Hemingway and Van Gogh

Two such towering figures.  Two very different men who left the world on their own accord, with words and thick paint remaining in their wake.

I read two books this week, “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain and “The Last Van Gogh” by Alyson Richman.  Both are works of fiction, based on historical fact.  Both broke my heart, even though it’s obvious that there would be no happy ending.  Well, not the ending a romantic like me would typically prefer.  But that’s not how life is, at least when your eyes are too glued to a hardback.

“The Paris Wife” tore at my being in many ways.  I certainly won’t compare myself to Hemingway, but I understood his naivety and spirit during these early stages in his career.  I understood his longing to be something greater and prolific.  Of course, I’ve yet to technically strive toward anything with that much intensity, but I know that what it takes to be substantial is in me.  And his first wife Hadley, comforts and encourages him along the way, so bravely and maybe foolishly, only to be tossed aside.   It was heartbreaking, maybe because the ending was written before the Hemingway’s could touch the Parisian sidewalk.  It was all there, waiting to end this way.

Hadley & Ernest Hemingway

Hadley & Ernest Hemingway

 

“The Last Van Gogh” is no less tragic, but left a similar feeling of longing. Continue reading

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Souls Carried by Inanimate Objects

Grandpop's WWII bracelet

Grandpop’s WWII bracelet

Connecting with the past is something that’s intrigued me since I can remember.  The idea of tangible objects being held by another person, in another time is overwhelmingly fascinating to me.  I used to think it was only the ancestry aspect, because I find so much joy in genealogy.  But it’s more than that.  For an old soul, being among old items, with or without a direct connection, allows the mind to wander and dream.

Not every old item leads me to a faraway daydream.  I don’t find old paint cans mesmerizing but as I stood two feet from Van Gogh’s Postman the other night, I envisioned him standing just in front of me.  I could almost see his left arm poised in mid air while he determined the next vibrant stroke to complete the subject’s whiskers.  I saw his right hand Continue reading

Old Soul Works for Free

I’ve started as a volunteer for a local Historical Society.  Mainly because I need the experience to advance myself in a direction I’d like to go.  I find it nearly impossible to get the experience in the history and genealogy fields without putting in the time for free.  I’m ok with that, particularly since I never did an internship in college and it seems that is the way to go these days.  I’m eager to learn and I’m hoping they see some sort of potential in me so I can eventually sign on as a regular fixture.

I tried to tell them I’m an old soul, so I had a lot of historical knowledge first hand already, but they said, well, they didn’t say anything.  No, I didn’t really say that to them, but I’ll bet a lot of old souls are drawn to that field simply because there is something familiar to reel them in.  Maybe it’s not obvious and maybe some of these people just love history, but I always wonder how stories of yesteryear fascinate some so much and others could really care less.

None of us are the same and thank God for that.  Although there are a few people I’d have liked to clone; if I were into that modern technology sort of thing.

I’m Back…365 Consecutive Days…Not This Year

It’s been a process, but I’m back.

We’ve travelled overseas, worked our tails off and I’m officially unemployed. This is all a good thing, but it has taken a toll on my time. Today is the official start of a new life and a happier Mae.  The weight has already been lifted, though it seems very surreal. Having left a stressful and unrewarding career behind, I’m on the hunt to do what makes me happy and somehow find a way for it to pay off in satisfaction and eventually to pay some bills. I’m lucky because I have an incredibly supportive husband who would rather see my smile than my paychecks, at least for a little while.  He’s giving me the chance to do good for others and for us, despite the sacrifices that may lie ahead.

The World Is Your Oyster by Bill Frymire

I have a lot of ideas and wonderful volunteer opportunity that I start at the end of this week.  One that I’m hoping leads me down the road to a career of history and ancestry, and maybe a few other options. I’ll be immersed in the smell of old books and side by side with brainy researchers. It’s the first step toward working toward something that has appealed to me since the fourth grade. Will this be my career or will it just lead me to something else?  Who knows, but if I didn’t take the leap, we’d never ever know. Life is full of chances and I’m about to take a lot of them.

Thanks for following me to my new address; I’m so lucky to have you along for the ride.

Tell me about some of the chances you’ve taken. Was there ever a chance that didn’t pay off or at least bring you some sort of opportunity or happiness that you may have never realized?

 

I Dream of Black & White; They Dreamed in Radio

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Tonight we watched “Midnight In Paris”. The movie arrived via Netflix and I wasn’t expecting to really like it, particularly since it’s a Woody Allen film. Not that there’s anything wrong with his collection of work but people either really love or adamantly despise his movies. I think this was my first, and if they are all like this, I may be a fan.

I felt like I knew the main character, Gil, as if he and I were of the same mindset. He dreamed of another time, the golden age of Paris in the 1920’s. He felt the romanticism of history and like an old soul, felt a pull toward nostalgia. You know I feel that way; not about that particular period, but about feeling a connection to another time. It’s purely an unrealistic fascination because I don’t dream of the lack of vaccinations or the uninvented advancements that accompany the chores of today’s everyday life; but there is a sense of simplicity and an appreciation for things as they used to be. He is treated like he’s crazy for his dreamlike longing and I can relate to that with certain people. Maybe their souls aren’t quite as old or they just lack he part of our brain that wanders.

Gil literally takes a ride into his dream time period and mingles with the likes of Hemingway, Dali and Picasso. He experiences quick friendships with that era’s most prominent and important creative sorts. Along the way he meets a fascinating woman and as he falls for her, she reveals that she longs for the turn of the century, and how dull life is during her existence. He comes to understand that his longing is not new, but that romantics have always longed for what is gone and what will never be again. It is obvious and likely that this is the case, but for someone like me who dreams of days I will never experience in a realistic sense, it is slightly sad. Dreamers don’t accept reality fully, because what would we dream about? I don’t want to dream of paying my bills or mowing the lawn. I want to have fantasy because it ultimately doesn’t matter if I have the right vaccinations in my dreams, as long as I fill whatever void I have with stories and distant time periods.

Things That Used To Be; City Style

When you look at the neighborhood around you, do you wonder what it used to be?

Did it used to be busy, or was it quieter? Is it safer than it was or a tad seedier? What kind of people roamed the road and what kind of wheels rolled down your street? Do your views today make you long for the past or yearn for the future?

Old Philadelphia, courtesy of thingamababy.com

We took a stroll around a pretty neglected area of Philadelphia over the weekend. We had no real destination. My pictures fail to capture the atmosphere unfortunately.  It’s something I’m learning to figure out as an amateur. I like to find the beauty in what “was”, and I like to dream about what used to inhabit the buildings and sidewalks that I walk.

When I see areas that are abandoned and half demolished, I wonder if the area is going through a transition to be rebuilt again or if the crumbling bricks are a true metaphor for the neighborhood. Time will tell.

I’m not foolish enough to think that the past was glamorous. Crime, corruption, drugs and heartlessness have always lurked in corners of every time period. There are still sights to be appreciated and customs that are appealing, particularly when we don’t know the pitfalls. The revolutionary buildings that I admire may not have seemed so beautiful with excrement being flung out the windows out into the alleys below.

There are times we can’t experience and life to be enjoyed today.  Generations will pass on, scenery will continue to change and traditions will be altered. That is how time works and it always will.

Past Lives: Who Were You Before?

This post could be the one that pushes me into either crazy territory or a relatable one.  I’m supposed to be truthful and share who I am in this blog, so I’ll get on with it.

Do you believe in past lives? Whether your religion abides by this belief or not, it might have crossed your mind.

I wasn’t raised to believe that we were reborn but there is something in me that leads me to believe that maybe I’ve been here on earth before. I don’t know who I was or where I was born. I don’t even know when I was here or how many times. I know that there are things I’ve been drawn to since I was a child, and these feelings drew me despite the fact that my family never led me there.

I grew up Irish/German Catholic, in America and in the 80’s. I have had a subconscious fear of someone stealing my shoes since I was a child and I’ve been drawn to 30’s and 40’s music even before my peers went through a rap and bad pop phase. I have however, since the time I began school, had a fascination with the Holocaust.  I’m not going to sit here and say this means anything, nor will I claim any actual connection to this time, but it’s a very odd feeling. I longed for Continue reading

I’m A Brick – Part Two

Philadelphia was built by innovators and blue collar immigrants. Though we’ve housed our fair share of wealthy folk, it has never been an upscale or rich city; rich in culture and history, yes, but not in money. Like other old East Coast cities, Philadelphia was built by people like my ancestors. They mixed the mortar, carried the bricks, polished the marble and bend the heated iron.

The city has beautiful areas that are captured of Philadelphia based movie and TV sets. It also has beautiful materials left in rundown neighborhoods that share marble steps amongst trash and crumbling concrete. It may not all be polished, but it’s ours.

To coincide with my last post, here is Philadelphia and its brick.

 

I’m A Brick!

If the walls in these shots could talk, they’d mimic the words of Ralph Wiggum.

For me, I think the way to appreciate beauty is to capture the good and the bad.  My eyes sway toward the gritty truth of the world around us, so I know I’m not meant to be a wedding photographer.  Though the Philadelphia tourism board would likely burn my pictures of trash, destruction and neglect, there are plenty of beautiful things that can be grabbed from the background.  It’s the truth of what a city is outside the paths that tourist take.  Today, I just share bricks.

Atlantic City: The Original Vegas

Atlantic City Boardwalk

Saturday was so beautiful in the Northeast. It was the perfect kind of day to spend in the garden, or divert the car towards Atlantic City.

So that’s what we did.

Eighty degrees, cloudless sky and a nice sea breeze. Add that to the smell of funnel cake, sunscreen and slurp down the experience with fresh lemonade, while strolling the boardwalk and recognizing street names you normally see on your Monopoly board.

Steel Pier, Atlantic City

Atlantic City is a diverse mix of people, but it has most everything that Vegas touts, except there’s an ocean and expansive boardwalk. No, Celine Dion isn’t playing Atlantic City every night and I’m ok with that, but there are shows to be seen. There are glitzy and glamorous nightclubs, casinos and hotels. The amusement rides may not be as sparkly and the exterior decor may be a little more worn, but there’s something to be said for the city by the sea.

I grew up being fascinated by films of ladies jumping their horses off diving boards next to Steel Pier and photos of the old timers who wore their Sunday best as they wandered the boards in the early 20th century. I’ve also watched a lot of Boardwalk Empire on HBO, and though I know its primarily fictional stories written for entertainment, I have no doubt that Prohibition brought waves of crime and corruption that still linger today. Feeling that way does take away from the nostalgia of flapper girls and their shiny cigarette cases and replaces it with heroin chic society types that rival fashion models of the 90’s.

Atlantic City is an accessible city. It is a little less sparkly but nice equivalent to a five hour plane right to Nevada from the East Coast. But just like Vegas, don’t wander too far off the “strip” in Atlantic City; unless you’re looking for some non-fiction CSI type experiences. Also, get some saltwater taffy; it’s so good and the remnants of it can be tasted for days since it’ll be stuck in your molars. That might be an exaggeration, but in all honesty, stop at James’.  If taffy isn’t your thing, drop by the Whiskey Tavern in the new Revel casino, order an Old Fashioned and slip into shiny 1925 subway tile heaven.

James’ Salt Water Taffy