The depression belongs to all of us. I think of the family down the road whose mother was having a baby and they went around the neighborhood saying, “We’re pregnant.” I want to go around the neighborhood saying, “We’re depressed.” If my mum can’t get out of bed in the morning, all of us feel the same. Her silence has become ours, and it’s eating us alive.
You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.
People talk about the happy quiet that can exist between two lovers, but this, too, was great; sitting between his sister and his brother, saying nothing, eating. Before the world existed, before it was populated, and before there were wars and jobs and colleges and movies and clothes and opinions and foreign travel — before all of these things there had been only one person, Zora, and only one place: a tent in the living room made from chairs and bed-sheets. After a few years, Levi arrived; space was made for him; it was as if he had always been. Looking at them both now, Jerome found himself in their finger joints and neat conch ears, in their long legs and wild curls. He heard himself in their partial lisps caused by puffy tongues vibrating against slightly noticeable buckteeth. He did not consider if or how or why he loved them. They were just love: they were the first evidence he ever had of love, and they would be the last confirmation of love when everything else fell away.
―Zadie Smith, On Beauty
I always hear people talk about ‘dysfunctional families.’ It annoys me, because it makes you think that somewhere there’s this magical family where everyone gets along, and no one ever screams things they don’t mean, and there’s never a time when sharp objects should be hidden. Well, I’m sorry, but that family doesn’t exist. And if you find some neighbors that seem to be the grinning model of ‘function,’ trust me – that’s the family that will get arrested for smuggling arms in their SUV between soccer games.
The best you can really hope for is a family where everyone’s problems, big and small, work together. Kind of like an orchestra where every instrument is out of tune, in exactly the same way, so you don’t really notice.
Unicorns are immortal. It is their nature to live alone in one place: usually a forest where there is a pool clear enough for them to see themselves-for they are a little vain, knowing themselves to be the most beautiful creatures in all the world, and magic besides. They mate very rarely, and no place is more enchanted than one where a unicorn has been born. The last time she had seen another unicorn the young virgins who still came seeking her now and then had called to her in a different tongue; but then, she had no idea of months and years and centuries, or even of seasons. It was always spring in her forest, because she lived there, and she wandered all day among the great beech trees, keeping watch over the animals that lived in the ground and under bushes, in nests and caves, earths and treetops. Generation after generation, wolves and rabbits alike, they hunted and loved and had children and died, and as the unicorn did none of these things, she never grew tired of watching them.
When you grow up as a girl, it is like there are faint chalk lines traced approximately three inches around your entire body at all times, drawn by society and often religion and family and particularly other women, who somehow feel invested in how you behave, as if your actions reflect directly on all womanhood.
—M.E. Thomas, Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight
There is some of the same fitness in a man’s building his own house that there is in a bird’s building its own nest. Who knows but if men constructed their dwellings with their own hands, and provided food for themselves and families simply and honestly enough, the poetic faculty would be universally developed, as birds universally sing when they are so engaged? But alas! we do like cowbirds and cuckoos, which lay their eggs in nests which other birds have built, and cheer no traveller with their chattering and unmusical notes. Shall we forever resign the pleasure of construction to the carpenter?
The novelist Dumas would one day borrow features from both of his uncles, not to mention his grandfather, the acknowledged scoundrel, in fashioning the central villains of The Count of Monte Cristo. Reading court documents detailing the sordid unraveling of Charles’s sham fortune, which would have devastating effects on his daughter and her unsuspecting husband, I couldn’t help thinking that one of the interesting things about Dumas’s villains is that, while greedy and unprincipled themselves, they produce children who can be innocent and decent. This was something that the writer understood very well from his own family.
―Tom Reiss, The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo
Cecilia Duarte and Octavio Moreno in Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, Houston Grand Opera This image used in accordance with Fair Use Policy
José “Pepe” Mártinez and Leonard Foglia’s Cruzar la Cara de la Luna, To Cross the Face of the Moon, weaves an emotional and profound story of a family divided by the US Mexican border. A wife, Renata, stays behind in Mexico while a husband, Laurentino, seeks work on the other side. He is confident that he will make money to improve their lives. She is wise enough to see the price of Laurentino’s absence: distance between him and their son. A border crossing goes terribly wrong and the result dissolves the family. Yet something remains, as mysterious as the flocks of migrating Monarch butterflies that seem to cross the face of the moon.
This work is full of crossings: crossing the border, crossing between life and death, between memory and the present, between this world and the next. It is also the world’s first mariachi opera, a hybrid fusion of two musical worlds that seem to flourish and find new dimensions in one another. The music has a popular feel to it, but it is woven with complexity. Dark operatic moments are deepened by moments filled with the brilliant playfulness of mariachi. It becomes impossible to say where one genre begins and one ends. This is not a mish-mash, but something seamless and new.
If you are hesitant about opera or about mariachi this is a great show for you. The intimacy and the credibility of the story are such that the audience is drawn in without concentrating on style or technique, although the performers certainly possess both in generous amounts. This is simply a very poignant family story, the kind that happen every day around us. Audiences in San Diego, Houston and Chicago will get the chance to see this work within the next month and a half as it tours with the original cast. You do not want to miss it. Here is a little taste.