Monday, July 26, 2010

Past Life Musings

I was cleaning this past week, and came across a poem I wrote in June of 2007, after I returned from one of my trips to Poland. As I reread the poem, a flood of memories and emotions flooded over me, and I was awash with psychic sensations that I had managed to "tuck away" for so long. So I figured it was time to write a post about this particular episode, and its significance for me.

I've written here, a little bit, about my past life experiences with Hana, the little girl who died in the gas chamber at Maidanek.

In 2007, I was preparing to go to Poland again, for a conference on the Holocaust. I had been having some Hana dreams, which was to be expected, since I was going to be immersed in the history of the Holocaust on my trip.

What I was not prepared for, however, was a series of OTHER dreams, very vivid and haunting, that would connect me to a different past life.

In these dreams, I was a young man, with fair hair and a light beard, dressed in tights and a tunic, with a sword at my side. I/He was searching desperately in the depths of a castle - A building I knew with all of my heart, but also had never physically seen before. These vivid images came to me repeatedly in the two weeks before my trip.

Staunchly, I put them out of my mind (well, at least I ignored them), and prepared for my trip to the camps. I spent 2 weeks in Poland, in a very emotional, turbulent tour of four of the former Nazi killing centers. I felt Hana over and over again. I was overcome by these Holocaust images and memories.

And yet, it did not stop there. We returned to Krakow, and I had a free day before I was to return home. So, I spent it as a "normal" tourist, and decided to visit Wawel Castle.

THIS I felt I could handle. This was normal history, revolving around power and glory and land. So I walked to the castle from my hotel, and set out to tour it.

Before I even entered the gates, however, I realized that I knew this place. I knew it in a way that was beyond the realm of the everyday. Though I had never physically been to this castle before, and did not know its history, as I walked in the gates, I KNEW it.

Sensations began to overtake me. I heard voices and saw images. I was transported in time and became part of the earlier events.

I found my way to a bench in the courtyard, out of the way, so that I could record these sensations and try to make some sense of them. I made notes in my journal, and sat, still, listening and absorbing, for almost an hour.

Then I got up and walked around the castle. And I came to a tower, and a wall, that hit me like a ton of bricks (sorry, no pun intended there). And I knew that this was the place from my dreams, and suddenly I knew what had transpired in this place.

When I returned home, I penned the following poem, born out of the images I saw at the castle.

Castle Siege, 1267

Amidst chaos and confusion,
My soul struck out,
Penetrating the dark bowels of the tower.
Iron keys dangled from my hand,
their metallic taste
Lingering in my mouth
From the moment I clamped them there
To free my hands.
Darkness swallowed the hall,
The doorways blacker holes
in the sea of pitch.
A faint torchlight glowed
in the distance,
And I made my way
to its timid embers.
Voices bellowed,
Men, women, and children cried out,
Bodies rushed in panic on the levels above.
I smelled charred wood and stone,
felt the rush of heat
from the flames that licked
the roof of the cathedral,
sending its tendrils
even down here, below ground,
in all its fury.
The siege is on,
Today men will die in defending our honor,
and I must make my way to you,
My love,
to be reunited,
even if it be in death.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ringo Starr, Rants, and Raves.....

Last night we went to see Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band in Cleveland at the Nautica Pavilion.

The music was AWESOME.

Ringo just turned 70 years old this year. SEVENTY. On stage, he looked FORTY. He was beyond amazing.

He played most of my favorite Ringo tunes (including Honey Don't - my all-time favorite Ringo song!) And I had a great time with the music.

His All-Starr Band is made up of names from other hit groups, and each player gets a feature to do his own stuff. I was pleasantly surprised by these others (we didn't know who they were til we got there).

The band included Rick Derringer (the McCoys), Wally Palmar (The Romantics), Edgar Winter (White Trash), Gary Wright (known for "Dream Weaver"), Richard Page (Mr. Mister), and Gregg Bissonette.

They played, among many other songs, "Hang on, Sloopy," "Kyrie," "Dream Weaver," and of course "I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends."

As I mentioned above, the music was IM-PRESSIVE. Song after song, they had us all singing along, clapping our hands, and loving every minute of it.

(Dave and me outside the Pavilion before the concert)

(My husband, Dave, however, ever the ultimate Beatles fan, said "Not enough Ringo songs." LOL)

It was a great celebration of music. So much for my rave.

Now on to my rant.

I HATED Nautica Pavilion.

It's not really that large a venue, so you would think it would not be hard to manage. I guess Cleveland doesn't have much experience there. (You'd think they would, being the home of the Rock and Roll museum....) Although, we have been to several concerts at the Wolstein Center and at the Quicken Loans Arena, and they were handled BEAUTIFULLY!

The staff seemed to have absolutely no clue about their own arena. Three different ushers stood at the BOTTOM of the bleachers and told us "your seats are up there, on the right." (they were actually to the left) I watched ushers over and over ask "what seat are you sitting in?" They were totally clueless.

This meant that many people wound up sitting in the wrong seats, in a sell-out crowd, and so they would have to move when the real ticket-holders got there. The bleachers are so narrow that it is virtually impossible to simply stand up to let people pass by. It was a comedy of errors, truly.

And the bleacher seats were so small, I was sitting with my arms hunched in my lap all night. Hard to move to the music when you're that close together. And the music made me want to MOVE. How can you not move when you listen to these songs?

We also bought bottled soft drinks during the show, and were told that they could not give us the bottle caps. I thought this was particularly odd, and had wanted a bottle versus a cup so that I could reseal it and be sure not to spill any during the concert.

So I asked WHY she couldn't give us the bottle caps. Her reply? "So you can't throw the bottle caps on the stage during the show." WHAT? What kind of crazy-ass concerts do they have at this venue that people throw bottle caps at the stage? Now, I admit, my concert attendance is limited, and I have been to far more classical concerts than pop or rock ones, but still. Has our society degraded THAT far that we show our appreciation for artists by pelting them with plastic? I was appalled.

So, in summary, last night was a mixed bag. I absolutely LOVED the music, but HATED the venue. I guess it's a good lesson for us for the future. And if you're thinking about buying tickets for a concert at the Nautica, let this serve as fair warning to you!

But hey, I can only hope I look HALF as good at 70 as Ringo Starr does.

Rock on, Ringo!

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Lessons of Las Vegas and LOVE

We just returned from a short trip to Las Vegas.

Let me start by saying I never thought I'd like it. I hate crowds and noise, I'm not great in heat, and I find gambling boring.

What was I going to do in Vegas? For four and a half days? In temperatures soaring well about 100 degrees Fahrenheit?

But this was our anniversary trip, and we were going to Vegas, specifically, to see the Cirque du Soleil LOVE show, based on the music of the Beatles. My husband, Dave, is probably the biggest Beatles fan who ever took a breath. (you think I'm kidding...) So, I pinned on a huge smile, said "That sounds great, honey!" and away we went.

Meanwhile, I was searching for other things to do while we were there. Things that didn't involve the glitz and glamour of the strip.

And I found myself actually enjoying our trip to the land of Sex, Sin, and Vice. The city that never sleeps (though we did, quite a bit).

The best part of our trip was, beyond a doubt, the LOVE show, which was BEYOND amazing. We had had a number of people tell us it was great and that we had to see it. So I was expecting great music (hello? The BEATLES? Could it be bad?) and maybe some cool artistic tricks along the way.

I was in no way prepared for the experience we had.

I was.... utterly speechless.

And for me, who prides herself on being able to choose just the right words, being speechless is a rareity.

From the first moment the lights dimmed and the action began, my jaw dropped and stayed that way until about 2/3 of the way through the show. I finally had to close it so I could recover.

Tears formed in my eyes, and were there until the finale.

I had no idea which way to look at any given moment. I was overcome by the emotion and beauty of the work. I was simply awestruck by the abilities and fluidity of the players in the show. To call them "dancers" or mere "acrobats" does not do them justice in any sense of the word. They moved their bodies like no one I have ever seen before. It was beautiful, and was expertly choreographed to the songs of the Beatles.

The most beautifully choreographed piece was "Octopus' Garden," during which they had about a dozen different acrobats and puppets flying through the air, as if they were floating through the depths of the ocean. It was breathtaking.

The show as a whole served as a sort of chronicle of the Liverpool Boys who would become the Beatles. It highlighted their rise to fame, and showcased the most famous characters from their songs. Both highs and lows in their lives were represented, perhaps the most poignant moment being the death of Lennon's mother, to the tune "Hey, Jude."

We laughed, we cried, we were embraced by the work.

We had not known what to expect when we saw the show, but we walked out of the theater with our hearts blown wide open and ready to get back in line to see the second show. That experience will stay with us for a long, long time to come.

Of course, it was made more special because it was our anniversary celebration, too. We were all dressed up, and had excellent seats. And halfway through the show, the cast came out into the audience, and one of them stopped in front of me, took my hand, called me "beautiful lady with the beautiful smile" and kissed my hand. Now THAT was amazing!

The show was well worth fighting the crowds, noise, and decadence of Vegas. I would even go back to Vegas, just to see LOVE a second time.

The immortal words of the Beatles were certainly true for us, in regards to our Vegas trip.... "all you need is LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is all you need." For us, to make it a perfect trip, all we needed were those perfect seats to the perfect show, LOVE.