it makes me smile. If that one wondrous statement is true, then so too are so many other "everyday miracles," a term I hear during Shabbat services on Saturday morning at my temple.

These cosmic miracles can be so comforting.

FACT:


Our sun is one of at least 100 billions stars, just in our galaxy – the Milky Way. And there are at least 100 billion other galaxies in the universe, each one with its own billion stars. There are more stars than grains of sand on all of the beaches on Earth.

FACT:

If you were traveling at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second, it would take you 100,000 years to cross just the Milky Way.

FACT:

If the sun were as tall as a six-foot tree, then Earth would be the size of an olive.

FACT:

The universe -- which is expanding -- is believed to be fourteen billion years old, at which time it was just one point in space.


When something happens that bothers me, or I’m just feeling kind of glum, I try to remember even one of these wildly amazing facts. Somehow it always helps me to get back on track. We spend our days immersed in our lives, and so often we get caught up thinking we are so important and that everything we do matters so much. But when you start to try to comprehend the gargantuan universe – everything takes on a whole new perspective. 

I am thinking about these facts today as I mull over the past year, and look forward to tomorrow.   It throws so much light and energy into the meditation.

FACT:

About 10,000 light-years away in a constellation called Aquila, there is a cloud of alcohol with a diameter 1,000 times larger than our solar system. The amount of ethyl alcohol present in the cloud is equivalent to 400 septillion (that’s 400, followed by 24 additional zeros) drinks.

Think about that tonight when you are toasting the New Year with a drink in your hand.

And one more

FACT:

A human body, or any object on the Earth, is never at rest. Even when you’re asleep in bed, you’re moving pretty fast. Our Milky Way Galaxy is rotating at 225 kilometers per second, and hurling through the cosmos at an estimated 305 kilometers per second. Add those figures together, and we are racing through space at about 530 kilometers, or 330 miles per second. So in one minute’s time, we’ve  traveled almost 20,000 kilometers, or more than 12,000 miles.

Consider the distance you are traveling as you read this sentence!

For more mind benders, check out these other sites:

Mental floss
Quora
NYTimes

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Art from the Heart

By Jeff Blum

My Aunt Rosel died at 89 in October.  My mother’s younger and only sister, she had shocked her parents by marrying someone “out of town.”  She lived almost her entire adult life in one house in Lynchburg, VA, where she became a civic, Democratic, education and Jewish community leader.  She also was an inveterate maker of crafts and preserver of family history; her widower, Uncle Elliot, was a business and political leader who also did delightful watercolors.


On the morning of her funeral, restless, I took an early walk through downtown Lynchburg.  Like most older industrial cities, Lynchburg has the usual mix of urban decay and a little bit of new, artsy growth – something Ro worked hard to create.  

Lynchburg is in a steep valley of the James River in the Piedmont of Central Virginia.  Looking downhill and away from the sun, I saw a huge cascade of mist coming off the river – first picture.  But then looking toward the rising sun, second picture, I saw a stunning view that immediately said to me, “there’s Ro, ascending to heaven [admittedly a highly unlikely prospect for a lifelong, practicing Jew].”  


Over the next month, I worked in my studio class with my teacher, Anne Chandra, 


Anne pushes me toward abstraction – she’s had me do works in the styles of Kandinsky and Rothko, or to take a piece of a famous painting, rotate it, and create something from that.   The Ro picture profits from some of the technical skills she’s helped me toward – like mixing wet colors on the canvass with my finger, and using zinc white to create translucence. 

The painting below is one of the first that I’ve been able to do in which the feeling, more than the scene, drove the concept.  It represents a breakthrough for me – it expresses me more than just about anything else I’ve done.  I’m thrilled that it will hang in her son Steve’s house.  

Jeff Blum, a lifelong community organizer, took up painting upon retiring from his last full-time job, seeking an activity to share with his mother.  Working mainly in acrylic and watercolor, he is currently focused on abstracted realism.  


Monday, November 27, 2017

Am I really going to Morocco?

I am. I am flying to London at 9 o'clock tonight and then taking a flight to Rabat, the capital, tomorrow morning.

I might not be able to blog until I get back on December 6th.



Why am I going to Morocco?

For fun of course. But the real reason is that i am an editor for a stunning new Pittsburgh-based magazine called

iGeneration Youth. (Be patient, the link can take a few seconds to load.)

The magazine, a print version of which was distributed this month to 50,000 teens, is the brainchild of a brilliant writer, editor and teacher named Lori Cullen, who is a friend and former student of mine. She pulled off this 64-page magazine with the help of a gang of energetic and very talented young people.

I will let Co-Editor-in-Chief Caroline Molin explain why a new magazine for young people is so crucially important:

"Every time I pick up an edition of Seventeen or a Teen Vogue, I see articles written by journalists working for large companies. It's clear when an article is written by someone who hasn't had the experience of being young in 2017. The teenagers I know are not thinking about the latest Kardashian news. Instead, they're going to protests and meetings to improve the state of the world. They're speaking out against gentrification and transphobia, voicing their opinions and striving to advance their education...What I want the most in a magazine is to hear the stories that I don't hear every day. I want youth magazines to represent the diversity of our generation."

Well, so, what Molin and her young colleagues have produced is chock full of diversity. The piece I edited was by a fabulous writer named Samikchya Rai, who was a Bhutanese refugee born in 1999 at Khuduabari, one of seven refugee camps in southern Nepal. Here is her opening:

"When the rays of the sun passed through the bamboo wall and hit my face, I knew the day had begun. A rooster crowed and -- so annoying -- wouldn't stop. Old people listened to morning religious music on a radio station, which lost its signal now and then."

So why Morocco?

iGeneration Youth -- their motto is "the future of storytelling" -- included a special section devoted to Islam; the section featured stories by students who either are Muslim, or who are visiting Muslim countries.

On Wednesday, Lori and I will be meeting with a Morocco-based cultural exchange organization in Rabat.
Called AMIDeast, the group is participating in the production of the new magazine.

So. Here we go. I will celebrate my 65th birthday in Morocco. I only know what I know about Rabat from the travel guide. I know only a few words, including "Atini noos noos" (that means "I would like half coffee, half milk." Hey what's important?)

I am hoping to ride a camel on my birthday.

Meanwhile, I hope you will check out iGeneration Youth. It's a fabulous endeavor.










Thursday, November 23, 2017

"Ooh, gross, he just put his hand up my skirt...That was Donald Trump"

WAIT UNTIL TOMORROW TO READ THIS POST! Keep Thanksgiving Day Dump free!

I thought I had heard it all. Somehow I thought I knew most all of the disgusting details of Donald Dump's outrageous behavior toward women.

But no.

In the video below, a woman named Kristin Anderson describes in graphic detail how Dump groped her in 2005. She didn't know him when he sat down next to her at a bar and stuck his hand up  her skirt and touched her vagina.

UNBELIEVABLE...or maybe not. It's all too believable!

So watch it.

(But don't do it today. I really mean it when I say you should focus on your family today, as I intend to do as soon as I finish this post!)

The video appears as part of The Washington Post's story on the "complete list" of Dump's abominable behavior towards women.

After you read it, share with as many people as you can. How can we possibly keep our mouths shut about this creep who absolutely does NOT belong in or deserve the dignity of the White House!!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Appalled by the Roy Moore Scandal? Read this...


An LA Times op ed suggests that certain evangelical circles encourage older men to "court" and marry teenage girls!

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-brightbill-roy-moore-evangelical-culture-20171110-story.html

Just when I think I have heard it all...

Thursday, November 09, 2017

BEHOLD BEHOLD WE ARE ALL THE DREAMERS!!!!!


Note: This piece appears in today's Huffington Post.


We are the dreamers
We are all the dreamers
We are all the women
the men the children
all of whom are dying to dream

BIG

all of whom are yearning to live
in freedom and
dignity.
No matter our races
Our sexes
colors and 
faces

We are the all the dreamers

BEHOLD US!

Let us who share the USA 
have OUR way
AS IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN!
See the STATUE IN THE HARBOR
THE LADY IN A SHADE OF GREEN
HOLDING FORTH THE LIGHT

My grandparents 100 years ago
came through that Harbor
that Ellis Isle
To make a new life for

MY GRANDFATHER 

Claude Rotondo,

was 16 years old when he came
to America

He never returned to ITALIA
He never saw his mother 
again in that tiny
town of Costello in a region called Aquila

(in the GRAN SASSO, gorgeous landscape!)

If my family came,
why not all those others
millions of families
who beg plead

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
LET US IN!
LET US STAY!

ALL THEY ARE ASKING FOR

these immigrants
is a way forward
a ray 
a path 
a carnival of hope

What happened to our melting pot? WHO THE FUCK ARE WE IF WE AREN'T WELCOMING THE NEWEST WAVE OF LIFE SEEKERS!

Why have we got a fucking racist misogynist homophobic jackass
(a snake of a con man) in the white house
Why would we let his despicable behavior rob us of
our SHARED DREAMS? 

SORRY FOR ALL THE SWEARING

ANYWAY,

BACK TO THE BOOK:

Give us the room
The food
(COCKROACHES?????)
The school
NENI: "I WANT TO BE A PHARMACIST YOU SHITHEAD DEAN!"
The job
JENDE CARRIED A BRIEFCASE AS HE DROVE CLARK EDWARDS around NYC
16 HOURS A DAY
(YES HE DROVE HIM TO VISIT HIS HOOKERS ONCE OR TWICE A WEEK!)

PLEASE

Take
a
Look
at
This
Magnificent
Book

READ IT READ IT READ IT YOU NEED TO READ IT

And see feel 
what it has done
what it can do
To you
Me
AND EVERYBODY who reads it

******

OH GOD, CINDY TOO WAS A DREAMER!!!

DESPERATELY SHE WANTED SHE SO DESPERATELY CRAVED THE LOVE SHE DID NOT HAVE

HER MOUTH CRUSTED WITH BLOOD AND SPITTLE SHE WAS A DESPERATE FOR THE LOVE OF

NONE

MOTHER SONS HUSBANDS FATHERS -- ANYONE?

YES, she TOO WAS a dreamer -- 

and how many of those millions of Americans who are today

OPIOID ADDICTS
lack what we all need so desperately:

A DREAM!!!!
A JOB!!!!
HOPE!!!!!

CINDY taught people how to eat well  to live better

Consider Vince, the sweet boy a lot like my son, finding his way his joy

His TRUTH HIS DREAM in India
HE SPOKE WORDS AND WORLDS ABOUT HIS BELOVED
MOTHER

*******
12:54 A.M
from somewhere comes the memory the momery
of such intense nausea I had for
NENI ACTUALLY HAD A PREGNANCY THAT WAS
SO MUCH FUCKING WORSE THAN MINE

Just one of the things I adore about this book is that it speaks
VOLUMES
In loud volumes
About WOMEN’S LOVES LIVES AND DREAMS
Separate from men!!!!!!
Jende for chrissake get a life
Going home is the stupidest idea
Well so I get it, he’s exhausted
BUT WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T HE LET NENI GO BACK TO WORK?
Why didn’t he choose to let the family use the cash
FOR CHRISSAKE NENI GOT THE MONEY ITS HER MONEY

THE ONLY THING I ABSOLUTELY HATE ABOUT THE BOOK
JENDE ARE YOU LISTENING, NENI SIT UP AND LISTEN:

I HATE THE ENDING, AND with my students, we will REWRITE IT

SWITCHING GEARS HERE HERE

HEAR THIS:

Do you realize that 15 Republican assholes got booted out in the Virginia elections
            ALL WERE REPUBLICAN WHITE MALES
And that they were replaced
BY WOMEN!!!!!!! YAHOOOOOOO!!!!!

This comes from MY OWN HEROINE RACHEL!

ON ANOTHER TOPIC SEXUAL HARRASSMENT

IT'S ALL OF A PIECE

HEAR: The “me too” campaign is 
HERE
HERE
HERE
WOMEN ARE COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK

TO SPIT OUT THEIR MISERY WITH SO MUCH MYSOGY!!!

HEAR THIS MEN, if you can't treat a women with respect

FUCK YOU TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH

And that includes you Jende! You know very well why I write this your SOB

I thought I loved just loved your character

until page 341, virtually at the end of this fabulous book

YOU TOOK OVER YOU TOOK OVER

So here to stay
is ME TOO!

Say whatever you can to support
Women’s voices women’s power women’s subjugation
SSHOUT IT OUT LOUD

YOU  ARE A MIGHTY ASSHOLE TRUMP!!!!!!

You are going to get your ass kicked and dumped into the Potomac

by ROBERT MUELLER

and/or the voters thank God we are almost 2018

*******
what about the book?
Oh. I love it so much I am going to teach a class using just that book
A class that will read the book and use it for all kinds of writing
Would you want to read this book
You would want to take this class?

email me at claudiajricci@gmail.com

You need to read it to decide
Whether you want to take it.

12:59 a.m.

YAWN


I am finally getting sleepy
BUT I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS INCREDIBLY HOPEFUL THOUGHT;
AFTER SEEING THE VOTERS TROMP THE TRUMPITES LAST NIGHT
I AM SINGING OUR DEMOCRACY!
BEHOLD THE DREAMERS
WE LIVE IN A SOCIETY WHERE WE CAN IF WE STAND UP AND COME
TOGETHER IN PEACE AND LOVE AND SUPPORT FOR
BROTHERS AND SISTERS
EVERYWHERE

And vote their asses out of office.
Women won across the country
And we will continue to
Win and win and win and win and win.


“Behold the Dreamers,” won the prestigious PEN/Faulkner fiction award for 2017, and was an Oprah book club pick this year. 


Monday, October 30, 2017

Hopelessly addicted...

I vowed this week I would leave the TV off.

That's because I was going absolutely crazy watching the White House crackpot try to lay the Russia probe in Hillary's lap.

Every time I saw dump appear on the screen I would shudder. I kept wanting something terribly violent to happen to him.

Similarly, every time Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared on the screen, I wanted either to:

1) strangle her, or

2) do something worse.

These impulses scared me.



I wrote a post last week, quoting NYTimes columnist David Brooks, who was advocating that we should try to love the fanatics that we want so much to hate.

For the record, I plan to reread that post as soon as I finish exploding here.

Back to the TV...I was doing pretty well keeping it off all weekend.

It was off until about 8:30 this morning when news of the Manafort arrest and indictment hit the NPR airwaves. It was then that my husband (who is trying to help me with my TV news addiction) walked into my study where I  had been meditating (earlier) and told me what was happening.

I felt like an alcoholic who had just been served a sparkling glass of chilled white wine.

In two seconds, I was back at it, glued to MSNBC (which btw had much better coverage than CNN).

I was marveling as lawyers, including MSNBC's own Ari Melber, laid out the charges against Manafort, dump's former campaign manager. He laundered $18 million, the indictment alleges. No wonder he didn't need a salary for the dump campaign.

But now, now I've shut the TV off again.

Until tonight.

Or...until something else happens.