Land of the Free

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It’s Election Day! I hope you get out there and exercise your right to vote for who you want to be Senator, Congressman, Comptroller…President. You are free to do that.

I’m reading a book called “The Girl with Seven Names” by Hyeonseo Lee. Hyeonseo escaped from North Korea and a brutal life under a dictatorship. She didn’t even know the extent of her own bondage until years later. She lived in fear of things like the mandatory home portraits of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il getting dust on them and the almost assured punishment that would follow such a disrespectful crime. She lived in a dark world where information was restricted, lest the people of North Korea form free thoughts and opinions. Hyeonseo was not free.51dOIBoNRrL.jpg

My fellow Americans, do not be deceived, we are free. Your life may not be perfect. There’s still work to be done in this country, I’m not saying it’s a perfect world. Your life may not be what you want it to be, but you are free to change it. You are free to speak against our President, against our government, against our very Constitution without fear of punishment or retribution. Hyeonseo was not. She wasn’t even free when she finally escaped to China, constantly under the watchful eyes of the Bowibu looking to bring back escaped North Koreans. Hyeonseo had to watch her back, had to hide in plain sight, had to change her name seven times in the course of her life just to stay alive.

I’ve heard a lot of negativity in this election cycle. A lot of talk about how scary our country has become and how much people are wishing for the “good old days.” I hope you think about what the “good old days” looked like for so many people in this country. For minorities, women, immigrants…they were not good days.

Freedom comes at a price. The price is moving forward. The price is allowance and tolerance and understanding. That is a price that North Korea refuses to pay. And a price that America paid a long time ago. Think before you talk about this great nation. We don’t need to be made great, we already are. And those who are still fighting for rights deserve the chance for the same freedoms that I (a privileged, white, American, female) take for granted.

Reading Hyeonseo’s story has me thanking God for my own, flaws and all. And doubly has me thanking God for my country. This is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Don’t let anyone tell you different. If you spent a day in Hyeonseo’s shoes, you might think differently about this great nation!

Vote well. Vote wise. But most of all VOTE!!

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“O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!”      –‘Let America Be America Again’ by Langston Hughes

The Pianist, The Poem and The Captain of the Starship Enterprise

Last night was a night of culture and nerosity all in one delightful performance at 92Y.

Sir Patrick Stewart performed the epic poem Enoch Arden written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson in the mid-1800’s. At his side was Emmanuel Ax performing the companion accompainiment on piano written by Richard Strauss in 1897.

I studied piano for 10 years of my life and am now mediocre at best, thanks to being a big quitter at the tender age of 15. You know who is neither a quitter nor mediocre? Emanuel Ax… that’s who!
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It is one of the most wonderful things to behold, a true artist who not only understands his craft but uses it to the fullest of his potential. This is a trait Stewart and Ax share.

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Patrick Stewart is best known as the Captain of a little starship called Enterprise and for a Trekkie like me, this was such a treat. His voice is at times booming, at times a mere whisper. He has such a melody to the way he speaks. I’d listen to him give orders on a starship. I’d listen to him read Shakespearean verse. Hell, I’d listen to him read the jokes on a Laffy Taffy wrapper.

I haven’t even gotten to the meat of the poem itself. (Too busy waxing poetic about the players to discuss the play.)

Enoch Arden is a tale of love, both enduring and heart-breaking. At the center are three players, Phillip, Annie Lee and Enoch Arden. To read it is to only.partially understand it. To hear it read aloud to Strauss’ music and by such a talented man, is to truly understand it better!!

There’s a Giant in my Pantry

Excerpt
By Liz Tailor

A giant’s foot is in my pantry.
And I don’t know how or why.
I tried to ask him yesterday,
But his head brushes the sky.
I said, “Hey there, Mr. Giant,
Just a question if you please?
How’d your foot get in my pantry?”
But my question reached his knees.

Everyday I’d try again
To ask the giant how he came.
Pretty soon I just grew tired.
And the question hurt my brain.
Just how in life the largest men
That I had ever seen,
Got his foot stuck in my pantry?
I just had to know the scheme…

The Road Not Taken

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Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken is my very favorite poem. It’s uplifting and inspiring. And in dark times it always conforts me.

The Road Not Taken-Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler long I stood
And looking down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

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Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

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I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
For

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