Cupid and Psyche

“…Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath love’s mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is love said to be a child
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled….”
William Shakespeare from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 Cupid_slutty

Cupid, God of desire and Psyche, a mortal princess, are a mythological love story that pre-dates Romeo and Juliett.

Prior to studying mythology in one of the many English classes I’ve been in, I used to think that Cupid was a slutty-type of dude. This was mostly based on my intrepreation of his devilish, boyish-smirk, ALWAYS naked body and wings to fly, fly, fly away whenever he wanted. And to my slutty Cupid point, somewhere in the life of Cupid and the world of mythology, Cupid acquired his bow and arrow that represents his source of power: “a person, or even a deity, who is shot by Cupid’s arrow is filled with uncontrollable desire.” Wikipedia

That kind of slutty-type of Cupid is the kind of guy you can have a good time with, but shouldn’t expect a call from him the next day, let alone breakfast in the morning. Keep in mind, his wings were made for flying and that’s just what he’d do: fly right into the bed of the next person he set his arrow on being with. He is Californication’s Hank Moody of Cupids

This was my own intrepretation of Cupid, until I learned from studying the classics that he accidentally poisoned his heart with his own arrow and he was forever in love with Psyche. For some reading this that didn’t know that, or forgot – yes, it’s true, or fiction, or mythology, or…so the story goes.

We’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this week, so let’s examine what the tip of Cupid’s arrow was poisoned with: uncontrollable desire for just a moment. I suppose I’ve been involved with the modern day slutty- type of Cupid now and again in past years. And each Valentine’s Day that approached, or really any celebrated holiday, I hoped it was my heart he chose to shoot his arrow into and not another damsel, or two, or three. Is it pointless to say that I was always disappointed with the slutty-type of Cupid? There was never a chocolate, nor a flower delivered to me. Hurt and angered, I swore I’d never see him again…that was until he raised his steady arm; pulled back his trusted bow and with agility and persuasion, shot his arrow with trained accuracy into the middle of my already bleeding and broken heart….

That was until one day I became stronger than him. I no longer was interested in his sweet talk, the speed of his wings, his bow, nor his arrow anymore. I was immune to his type of slutty-uncontrollable desire. I wanted something more. I wanted a real Cupid. Not a boy with a smirkish grin and a fierce aim. I wanted chocolates, flowers and breakfast in the morning. I wanted a real relationship with someone that love, uncontrollable desire and mutual respect was celebrated everyday, not just hoping for special treats on particular days, like Valentine’s Day.

This year, like last year, as I bath in the scent and visual beauty of the long-stemmed roses the real Cupid in my life sent me, I want everyone to know there are lots of slutty-type Cupids in the world and you shouldn’t settle for one them if your heart desires something more. And although my search for the perfect Cupid took longer than I had hoped, I can say that my search was thorough and like the arrow of Cupid, precise.

 

Happy Valentines Day
Psyche writing for Neve Black

Convergence

Long gone are the sounds of a tethered house line at it shrills in the middle of the night; jarring quiet bones and sleepy heads from the depths of sleep. The person on the other end bites their bottom lip in anticipation to hear the familiar voice finally pick-up the receiver and with groggy, trepidation ask, “Hello?”  Instead, we have mobile phones, e-mail accounts and social media that have retired many ringing telephones filled with sweet and sometimes bitter news. The news bearer is often bringing us news about the past – a convergence of the past, present and future.

I have always been a person that looks ahead, because the past is the past. We can’t go back, unless we have time machines. So my philosophy has always been: look out past the horizon; keep moving forward, because the future is filled with promise. I would find myself saying, “pffffft,” to the past dawdlers, because I personally wanted to keep moving forward. My memories of the past are limited – I’ve always been like that too. I have to ask a family member or friends I’ve known forever when obtaining facts about something that happened long, ago. I simply can’t always recall. Maybe that’s because I wanted to grow-up fast, or maybe it’s because my foundation is based on the fact that I’m a product of divorce. And even though I’m very fortunate to have come from a loving family, I always felt like the ground I stood on was always a little shaky. I wanted to race past that shakiness and build something solid – I suppose that’s what I’ve done. I feel strong, secure and stable in my life, but it hasn’t always been like that.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve clipped the wings on the future a bit and learned to ground myself in the now, the present. This is has been a painful process for me to learn, but I realize the importance of this practice. One thing I learned about myself was I mostly enjoyed the process of getting to the goal line more than reaching the goal, which is essentially enjoying the now.  Sure, achieving one’s goals are a terrific feeling, but it’s the process of getting there that I found is the most important part for me. I learned about what my real strengths and weaknesses are and what makes me push past the pain to reach those goals and if the goals are really all that important.  I have a note from someone I once knew – coincidentally from the past, that he wrote on a bar napkin and it sits in a frame in my house as a reminder.  It reads simply and poignantly: “It’s always better to be on the road than to reach the Inn.”

Interestingly, living in the now has helped me deal with the past a bit more too….

Ah, the past…she still remains a bitch for me sometimes. And I’ve noticed over the past few years’ that my past has come back to tap me on the shoulder – offering a gentle reminder that she’s still present. Sometimes it’s a pleasant nudge – reacquainting me with persons I’ve lost touch with. I’ve been open to greeting her with a friendly smile, mostly for that reason and I’ve been accepting of the news she brings. Lately, I’ve noticed the past has been stronger in her approach – working harder at trying to bridge the gap between yesterday, today and tomorrow. As an example, this past week it felt like I was delivered a punch in the stomach, or the shrill of a phone that comes in the middle of the night: she delivered the news that someone I knew a very, long time ago had died. I went twisting and cartwheeling back to that place in my past  that didn’t feel so solid. A few days have gone by now and I’m steady again, so I’ve been pondering the past and I can’t help but wonder –  is the universe, or perhaps it’s Charles Dickens trying to tell me that the convergence of past, present and future are all equally important? Is accepting your past as important today as it will be tomorrow?

Yes, I think it is.

I’ll admit, dealing with the past for me is not easy, it’s a work in progress, I suppose, but I’m understanding it’s an important part of who I am today and who I will be tomorrow.

 

Neve Black

 

Know and Listen to Your “Self”

How well do you really know your “self”?

Even if you reinvent yourself by moving to another city, find a new career path, or get involved with new and different people – your “self” will always be there: peeking up from behind, bumping into and whispering those sometimes bitter-sweet truths. Suffice to say, wherever we go, there we are. Optimistically, I do believe our “self” expands, grows, evolves with every new step we take, every new adventure we embark upon and each person that we meet. However, the same pair of eyes stares back at us from the mirror we peer into, regardless of the mirror’s geographical location. And all the travels to foreign lands and nourishing relationships we experience in our life won’t change that.

We are who we are.

For some of you reading this, these words will seem regurgitated, as they’ve been said many times before this post. I suppose I’m writing about the topic today, because I’ve reached an important crossroad in my life. Do I take path A? Path B? Or do I turn around and find another road altogether? For me, knowing who my own “self” is helps shake the sense into making the decision – making the right decision. I’ve lived in various places, been fortunate enough to have traveled throughout the world and met many wonderful people along my “self” journey, but I am who I am regardless of where I am – the free-spirited-gypsy that has only ever wanted to write.

So it would make sense that the writer “self” is the “self” that towers-over, crowds-out and speaks clearly and loudest out of all the other parts of my “self”, so I tend to listen to that “self” more. The writer “self” often wants to speak to me at the most inconvenient times, so I refrain from listening. This is often due to being too caught-up in life, so I sublimate the voice, while the clock tick-tocks and the crossroad glares back at me with anxious anticipation.  

And then on the other end of the more convenient spectrum, there are those times when I lay in bed at night, eyes closed; body tired; breath is heavy-constant; waiting for whatever comes first – the Vampires or sleep to take me, when the writer “self” talks gently, almost subliminally, guiding me through the twisted maze of confusion with her words of resounding wisdom. I listen. And when I awake the next morning, I’m refreshed and resolved. When the crossroads begs the question, “what are you going to do?” I now know with great confidence what the answer is, because it was the advice of my “self” that I finally listened to.

 

Neve Black

What’s The Big Lebowski Deal?

biglebowski

Out of all the Coen Brother’s brilliant films, The Big Lebowski has always been my least favorite – for good reason though: I never got it. I’d walk away after seeing it, scratching my head and wondering to myself, “what just happened?” I have however been known for giving things a another chance, so when I was invited to go see the movie on the big screen with friends who find merit in this Coen-cult film – and knowing how much I respect their opinions, I decided to go. I pulled together my best Dude outfit and tumble-weeded my way towards the dark theater.

Maybe it was my Dude transformation, the two White Russians I had, my more mature outlook on film analyses (snicker), or maybe it was being in the throes of a theater packed with Big Lebowski fans, because…

Uh, sorry everyone… I was all prepared to talk a good game about existentialism and wow you with some nihilist bullshit, but hell, it would be easier just to ask the brothers themselves about the film. Better yet, ask Frances McDermott, because I think I read somewhere that it was a friend of hers that wrote the script.

So, suffice to say, I can’t lie to you and say I had an epiphany after seeing the film this time and now I completely and fully understand what the hidden meaning is behind it – unfortunately, I walked out of the theater, once again not really getting it. What I do really like about the film and have always understood, other than it’s well-crafted with good writing, acting and a funny plot-line is it’s a tribute to Los Angeles. The film referenced facts, historical figures and places only someone that really appreciates Los Angeles could know.

Okay, so there might be a smidgen of tongue-’n-cheek love of LA going on here, because there was that scene about Malibu… but come on, Malibu really stands up and begs to get picked on. I suppose one could argue that Los Angeles does have an abundance of smoke and mirrors going on, mostly because of the Hollywood scene. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of plastic body parts, plastic money and plastic cars, so it makes it even more difficult to look pass the veneer and see things and see people for what and who they really are. Sometimes after you strip everything down to its naked soul, you still might find you don’t like what you see, but sometimes you find a real gem, like the warmth, compassion and honesty the Coen’s found in The Dude. And The Dude, well that feller, he was from Los Angeles.

 

The Dude Abides
Neve Black

Breaking Bad Is So Good

breakingbad

I don’t find many shows on television very good, which is why I don’t have any of the various cable-related services. Hells, I don’t even own a television. So when some of my most well respected writer/artist friends hammered convinced me, with great zeal to become addicted watch a television show called, Breaking Bad – I was suspicious.

How good could Breaking Bad really be?

Quite frankly, I snubbed the entire idea of watching the show. I have a love/hate relationship with television. Let’s be honest, a lot of what’s on television these days, or days gone by, is nothing but mind-numbing nonsense. Noisy, vacuously-bovine shows filling the empty hollows of our often already washed-out brains from the daily tediousness of life. There’s nothing wrong with vacuously-bovine, I suppose, but a brain needs nourishment too. Too many empty calories of the poorly written, badly directed and going nowhere plot lines, all in the name of Neilson Ratings can’t be good for you. Also, I’m always fearful of getting sucked into the ETCS: empty-caloric, television-watching, couch-potato syndrome. I know plenty of smart, articulate, vibrant people this has happened to: here today; gone to T.V. land tomorrow – never to be heard from again.

With all that being said, I pushed my fears aside and took a leap of faith – trusting the good judgment of fellow writers and off to Amazon I went and proceeded to download Breaking Bad Season I.

Season I: Whoa! I felt like I’d just witnessed the second coming in terms of television writing, directing and acting. How the hell did this show get past my radar for so long? Never mind, we already know the answer to that question. Wincing through the violence, shaking my head at the utter stupidity of the two main character’s decision to take on a life of crime, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, I watched the first season in less than a week. Watching Breaking Bad was like heroine. I took on one sensational episode after the next. And before I could say, crystal meth, I’d slipped into the dark side of ETCS, even if I didn’t own a television and I was viewing the show from my 15” laptop screen.

Obsessively I purchased Season II and greedily obliterated it: filling my mind with more violence and the shock of just how really, damn good the show was, while simultaneously scratching my head and repeatedly asking myself, “this was written for television…really…?” Holy hells, this shit is good. Before too long, I was talking like Jesse Pinkman, dropping yo and biatch like they were common words in my non-television watching vocabulary. Oh, and I also pulled out my pork-pie hat, similar to the one Walter White wears when he starts to realize how good breaking bad feels.

 Why is it so good to Break Bad? Breaking Bad has believable characters, both the acting and directing are stellar – and the writing…well, it’s superb. The story in of itself escalates at a steady life-of-crime rate, the music is amazing and camera direction is fantastic. It’s without question a great show because it contains all these things I’ve mentioned. But like the recipe that produces those perfect, blue crystals, there’s something else to this show’s successful ingredients too – I like to think it’s because we all secretly want to break bad – and really what better way is there to break some bad, while conveniently avoiding prison, than going for the ride of your life with Jesse and Walter?

I’m now watching Season V, which is the final season of this show – I suppose that now makes me a veteran of Breaking Bad, as well as couch potato, yo!

 

 Television is not so bad,
Neve Black

I Think You Should Know

An open letter to John Kuegler:

john

Your death shocked us all, John. I don’t think anyone could honestly say that they saw it coming either, unless of course someone in the vast group of persons that knew you was a psychic. And I wouldn’t find that to be so unlikely either, after all, you were a man of great variation.

I was teary-eyed and saddened by the news that you were gone. And even though you and I weren’t really ever that close, you touched by life in a way that was special all to me.

I think you should know, there was a rain shower…well, that’s not completely true, it was really more like a torrential downpour of persons that were as equally shocked and genuinely upset to learn about this news. Your family, your close friends, and not so close friends, as well as acquaintances that knew you were all shaking their heads in unison with disbelief and sadness.

I know I keep mentioning the word, sad here, and I knew you well enough to know that you don’t want to hear about that, because you were an optimist, John. So, okay then, fair enough – enough with the sad. Even though life would sometimes get you down, and kick you hard, like it does all of us, you my friend found a way out from under the sad – you found happiness in music. Music was your muse, your lover, your best friend. Music was you.

Last night I joined your family, friends, acquaintances, and fellow musicians from all corners of Ohio to celebrate you; to celebrate your life here with us. It was a wonderful summer night. The air was warm, so the doors at The Spider were all open – live, loud, powerful, emotional, beautiful, gripping, foot-stopping, swinging, sing-along kinds of music poured onto the streets; dancing up past the stars and moon; moving out past the world; hoping to reach you -  wherever you are.

Sure, I’m not going to lie, there were some tears of sadness, but there was much laughter and there were many wonderful stories about you too. I shared my tale of when I first met you 10 years’ ago, and how I recently caught up with you and we talked about life and religion for two hours, while sipping on beers at a local spot in Tremont. I will always have that memory – I am thankful for that time with you.

I think what I want to say here, John is… I think you should know that I’m not the only person’s life you touched. I think you should know how much you will be missed. And I think you should know how many people loved you, my friend.

 

Rest In Peace, John Kuegler

Neve Black

Buried Treasure

I can’t believe the dirt actually washed clean from my fingernails. I say this to you as well to myself, as I type this post - looking down at soft- pink moons and white fingernail tips poised eagery across my laptop’s keys.  I’ve played in so much dirt the past couple days, the golden brown hue on my shoulders and upper back, which I thought was the affects of a deepening, summer suntan, looks to have mostly washed down the shower drain a little bit ago. I was a very dirty girl.

Suffice to say,  I’ve been spending some time digg’n  in the dirt lately. My dirt digg’n ways include crazy stuff like shoveling up huge  pieces of cement, encrusted in red brick. My backyard was overwhelmed with many large old stones and cement pieces just hours ago, until I hauled it all away today. To give you some perspective on the quantity of these cement/brick pieces, the hauling of said stone pieces took hours to get rid of today: there were several trips of rubble and debris loaded up in the back of my Jeep, along with a few wheel-barrow haulings to my neighbors dumpster (permission granted).  All this digg’n is necessary when trying to create a new garden of beauty though. I have garden vision. I can see Shangra-la-Black on the horizon.

 I have to admit, with all the digging I’ve been doing, I keep thinking I’m going to uncover lost loot. I know. I sound like a ten year-old child convinced  lost, buried treasure resides somewhere in her recently acquired backyard. These thoughts I’m sure have to do with my vivid imagination, fueled by my love of reading, and watching movies. Movies such as Goonies. And just so you know, my ten year-old imagination runs more wildly than normal too when I’m dreaming up big – all the things I’d do with this found treasure! The treasure in my 10 year-old mind, of course is millions of dollars. All tucked away in neat, crisp wads of Grover Cleveland’s; unscathed, and safe inside an old coffee cannister, or metal box. I imagine the tip of my shovel hits the metal treasure chest, and I rotate the shovel around the sides, pushing the shovel deeper into the ground, hearing the shovel scrape across the metal container, until I can get below it, and lift the money safe up from the darkened, cool earth.  Sitting down, Indian-style, the dirty box sits in my lap. As I push away the dark earth that surrounds the dirty containers opening, I pull my work gloves from my hands. I open the lid, and the smell of dust, spores of old earth, and money fill my nostrils. I’m rich! I’m rich!

Later, after I’ve cleaned up, and managed to gain composure, I’m interviewed by the local news, and then some faved home improvement television show. I wear dark sun-glasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect my identity of course, but the money…it’s all mine.

As I step back into reality…and realize that I am not 10 years’-old – even if I often act like I am – unfortunately, I didn’t find a box of buried money in my backyard today. Upon reflection, I suppose however, I am uncovering buried treasure though.  I’m creating something out there, which has been an utter mess and clean-up project. I’m creating a treasure that will be a place of beauty, and solace. A treasure of a place for friends, family, cats, bugs, and other critters to enjoy. My buried treasure is that all my hard-work and vision will pay off – and that my friends is what finding buried treasure is all about.

 

Neve Black

p.s. feeling like you’re 10 years-old is marvelous. I highly recommend it.