I’m officially obsessed with Polish Cinema

I have begun to obsess over Polish Cinema. Why this obsession? I feel this intense yearning to watch every film by Andrzej Wajda. The way he portrays women is incredible. They are portrayed like Our Lady Mary– the Saviors and the symbols of truth, innocence and honesty and usually saving the butts of men, or at least trying. The men instead are stubborn and their allegiance to their country always seems to get the better of them. The women are the ones who enable life to continue even in the most wretched of circumstances. Wajda’s films are highly politicized and for good reason. Wadja began filming just five years after World War II, a time of intense turmoil in Poland especially. A country was tossed back and forth like a ragdoll between both Germany and what was then the Soviet Union. Before 1989 Wajda’s films had to be approved by the censorship authorities in Communist Poland. So despite his discontent with Socialism he had to mind himself so his films could be approved. And his films were important, not only did they expose the evils of socialism, but I’m sure they provided ammunition, albeit small, for events such as the Gdańsk shipyard strike. At least in films like Man of Marble–which was hugely successful in Poland with lines outside the cinemas–audiences related to the film because it highlighted the manipulation and the trickery of the Socialist Worker’s Party. Although the film was looked at as potentially harmful to the government, it wasn’t banned.

In Man of Marble, basically a film within a film, the character filmmaker, Agneiszka, an abrasive young student who smokes constantly while ordering around her male film crew. She is determined to finish her film, a documentary about a former Worker’s Party leader who rose to fame only with the assistance and manipulation of the government, unbeknownst to him. He was used like a puppet and they ruined his life; his life meant nothing to the success of the socialist leaders, which was the story of many in those days. Wadja displayed this to audiences to silently expose this truth. Poles knew about these injustices but weren’t allowed to talk about them. But here it was, the truth displayed for them on the big screen and their voices finally felt heard, which is why it was said that 1 in 3 people in Poland saw this film and celebrated it.

Man of Marble (1976)

Dressed in blue and white, Agneiszka resembles the Blessed Mother. And the film she wishes to make will resurrect the corruption and manipulation by the government in Communist Poland and possibly remind people of the continuation of it. The man financing the film gets scared to release the film and takes away Agneiszka’s equipment and orders that production end. “Why are they scared?” Her father asks her after the film gets terminated, “because they think it is dangerous,” she says. Her father replies by saying, “It is honest.”

Man of Marble (1976)

In Ashes and Diamonds, starring Zbigniew Cybulski (basically the Polish James Dean) the woman with whom the main character falls in love takes him for a moment to a hopeful land, where only love exists and beauty and poetry, “Life is so beautiful sometimes,” he says to her. He has taken her on a walk through heavy rain. They end up in an old crypt reading a poem by Cyprian Norwid…So often, are you as a blazing torch with flames of burning rags falling about you flaming you know not if the flames bring freedom or death. Consuming all that you must cherish if ashes only will be left and want Chaos and tempest or will the ashes hold the glory of a starlike diamond. The morning start of everlasting triumph.”

Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

All this while he wrestles with the idea of killing a party leader and falling back (which is what he was scheduled to do later that night) into the violence of the times or walking away from all of that to be with this woman with whom he has fallen in love.

Ashes and Diamonds (1958)

In Wajda’s film Kanal, he dipicts the Warsaw Uprising and the Home Army soldier’s escape through the sewers while the city of Warsaw is being destroyed by the German army. The soldiers leading the rebellion escape at night into the sewers. “Shouldn’t we be afraid the Germans will come down here?” One soldier asks, the woman replies, “No. The Germans would never come down here.” Insinuating the Germans thought they were too good for such a place, too clean, & too perfect.

Again Wajda highlights the courage of women. In this film, the woman knows the way through the sewers. She is leading all of the men and they are depending on her. She knows the way. But one by one the men get lost, not willing to stay behind her, because she is going slow, encumbered by her injured lover whom she is carrying. At the end of the film, the woman’s lover is dying and too weak to climb up the shaft that will save both of them. She decides to find a better route for them, but they come face to face with a opening with bars over it. She can see the other side of the river from the opening. Delirious from fever, her lover doesn’t see the closed opening but only light, so she tells them they are safe and they will sit by the light a moment to rest, but she knows he is dying. She gave him the last bit of hope he needed to make his transition to death in peace.

Kanal (1957)

All of these films were more like autobiographical accounts to Wajda and to the actors themselves; all of them experienced the hardships of Socialism, especially in Wajda’s earlier films. In one of his most recent films, Katyn, which depicts of the Katyn Genocide of 1940, a massacre of 22,000 Polish officers at the beginning of WWII. The Soviets blamed it on the Germans and the Germans blamed it on the Soviets, and no one knew what really happened to the officers until after the war. Mothers desperately looked for their sons, wives looked for their husbands, but to no avail until the truth came out years later. Like most of Wajda’s films, Katyn depicted most of this event as seen and experienced through the women. In an interview he mentions that the women are the ones that keep history going, that keep records and letters and without them we would have no memory of our past. The film was something Wadja had always dreamed of producing and directing but couldn’t because of the censor. So when all that ended in 1989, he began to think more about directing Katyn. His own father was one of the Polish officers killed in the Katyn forest and the lead actress’s (Maja Ostaszewska) grandfather was also a victim. So the actors themselves were very close to the story, as with most of Wajda’s political films, which is why they are so powerful.

Katyn 2008

I don’t think I would be so obsessed with these films if the casting wasn’t so good. Days after watching his films the characters still sit with me and think about the small almost imperceptible moments and shots. Like the moment in Man of Marble when Agnieszka is interviewing the former wife of the main character for her documentary and the wife begins to cry in the interview, so Agnieszka closes the window so the interview can no longer be recorded. Here, although she has a tough outer shell, displays her humanity, mercy, and generosity toward this other woman, and it shows that much of the pain of that era was felt behind closed doors and lived on years later. In this scene, Agnieszka seeks the truth, but not at the expense of another’s pain. This is admirable and very subtly displayed in the film.

These are the small details I think about days later. And I think about the characters days afterward too. They stick with me and their stories leave me with a gut wrenching heartache when the film is through.

Aunt Sally: A Narrative of slave life.

“The writer hopes that this little story may be the means of leading those who read it to think and feel deeply upon the truths which it involves, and that many more similar books may be written for our Sabbath Schools, so that the young may grow up imbued with the spirit of liberty, and rejoicing to labor for that oppressed and unhappy race with ‘Aunt Sally’ represents, so, at length, this unfortunate people shall be slaves no longer, but shall find that, to them all, the Cross has been the Way of Freedom.”

Brooklyn, N.Y., May, 1858

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. *Book borrowed from my grandma. Thanks Grandma! .

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Village Life in America by Caroline Cowles Richards

This was a charming read. The diary of a young girl growing up on the eve of the Civil War and beyond in Canandaigua, New York. .

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“Monday Morning, April 10, 1865—‘whether I am in the body, or out of the body, I know not, but one thing I know, Lee has surrendered! and all the people seem crazy in consequence. The bells are ringing, boys and girls, men and women are running through the streets wild with excitement; the flags are flying, one from the top of our church, and such a “hurrah boys” generally, I never dreamed of. We were quietly eating our breakfast this morning about 7 o’clock, when our church bell commenced to ring, then the Methodist bell, and now all the bells in town are ringing. Mr. Noah T. Clarke ran by, all excitement, and I don’t believe he knows where he is. No school today. I saw Capt. Aldrich passing, so I rushed to the window and he waved his hat. I raised the window and asked him what was the matter? He came to the front door where I met him and he almost shook my hand off and said, “The war is over. We have Lee’s signature, with his own name signed.”

Lost Story about the Iron Priest of Poletown

More on my journey back to the neighborhood of Poletown razed for the GM plant in 1981. Found Father Joseph Karasiewicz’s grave today against terrible wind and bone-numbing chill in a deserted graveyard. Father Joe was known as the “iron priest of Poletown”, he fought to save the Immaculate Conception church with his life. He died from a broken heart 6 months after GM bulldozed his church.

After searching for an hour, I finally found his grave almost completely absorbed by the earth and forgotten. I tried my best to dig it out with my doc martins (always doc martins). I then drove home blasting Philip Glass, because I’m strange, and also, because there is no other way to listen to Philip Glass! What a dreary & cold, yet blessed day! Right!? 🙃

Letters of Mozart and his family 💕 🎵 🎶 💕

This time of year I always have a craving to read the letters of Mozart and his family. I have not finished these yet, they are perfect to leave and come back to. The cold here makes me want to be cozy under blankets for the rest of the winter and this is the perfect collection for that. Maybe it’s the family factor, maybe it’s the way Mozart talks about the cold weather in his travels, I don’t know, but I love it! Always in carriages, always at parties in grand estates. 😌

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The book of Deuteronomy

I have no authority to teach you about the books in the Bible. You might disagree with me and that’s OK. 👇👇👇

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“Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordon to posses.” -Deuteronomy 11:8

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In Deuteronomy we hear from Moses himself about the journey into the promise land. But if we take this from a symbolic viewpoint, we see that he is telling that the journey is hard even for the ‘chosen’. Hardships and sacrifices will surely come when we decide to truly follow a holy path—not perfect, but living in the Holy Spirit, recognizing God’s presence in our own being. People will try to make ‘war’ against you when you live this way, because naturally you will become a more gentle and tender person. They might not think you’re fun anymore. They may try to make you feel like you’re lame or boring because you won’t join in with the gossip or masochistic recreation (whatever that may be; little acts of hate can damage the soul). We might have to kill many relationships that are damaging in order to truly follow a new clean path and live in the Spirit—“the land that we are trying to possess”. We may have to cut ties with relationships that may be unheathly and fight against what we’re trying to obtain in a clean mind, body, and spirit. We may have to cut ties with those who fight against a new ‘us’ even if it means cutting ties with parts of ourselves.

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The Book of Numbers

*I have no authority to teach you lessons from the Bible, I only hope you will find something useful. You might disagree with my interpretation and that’s OK!

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“When you cross the Jordan in to Canaan, drive out all the inhabitants of the land before you. Destroy all their carved images and their cast idols, and demolish all their high places.” –Numbers 33:51

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OK verses such as the above are what gives God a bad rap. It sounds violent and scary and seems to advertise war. But I will tell you that you must not look at the surface for the meaning in scripture, people that do often miss the truth and can interpret wrongly. Go deeper and this verse takes on a different shape entirely: Before your spirit can settle in peace with God and with yourself, drive out all things that are holding you back from a true and pure existence—all that you consider an ‘idol’ should be destroyed. For me, for a long time, my ‘idol’ getting traditionally published. I prayed and prayed for this to happen. But it wasn’t until I read this verse and saw my own folly in holding that goal on a pedestal of importance over many other things, and asking myself exactly WHY I wanted my books out there (was it for selfish reasons, or was my goal to help people?), that I was able to give up the idea and decide instead to be happy no matter what happened to all my books, poems, essays and dedicate my writing to the purpose of GOOD. Once I did this I found a publisher. Call that whatever you like, but I know where this gift came from. Have faith and hope that God will show you the way, but we must be patient and trust Him with all our hearts. That’s what I think anyway.

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For the Bride: Today is our Wedding Anniversary

For The Bride: A scrapbook for brides from 1920’s. My mother gave me this as a sort of joke on my anniversary one year along with a book called, The Silent Hostess, also another inside joke. .

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My husband and I were married 14 years ago today. I was 22 years old. It was 70 degrees in Michigan, and the leaves were still brilliantly colored on all the trees. We were indeed blessed. It was before everyone got really creative with wedding pics. Ours are very standard and professionally posed. Nothing fancy like people all jumping at the same time or pictures of shoes and rings, etc. Some details I remember: Our photographer had been hit by a car that day and had managed to limp his way to our wedding despite this. There were ladybugs flying all over the place, got themselves caught in my veil, on my gown, in the hair of bridesmaids and groomsmen. My uncle Jack flew in from California to surprise me on this day, and my dad asked if I was nervous before he walked me down the aisle. I denied being nervous but hummed Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture because I WAS nervous (and because I’m a weirdo). I couldn’t find Bryan for most of the event, and everyone kept asking if I was pregnant. 😂 .

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Here’s to all the brides out there!

Cheers 🥂 .

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Inside the Detroit Public Library

Spent yesterday going through the archives in the Detroit Public Library’s Burton Historical Collection. What a beautiful library! It’s what I would like my personal library to look like, and what it’ll have to look like if I keep buying books! 😂 The interior is so vintage—late 1950’s, early 1960’s I’m guessing. 🥰

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