February 10, 2009: Whoa! Another week between blog entries, and it’s due to feeling better and having more daily activity. Along with more physical stamina, I’ve also had a surge of interesting things to do. Last Thursday, I went with my friend Ellen to see the St. Laurent show at the de Young. I had been there before on a weekend when there were many more people in the galleries, but this time, the rooms were easily traversed. We could get close to the clothes that spanned thirty five years of St. Laurent’s vision of what made women look superb. It was a show with many masterpieces of design from one of his early trapeze coats that still looked modern and sleek ranging through his re-work of the tuxedo look for women to his unstoppable and inventive use of beautiful textiles.
Later in the evening Ann and I went to the second ballet in our series and had one of those “star is born” experiences that are always electric when they occur. In this case, the star was a newly-hired principal dancer from Havana Cuba named Taras Dimitro. He appeared in the last movement of Helgi Thomason’s Prisim and immediately performed a long, high leap the length of which hadn’t been seen on the Opera House stage for a very long time. Then, he leapt again, this time with some embellishments mid-air. It became clear that this guy could hold the entire audience with ease. Later in the evening he danced the role of Melancholy in Balanchine’s The Four Temperments and this time he was languid, slow, with long back bends where his arms drooped onto the floor with his shoulders impossibly far back and his lower back in a deep curve. Amazing. It was a wonderful evening with the entire company looking exuberant and spirited plus the addition of a new member who promises a very rich future for the lucky audience.
Friday, my friend Jay and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Arts of Pacific Asia show with dealers from all over the world bringing their Asian treasures to the San Francisco market. My favorite piece in the show was a shimmering piece of soft white silk embroidered with pastel colors made in India for Portuguese customers. There were also some great, old tankas from Tibet, Central Asian ikats and wonderful porcelains. The most fun was seeing the dealers again who I have gotten to know over the years. Several of them knew about my cancer so there were condolences as well as many wishes for good health. Best of all, my friend Ulrike from Stuttgart was in the show, and I had the pleasure of visiting with her briefly in her booth and then a longer visit over dinner last night (Monday, Feb. 9th). I deeply enjoy knowing Ulrike, and am very glad that our relationship which started as buyer and seller has turned into a much more wide-ranging friendship. It is always a treat to see her.
Saturday was the Maitri Board of Directors retreat which went very well. The morning started with my delivery of the background history of Maitri which I give twice a year to the new volunteers coming into the program. The Board had never heard this talk, so I repeated it for them, and it got our day off to a good start by realizing all of the deep cultural roots that have been sources for Maitri’s special blend of compassion and care for our residents. Although Maitri has some interesting prospects in its immediate future, it also has no crises or threats at the moment. What a blessing to have a board retreat with no major dilemmas to solve or resolve. Later in the evening, I had a long overdue dinner with my friends Philip and Goel.
The big event on Sunday was a recital at Hertz Hall in Berkeley by Danielle de Niese a young and very exciting soprano with great coloratura technique. In a program that ranged from Handel to Hugo Wolf to Poulenc to Samuel Barber, de Niese showed that her voice is well trained and supple. Still, as I was listening to her, I kept hoping that she keeps her enlarging repertoire largely in the baroque repertoire. There’s a happy combination of great phrasing and good acting where she brings those roles to life.
As I’m reviewing this blog entry, it seems much more extroverted and externalized than most of my entries. There’s a lot of “Here’s what I did, and this is who I did it with.” Much of this is due to feeling better as I get further away from the chemo treatments. However, let me also say that this time has been full of exercises where I come back into my body. Where else might I be? Well, I have a habit of dissociating a fair amount, so I have started doing breath work where I anchor myself back in my body. Also I do imaging where I see myself inside myself. When I’m in my body, I feel less fear and anxiety about the state of my health. Much of the distress that I felt immediately after my scans were read has gone away, replaced by knowing that I am doing what I can to get better.