Dita Parker

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No ordinary morning

Temperature: a foggy 7/45 degrees

Eating: just had breakfast, thanks

Drinking: with coffee, yes

Watching: the kids head off to school

Listening: to Ceremonials by Florence and the Machine

Reading: the contract for my new book super-secret-writing-related-to-be-revealed-soon project

Writing: a condensed synopsis (not a pleonasm, I really do have to cut the word count!)

Feeling: good vibrations

Monday, April 23, 2012

Once upon a time in Al-Àndalus

The dragon is about to devour the princess. Enter St. George, who slays the dragon. From the beast's spilled blood a rose bush rises, prompting our knight in shining armor to pluck the most beautiful stem and present it to the princess.

Patronages of St. George include various cities, counties, countries, crafts, clubs and causes around the world. In England, St. George's Day is also Shakespeare Day. In world literature, this 23rd of April is a symbolic date, the date of birth or death of several prominent authors, most notably Cervantes, Shakespeare and El Inca who, incidentally, all died in 1616.

Catalonia has celebrated St. George since 1436, and roses have been a part and a symbol of this day since medieval times. Inspired by the legend and in memory of Cervantes, in 1923 a business-savvy bookseller started the custom of a man offering a woman a rose in exchange for a book. In Barcelona, La Diada de Sant Jordi is a love fest, flower fest and book fair all in one. Hundreds of flower stands and bookstalls pop up for the occasion all over the city. It's a popular release day and a good day for promoting your work, so authors hold book readings in cafés and book stores. And of course there's a marathon reading of Don Quixote. But you don't have to have a date or a passion for reading to enjoy the day. You can go see the sardana dancers in the Plaça Sant Juane, the rose displays in the Palau do Generalitat, or enjoy the performances of street musicians on just about every plaça in town.

Poor inundated 23rd of April, in 1995 this Catalan tradition officially became a worldwide one. UNESCO chose the date to pay tribute to books and authors and created the World Book and Copyright Day. Since 2012 also marks the 80th anniversary of the Index Translationum (an international bibliography of translation), this year's theme is Books and Translation.

I'm all for encouraging people to read, promoting love, literacy and literature, furthering cultural exchange and progress, and good translations. So I'm sorry, the 23rd of April, but you will just have to grin and bear it. St. George, Shakespeare, Cervantes, books, authors, roses, the UN, literature, copyrights...I know it's a lot. But we're here to share your burden, and have some fun while at it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't fuck this up

Ilha Grande, Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Happy Earth Day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Have I got news for you

And as soon as everything is signed, sealed and delivered, I'll tell you more!

Guess the consonant, buy a vowel, today's word puzzle is... 

NE_  B_ _K

My belly cramps just thinking about it. Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Frickin'-Dah, sweetie darlings!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Love actually

I attended the best kind of wedding last weekend, one that looked exactly like the happy couple; it could not have been anyone else's ceremony. It was a large gathering of family and friends ages zero to eighty something, and not a stiff upper lip in the house, just a sweet day that had us sighing and crying and a fun night that saw us laughing and smiling.

I've known the groom for twenty years, watched him grow from where-shall-I go-what-shall-I-do to a seaman to the dashing sea captain he is today. (I kid you not, even the guys had to admit he looked awesome in that uniform.) I've known the bride for far less than that, but one thing is evident and makes me sooo happy for him: a fun-loving, life-loving, adventurous man has found someone who'll have no trouble keeping up with him. Alas, the last of the Mohicans has been tamed. Actually, his friends could not be happier that it is so.

It was good seeing people I don't see too often in person. As much as I appreciate modern technology (and a decent waterproof mascara) and all the ways in which I can keep up with friends all over the world (I wish I'd had that in my early youth) it will never ever be the same as hugging someone, sitting down for a chat, shimmying the night away on the dance floor, looking them in the eye and telling them I have truly missed you, kissing someone and wishing them every happiness.

All in all, it was a very life-affirming weekend, and the world being what it is, life being what it is, there are never enough of those. Then again, why should happiness be the anomaly and the rest the norm? Why is happiness so often followed by some measure of guilt, or fear? Survivor guilt, fear of loss. Because nothing lasts forever? What if you chose happiness, love, life, light? Because nothing lasts forever. Could you take it?

I saw the Carl Larsson exhibition at the Finnish National Gallery, a broad selection of definitive works and rare gems alike. I'd seen his art in books and posters and postcards, more often than not depictions of hearth and home, days in the sun, children at play, the great outdoors, flowers, self-portraits, his chin held high, a mischievous grin on his lips, light light light. What I didn't know was how much of a muse, how tremendous an enabler, how deeply loved and how talented in her own right his wife Karin was. I knew nothing about his humble beginnings or the defeats he encountered late in life and in his career. I hadn't seen the book illustrations he'd done, dark, detailed, morose even, so unlike anything he painted in his dear Sundborn, the images the mind's eye sees when you hear the name Carl Larsson.

I had no idea all that light came from a very dark place, a place his friend August Strindberg accused Larsson of turning his back on so he could paint travesties of life and living, an accusation that led to a falling out and left Larsson hurting. Because the man knew his shadows. They followed him all his life. They're all over his art, small details you catch on your tenth or twentieth viewing; when did that get there? But he made a conscious decision to stand with his face to the sun. The shadow still stood there. Of course he knew that, but turning his back on all that light would have left him with nothing but that shadow and that's where he would have disappeared, engulfed by things that were just as much a part of him as everything the sun had touched.

Why is it more honest, more true to life, more genuine to stand in the dark? Why is it naive, false, desperate, hopeless, to opt for the light? Because there are apt to be disappointments? Well, duh. I submit to you that it is much easier to give in to depressed thoughts, expect failure and fail yourself than to keep up hope, press on, and save yourself. So don't tell me to take off the rose-colored glasses. You first with the crap goggles.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'll remember you

When I take to the skies
When I start my car
When your sister calls
When I dance
When I draw

Even if I try to forget

When Sarah sings
When I'm oh so scared
When that hymn plays
When the sea rages
When the anger swells

Even when it hurts

When I smell a forest
When I touch a tree
When I'm cutting wood
When I start a fire
When I stare into one

How could I ever forget

When I pick up a book
When I'm touched by one
When I try to write
When I can't find the words
When I press on

Because everything I do reminds me of you