Monthly Archives: September 2015

Linked to Nature

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Views from the new Whitney Museum, Meatpacking District, Manhattan

When I was young, I would imagine myselt in various occupations and, based on my knowledge about each, I would construct a scenerio of  my life say, as an employee of the American Embassy working in Paris or a teacher in a classroom full of students wanting to learn. I could see myself as an assistant to a US Senator working in Washington or a high powered employee of Wall Street firm.  One occupation I entertained off-and-on for quite a while was a Park Ranger. I saw myself as the keeper of beauty always alert to threats and being an expert in averting them in order to maintain what remained of the wild, natural world. There was something enticing about life in the forest, climbing to the top of towers to search the panorama for signs of fire, hearing only the sound of water flowing in streams and birds calling to each other.

In college, my love of the arts took over my imagination.  Living and working in a natural environment seemed quaint,much less desirable and very, very lonely. Cities were magnets for art, dance, theater and museums. New York became the place for me to be.  My old dreams were relegated to the recesses of my mind. Front and center was the pull of Manhattan with its sophistication and savvy people  who were successful enough to make that island of bricks and cement, highrises, and dark streets their home. I didn’t want to acknowledge then just how much the part of me who felt at home in nature would be lost in my new environment and I wasn’t alone. Why are all the apartments that have views of the Hudson River or the East River or the lush green  trees of Central Park so coveted, so expensive?

(To be continued)



The Cedar Chest in the Living Room

The top of the chest.

The top of the chest.

How often I glance at the ornately carved cedar chest from china.  The chest that sailed from Asia to American Northwest and sat in my father’s cabin in Oregon until traveling east to New York City when my mom and dad got married. My first memory of the chest was in the living room of our apartment on Staten Island. It was the magical piece of furniture in the room meant to be looked at and to store extraordinary things. From there, it moved with us to a house not more that a mile from the Verrazano Bridge facing the Narrows across from Brooklyn. There it occupied a position of honor underneath windows facing North and West.

The treasures it held traveled with us.  A white, Angora sweater from Italy neated folded in tissue paper, a boomerang from Australia, a doll from Germany, all of which were treated like artifacts in a museum.  Occasionally, they were taken out and put on view for all to admire.  The story of how my father, an engineer with the Merchant Marines, acquired these treasures on his travels around the world was dutifully retold until I had it memorized.  Eventually, the doll came to sit on my bed and the sweater was worm by my sister.

Now, the chest is mine and it sits in a prominent place in the living room of my home on Long Island.  It hold different treasures. They, too, are removed occasionally and gazed at and one day they will belong to other family members.

The Cedar Chest

The Cedar Chest

<a href="">Home Turf</a>Home Turf

The Pull of Time Past

We are all affected by time to some extent.  The past is so prevalent, the present is so fleeting and the future is unknowable. I was reading the blog, Becoming is Superior to Being. In today’s post, Pit Stop,  the  beautiful poem, “Captive”, by Federico Garcia Lorca, in which life is held captive by time appears under a picture filled with dazzling color. I realize that I would like to release the pull of time past and dwell in the present–now time.  I wonder if this is possible.  What do I have to do to switch from mulling over what has occurred to appreciating what is occurring?

A Layered Life

Morning Sky

Morning Sky

As in a dream, it comes in a rush like when you pull the stopper out of a sink filled with water. Then, you know. I was an African once and then an Egyptian.  How do you know.  Rhythm.  Through the resonance of rhythm, the awareness erupts and the movements of dance reverberate deep inside.  And the realization of a soul that goes back to the beginning when we  rolled out of the muck and slime of the sea to breathe air and walk on land, hits like the push/pull of the tides. The never-ending rhythms buoy us on timeless vibrations as life evolves into new forms, new consciousness, new knowledge.





I feel younger than I am. I haven’t been a girl for decades. But, girl was my first identity and it stubbornly refuses to fade into history. Girl defines me. Even before the “boys and girls” of elementary school, my father referred to me as “the girl”—a memory that has remained vivid in part because my mother would remind me of it whenever she spoke of my childhood. So, I am the girl.

For several years, I haven’t seen clearly. This is literally true. I first noticed it as I was driving from Long Island to Manhattan on a snowy December afternoon. The sun suddenly emerged from clouds and the glare blinded me. Good thing my car knows the way. Then, I had difficulty reading in soft light and needed a few overhead, high watt bulbs to read the newspaper. Soon, I realized I had a huge blur in my right eye and a smaller one in my left eye. I panicked. My eyes! What would I do without vision?

Now, these eyes are the eyes of a much younger person. They see clearly again and I am thrown back to a time when my vision was detailed, nuanced and the sun’s rays didn’t blind me. Last May, I shook off my fears and went to the eye doctor. After a cursory look with his instruments, the doctor said I needed cataract surgery in both eyes. Yes, I was on the young side for this surgery but, nevertheless, it had to be done.

My new vision is forcing me to reexamine reality. Along with the joyful anticipation of seeing what I have been unable to see for years, comes the anxiety of catching up, of plunging into unknown realms.


One Girl’s View of the World

Hello! I am Mary Johansen.  I am a writer and poet living on Long Island.  I am looking forward to Blogging 101 and to starting a blog.  I’ve had some false starts before.  Now, I’m determined to succeed.

Here’s my vision for this blog: From the present to the past to visions of the future including all influences: positive, negative, circumstantial, personal, big history and current events, a commentary on life composed of filtered memories, unexpected perspectives, pop-up poetry, pretty pictures and pithy reflections of the experiences of a female in the United States.

So that’s a mouthful!