Thursday, February 26, 2009

My First Day on the Job! Photography Examiner for New York City

My First Day on the Job! Photography Examiner for New York City
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

My First Day on the Job!
February 26, 2009, New York City:

Hello Fellow New Yorkers!

This morning I took a quiz at that asked “What Kind of Photographer Are You?”

Although I’ve been an avid New York City street photographer for almost five years now, today I begin my job as the Photography Examiner for New York, for the Hence, I was eager to see if the quiz agreed with me and my new avocation.

I’m happy to report that the results indicate that I'd be happiest being a "Photo Journalist,” explaining “You are never happier than when you are in the thick of humanity and documenting all of it. You like to observe the world around you. You sometimes shoot at chaotic moments and love it.”

I couldn’t agree more and thus I hereby present my credentials to you below and look forward to bringing to you what’s up, what’s new and what’s notable in the world of photography in New York City!

If you have any photography news leads and stories (about yourself, about others) please write me at I look forward to hearing from you.

If you are interested in taking the photography quiz at, click on the following:
What Kind of Photographer Are You?

Tonight I’m attending a photography art opening at the Daneyal Mahmood Gallery in Chelsea. DM is presenting Oil Evolution by Andrei Molodkin, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth.

I’m hoping to have a good story to present to you tomorrow.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happiness, Falling From The Sky

Happiness, Falling From The Sky
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

1. From Mud to Men 033, 2. From Mud to Men 001, 3. From Mud to Men 026, 4. Mude Mites (One for Rusty Rabbit), 5. The Mud Mites, 6. From Mud to Men 040


New York City, NY February 24, 2009 — Backyard, San Jose, CA, circa 1975:

There's been a lot of ballyhoo lately over the little-film-that-could from Bollywood.

Ever since Slumdog Millionaire won eight Oscars, including Best Picture, two nights ago, the media has had a field day with this rags-to-riches story of many levels.

For not only does the movie tell the tale of a boy who makes it out of the slums by ultimately beating a conniving game show host at his own game, but the film was also made on a “shoestring” budget—a mere $13 million, a tenth of the cost of its cinematic rival "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

Whether or not the movie actually merits these coveted gold statuettes may be debated for some time to come. Personally, I thought the movie was “okay.” However, I found the real-life story of how it was made with real people, who live in real squalor, much more intriguing.

I hope with the spurt of media coverage on the impoverished areas where the movie was filmed that people in Western society will get some insight into how a lot of the world lives, and in turn realize how lucky we have it, despite our current maelstrom of economic worries and woes.

This morning, I read a version of an article that the Metro picked up off the wire from AP. The excerpt is titled “The Oscar goes to…India” and is pared down to a cheery summary, ending with a quote from one of the neighbors of the child stars. As he watched his little friend strut the red carpet on a television set that was being shared in a dirt yard with a dozen other people, Sohail Qureshi told a reporter “It seems like happiness is falling from the sky.”

I was touched by this expression of genuine glee and in a moment of make-believe, it made me feel that all of a sudden a whole country was happy for one of its own.

Or at least, that’s what the media would make us believe. For if you read the whole story below, you’ll see that the real picture is a bit gloomier. Following is an excerpt:

“If the Oscar excitement brought a sheen of glamour to the community, it vanished Monday shortly after the final award was announced.

The journalists left, the dancing stopped and life pressed on as always. The sweatshop men hunched over humming sewing machines. Squatting children relieved themselves by the train tracks. Mothers washed their dishes in murky water.

"I am poor," Fakrunissa Sheikh, 40, said inside her lean-to next to Azhar's.

About 65 million Indians -- roughly a quarter of the urban population -- live in slums, according to government surveys. Health care is often nonexistent, child labour is rampant and inescapable poverty forms the backdrop of everyday life.”


That said, I still think there is something to be said about the revelry amidst the ruins.

Like I’ve written elsewhere (see Pocket Change: Let’s Start A Revolution), once pulled out of poverty, studies have shown that it doesn’t make a difference if you’ve got $100,000 or $100 million, because ultimately happiness is determined by making the most of what you’ve got; it is a matter of attitude and gratitude, not simply means.

Thus, even though these people face poverty that many of us will never know, somehow they found time to have fun and be happy for one of their friends, regardless of their circumstances.

I grew up playing in empty dirt lots and on train tracks, the concept of the Gymboree did not even exist; I drank water from garden hoses, which we used to fill a shallow dirt hole in backyard, so that my cousins and I could roll around like swine and mud wrestle; I caught butterflies and bugs with my bare hands and kept them in old Mason jars, the lid of which I poked holes in with a number 2 lead pencil. Point is, I didn’t have much growing up, but somehow, with a little imagination, my childhood friends and I made it work, we were authentically happy, if not often overjoyed.

I’ve observed this basic principle many times over the last nine years watching my own children, who have had as much fun playing in the mud as I did 34 years ago. In fact, my two rambunctious boys seem to have much more fun with empty appliance boxes, string, and sticks than with the treasure trove of plastic Christmas and birthday gifts they have stored and largely untouched in a sprawling playroom in the basement. Their favorite game of late has been hide-and-go-seek and it honestly amazes me how they all hide in the same places over and over again, but somehow they exuberantly can play the game for hours.

Point is, when it comes to happiness, less is truly more. If you can be happy with yourself, the little you’ve got and the people you are fortunate enough to share it with, than you can be as happy as anyone else in the world.

I think the last line of the article below sums it up the best for me:
"When she comes back," Saba said, "we will have the biggest party."

Yeah Saba!

Oscar celebrations fill Mumbai's crowded slums
(From The Associated Press, Mon. Feb. 23 2009)

MUMBAI, India -- In the narrow lanes behind the Mumbai train tracks, the slum's first Oscar party turned into a raucous celebration of two hometown heroes, complete with Bollywood dance moves and squeals of joy from old friends.

Every time the big-eyed girl who calls this slum home appeared on TV, her friends gawked, beamed, shouted -- and danced.

Rubina Ali, nine, was plucked from the tin roof shack she shares with her parents and six siblings in this squalid Mumbai slum to star in "Slumdog Millionaire," the darling of this year's Academy Awards.

Her friend and neighbour, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail, 10, was also chosen for the film, and both were flown to Los Angeles to watch "Slumdog" nab eight Academy Awards, including the Oscars' highest honour for best film.

Crowds gathered around the few television sets in the slum and it took barely a minute for word of each award to spread through the slum's winding lanes.

"It seems like happiness is falling from the sky," said Sohail Qureshi, a neighbour who said he had watched Rubina grow up.

The Bandra slum could not be farther from the Hollywood glitz, stretch limousines and designer dresses of the Oscars.

Azhar lives in a lean-to made of plastic tarpaulins and mouldy blankets. Rubina's home is perched above an ocean of trash. Dirty train tracks and a clogged highway form the slum's borders.

Hordes of journalists descended on the neighbourhood Monday. TV tripods straddled the thin stream of sewage outside Rubina's home while rows of satellite trucks idled outside a usually sleepy tea stall.

"Normally, no one talks to us and no one comes here, but now everyone is here," Mohammed Ismail, Azhar's father, said before a bouquet of flashing bulbs.

If the Oscar excitement brought a sheen of glamour to the community, it vanished Monday shortly after the final award was announced.

The journalists left, the dancing stopped and life pressed on as always. The sweatshop men hunched over humming sewing machines. Squatting children relieved themselves by the train tracks. Mothers washed their dishes in murky water.

"I am poor," Fakrunissa Sheikh, 40, said inside her lean-to next to Azhar's.

About 65 million Indians -- roughly a quarter of the urban population -- live in slums, according to government surveys. Health care is often nonexistent, child labour is rampant and inescapable poverty forms the backdrop of everyday life.

Although everyone from the local butcher to the prime minister called the Oscar coup a proud day for the country, "Slumdog Millionaire" was hardly a phenomenon with Indian audiences.

"Hit in the West, flop in the East," read a front page headline in DNA's Sunday newspaper. The film was a tough sell in Indian movie theatres because it was largely in English, featured few giant stars, and skimped on the dance numbers.

Many people here also objected to its gritty portrayal of India, as well as its title, which some took as derogatory. The film sparked protests in Mumbai and at least one north Indian city by slum residents who said the movie demeaned the poor.

"No one can call me a dog," Sheikh said Monday. "I work very hard."

A widow and mother of seven, Sheikh is a housekeeper who said she earns 600 rupees (US$15) a week.

She said the movie has been good for the families of Azhar and Rubina, but that her days are as difficult as ever.

"Look at my house," she said, pointing to the walls made of rags and the mud floor covered with a thin plastic tarp. "What has changed?"

The "Slumdog" filmmakers said they wrestled with the complications of working with children from impoverished families. Danny Boyle -- who won the Oscar for best director -- and producer Christian Colson decided to help Azhar and Rubina by securing them spots in Aseema, a nonprofit, English-language school in Mumbai.

Rubina's parents were thrilled with Boyle and his team.

"Whatever a parent could have done, they have done much more than that," Rafiq Qureshi said during the run-up to the awards.

Neighbours said they were nothing but happy for the child actors.

"It's Rubina's fate," said Mohammed Muzzammil, 22. "We don't want anything from her success."

Rubina's best friend Saba Qureshi wants something, however -- lots of stories and pictures from Los Angeles.

"My eyes couldn't believe that I was seeing Rubina in America," said Saba, who led her sisters in Bollywood dance numbers throughout the morning. "She looked like an angel."

"When she comes back," Saba said, "we will have the biggest party."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Opening The Big Black Box: Being Inspired by Worm Carnivale

Opening The Big Black Box: Being Inspired by Worm Carnivale
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Lately, I’ve felt as if I’ve been stuck in a big black box.

Last night, that box opened up a little for me.

For I went to visit Worm Carnevale, a 26 year old photographer who now lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, after recently migrating here from Delray Beach, Florida six months ago.

For a few hours, we talked about why and how he got to be here in The Big Apple.

Overall, his enthusiasm reminded me of my own journey here to New York City 15 years ago, when I was 26 myself.

I too had that certain twinkle in my eye, and often felt high, if only because I was living in New York City.

I too was fired up to make a fresh start.

And, I too had been motivated to make the move because I had come to the conclusion that there is more to life than simply making money and then spending it.


Born and raised in Delray Beach, Florida in 1983, Jae Basch took on the persona of “Worm Carnivale” after being inspired to pursue his newfound passion for photography when he was at a local party and started flipping through Heaven to Hell, a book of photographs by David LaChaplle, a fashion, advertising, and fine art photographer and filmmaker who is well known for his gritty, surreal, and often humorous work.

“Yeah man, I was looking through this book and I was completely blown away by how much LaChaplle’s style mimicked those dreams I had been having since I was a child. That’s when it occurred to me that this was my next step in life, this is what I had to do.”

Worm explained that he had been working in commercial real estate for five years and had grown tired of the empty feeling he was left with at the end of the day. “For a while the money was great and I was living large, but there was still something missing, because I wasn’t being fulfilled. Then a year and half ago the market took a turn, real estate started to tank and I was prompted to ask myself ‘What next?’ That’s when God spoke to me as I was peeling through Heaven to Hell. That’s when I knew I was destined to become a photographer.”

Shortly after his epiphany he made the decision to just jump right into it. “Two weeks later I began to buy photo equipment. I had no clue what to do, so I just started doing it—learning by trial and error, internet research, and picking everybody’s brain.”

300 photo shoots and a year and a half later he found himself here in Brooklyn, a bohemian artist making the most of his youth, exuberance and homegrown values like hard work and dedication.

“I’m proud of my Italian heritage. I grew up in a loving household of all women, my mother and my sisters. Our mother and my grandfather, Bob Carnevale, both instilled deeply religious and sound morals, and a love for our family that involved pasta and big meals every Sunday. They also instilled the belief that one should be open-minded. Maybe that’s why I haven’t exactly followed the beaten path.”

To get to New York, Worm had to first drop out of high school and eventually go back to school at a community college to get his high school diploma. He initially left high school because he found that he liked working, writing graphic design code for a company, far more than he liked studying.

He was so successful at programming that he was lured over to a client real estate company to write code and be their tech support guru. After a year or so of fortifying their technology it was suggested that he could make more money applying his talent to the business side of the company.

“I did end up making more money, but once again, at the end of the day I just wasn’t fulfilled. So, now here I am, living day by day, penny by penny, just making enough to barely pay the bills, but at the same time I’m far more fulfilled than I have ever been before.”


Reinforcing this truism, I happened to read an article this morning on, about a couple who have hit hard times in Florida, forcing the wife to move away in search of work. As a result, she was reminded of all the truly important things in life, including the fact that money mongering was not one of them.

At one point she was making $95,000 a year, but then she was laid off. This led to depression and tension with her husband. Eventually, she decided to seek work, alone, 1200 miles away.

So, “she paid $250 in cash for a 1991 Nissan and moved into a utilities-included apartment, where she slept at first on an air-mattress with borrowed sheets. She combed through the free furniture listings on Craigslist, and scoured Goodwill and cheaper outlets for good deals. She found a couch and chair for $25, and artwork for $7.

‘You have to be at the bottom to find out what your strengths are,’ she says of her resourcefulness. ‘Pure determination got me here, and I'm really proud of it, too.’"

(Long distance love and life lessons,, February 12, 2009)


Throughout our conversation Worm liked to support his thoughts with quotes from people who inspired him like Martin Scorsese, who he had once heard advocate the importance of shameless self promotion, especially when you’re just starting out.

Worm also told me about a popular quote from Jim Jarmusch that inspired him, “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination...And don ’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.’”

However, the quote that most inspired me, and that opened up the big black box I’ve been stuck in, was from the late and great comedian, George Carlin, whose irreverent words of wisdom have long enlightened millions, if only by e-mail.

Worm told me that he was most inspired when he read that George had said “The key to my success is that I never stopped working,” that is, at least until his heart stop working on June 22 last year, when he died of heart failure, leaving this world to join that big comedy club in the sky.

Until that fateful moment, he had had a prolific 50-year career on earth that testified to his work ethic—one which included 130 Tonight Show appearances, 23 albums, 14 HBO specials, three books, and one Supreme Court case. (For more information read, George Carlin’s Last Interview, Psychology Today, June 23, 2008).

Like Worm, George too was a high school drop out, but somehow, despite not following the prescribed path, he ended up being one of the most influential stand-up comedians of the last fifty years.

Listening to the genuine enthusiasm in Worm’s voice as he spoke about who and what have inspired him, piqued me in such a way that I suddenly felt as my black cloud was lifting; as if the big black box I've been brooding in suddenly opened and let a little light in.

For I was reminded of my own work ethic, one that likewise has compelled me to create incessantly, to write hundreds of essays and a million pieces of verse over the last ten years, as well as take and edit over 28,000 photos over the last three years.

Thus, I suddenly realized that my woes were grounded in my recent spat of apathy.

With the onset of winter and the completion of my first solo show and the publication of a number of books, I simply stopped taking pictures and wrote very little as well in turn. As a result, I’ve felt sad more often than usual the last couple of months, and thus I’ve done little to hone my understanding of the art of happiness.

But then, being inherently restless as I am, after this grave hiatus I began to think “What next?” That’s when I got the idea of creating portraits of fellow aspiring artists and posted an ad online. And that’s what brought me to a small hole of a room at the edge of Brooklyn last night, so that I could have a conversation with Worm.


I suppose than, that it is no wonder that I noticed that there was more sunshine than usual streaming through my bedroom window this morning.

Perhaps it is a sign that things will always get better, if only we keep trying, or rather, if we only keep working without worrying about who or what or when will come our next source of inspiration.

Because last night I was reminded why it is important to just do itfor it shall come.

"Inspiration is for amateurs. I just get to work."
Chuck Close

Check out Worm Carnevale’s work at

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Happy Birthday Abe!
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Abraham Lincoln

Abe was born on this day, February 12, in 1809 in a humble, one-room log cabin in southeast Hardin County, Kentucky. Americans will be honoring their 16th president this coming Monday on President’s Day, which commemorates both Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthdays.

Notably, President Lincoln‘s humble origins have long served as anecdotal evidence that anyone can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, regardless of circumstance, and make something of themselves.

Apart from having parents who were uneducated farmers, his family lost their home when he was seven, and his mother died when he was nine. After a few other moves and harsh winters, Abe finally decided to strike out on his own at the age of 22, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem. Later that year, he was hired to take goods to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Along this journey into adulthood, Lincoln had all but 18 months of formal schooling, and he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. With great political aspirations in mind, he eventually taught himself law and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1837 at the age of 28. He went on to serve four terms in the state legislature and one term in the U.S. House of Representatives before he was elected President of the United States in 1860.

Much like President Obama is attempting to do today, ultimately Lincoln successfully led the country through one of its greatest internal crises, the American Civil War, successfully preserving the Union and ending slavery.

Thus, today, perhaps it is no mystery that Barack Obama has consciously chosen to follow in Lincoln’s footsteps every step of the way, ensuring that that Americans understand that he is honoring and hopefully building upon the strength and accomplishments of one of this country’s greatest leaders. (For more on this see Obama looks to Lincoln while launching presidency, AP, 2/12/09)

Alas, as the Civil War drew to a close, Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 and became one of America’s first martyrs in the name of freedom and equality of all men.

"I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal."
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln edited by Roy P. Basler, Volume II, "Speech at Chicago, Illinois" (July 10, 1858), p. 502.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

You’re So Damn(ed) Sensitive!

Wearing A Heart of Thorns
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate
Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here
Dante Alighieri, The Inferno, Canto III, line 9

You’re So Damn(ed) Sensitive!
New York City, February 4, 2009:

Why do we become more sensitive as we delve deeper into love?

I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately because I wanted to understand the human inclination to get angry, jealous or annoyed with those we love, more so than those we merely like.

I find it particularly unsettling whenever I react negatively or emotionally to a joke that someone I love makes, one which once would have made me laugh, but now only piques me the wrong way. In my head, I know it is “only a joke,” but in my heart it feels heavier somehow.

What bothers me even more about my reaction is that I know very well that the same joke told by someone else I may merely like, might actually make me like that person even more.

While contemplating this phenomenon, it occurred to me why we tend to err in ways that seem contrary to what they should be. For I realized that once we learn to love someone dearly and deeply we also tend to host hopes of a future with them, and thus we invest our feelings, time, resources, creativity, thoughts, hope and dreams in them. As a result, we endow our relationship with meaning; we make our relationship more meaningful and more valuable with the investment of all these things. In turn, the smallest things begin to mean a lot more than they would otherwise mean with others less significant to us.

We get so wrapped up in our willingness to place all our eggs in one basket, that if an egg cracks or even moves slightly, we sometimes become alarmed that our ideal gathering of life and love into one person is being changed or challenged in a way that disturbs our status quo of sentiment somehow.

In comparison, when we deal with colleagues, distant relatives, good friends we barely see, or people we are merely dating and “trying out for size,” we are less likely to be riled by the small stuff, we brush off the pieces of lint and immediately forget about the fluff, because we know that our interactions are infrequent enough and our investment in them so insignificant that their potentially offensive opinions, thoughts, words and actions mean a lot less to us than those we’ve chosen to love completely.

It is quite amusing to think that ideally we should be giving our loved ones the most leeway instead, that we should let them make us laugh more than others, especially since, quite often, this is one of the very reasons we often come to love them so much in the first place.

Alas, there is no real logic to love, for love does not abide by the rules of reason. For as much as we sincerely want those we love to be free and uninhibited to be who they are, true love is also unreasonable and possessive—and it wants everything to be and remain as perfect as we have come to see them.

Love demands perfection especially when you’ve decided to give it your all; especially when you’ve made sacrifices that you wouldn’t otherwise make for others; especially when you envision a future with this person.

Hence, the quips and quirks of falling in love tend to become the barbs and brambles of the relationship over time. Hence, little jokes prick like thorns sometimes, even if they weren’t meant to, even if a year ago the gibe and attention would have made you feel more wanted somehow.

Alas, love is stupid that way.

Yet, in a very beautiful way, it is also much smarter than reason will ever be.

Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connait point.
Love has its reasons, which reason cannot understand.

Blaise Pascal

Monday, February 2, 2009

Where They Would Like To Go— Together

Breaking The Rules
Originally uploaded by lorenzodom

This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to retreat for a day each with two good friends on separate occasions. Both times turned out to be delightful chances to share, explore and understand the nature of relationships, especially as they pertain to romantic relationships between men and women.


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of going hiking in the Harriman State Park with Staci Jon and Nikki. It was a cool 40 degrees when we began our ascent into the snow-covered mountains at ten AM. We hiked for a few hours till we reached the summit at Sunset Lake, which was one long sheet of ice. We then sat for a while to eat lunch while overlooking this magically giant ice-skating rink before we headed back to civilization.

During our hike we talked about and examined a vast array of topics about love, life, and human nature including:

How men and women communicate differently
Why women tend to like older men
What it means to be happy, especially as we get older and face the social
pressures of “success”
What it is like to have children and how parenting changes your life, for better and for worse
The importance of instilling values in children and the process by which they ultimately become who they are, and…
What do we really want from life, especially when we dream about being bold enough to bow out of the rat race, once and for all.

It was an intriguing day of exercise for the heart, body, mind and soul, to say the least.


On the previous day, Saturday, I had taken a train from Grand Central Station, in the heart of New York City, to New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale University.

I was paying a visit to my fey friend, Adwa, who kindly picked me up at the station when I arrived at noon. From there we spent the day together catching up and reminiscing about our special friendship, one that has only existed for a couple of years, but one that we both believe feels like we’ve been friends forever.

We started out at a local deli where I had a cup of coffee while she checked her e-mail. At one point we got to perusing through my most recent picture posts, whereby I updated her on life with my boys and my budding romance with Chelsea.

For a late lunch-into dinner we went to (Frank) Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana on Wooster Street in Little Italy, where we shared an incredibly scrumptious Original Tomato Pie with Mozzarella, complemented by a couple of glasses of draft Little Falls Ale. We sat there at a table made for two in the corner of this popular restaurant smiling in gastronomical ecstasy for over an hour, while hordes of extended families likewise ate and laughed all around us.

We ended this wonderful day by going to Adwa’s favorite book store and café, Atticus on Chapel Street, where we shared a cup of Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso and two truffles—one Passion Fruit and the other Bourbon Pecan.

Recently, I had developed an interest in the work of Anaïs Nin, so I picked up her book of erotica, Delta of Venus, and brought it to the counter where we were eating to read. I spontaneously read a bit to Adwa, discreetly whispering excerpts, while we sipped and noshed at bits of soft and hard chocolate.

I read a few paragraphs from the part where Leila took Bijou horseback riding in the Bois. It suddenly became exceedingly warm in the café when Leila suggested, “Let’s take off our clothes and get on the horses together.”

Needless to say, by the time Leila and Bijou were lying on a bed of moss in the middle of the forest and there were mere smudges of cocoa crème left on our plate, we were both so riled that we needed to stop reading and venture back outside for some fresh air.


However, the most exciting and enlightening part of the day for me was when we went to the Yale University Art Gallery a few hours earlier that day.

Among the highlights was a grand, larger-than-life painting of a woman seated alone before the sea, dressed in a flowing pink gown and crown of gold.

Having recently renewed my efforts to write my first epic novel and subsequently taken up an intense study of the mythology of Muses of ancient Greece as a result, I inferred that this had to be Calliope, the muse of all muses, the muse of heroic poetry who is best known for inspiring Homer to write the Odyssey and the Iliad.

Alas, there was no identifying plaque on the wall, and my retrospective search on the gallery’s website did not reveal who she was or who painted her.

Nonetheless and allthemore, the mystery of it all was a perfect complement to the muse I was spending a whimsical day with, one who has long been one of the most intriguing and enigmatic women I have ever known.

However, the most important exhibit for me was Picasso and the Allure of Language, a survey of “the relationship between art and literature, and painting and writing, in Picasso's work.”

At the farthest reaches of the exhibit I found my holy grail. Inscribed in white upon a bright red wall, there was a quote that read:

“If I begin correcting the mistakes you speak of according to the rules with no relation to me, I will lose my individuality to grammar I have not incorporated. I prefer to create myself as I see fit than to bend my words to rules that don’t belong to me.” —Pablo Picasso, 1946

As the nature and evolution of relationships seemed to be the running theme of my life lately, I immediately had an epiphany. For I came to realize that the rules that individuals play and live by (as individuals) need to subsequently be adjusted, whenever two individuals attempt to forge a romantic union of everlasting intent.

For example, after having been married for ten years, I’ve come to believe that it is vital for married couples to create their own holiday traditions together overtime, if they want the marriage to last.

Holidays tend to be held in high regard, set high expectations, and often reunite family and close friends after substantial periods of being apart. As a consequence, these are times when emotions run high and thus it is no surprise that the holidays tend to have the highest crime rates, which tend to be primarily domestic disputes.

Thus, when couples brace for and face the holidays together, I’ve concluded that it behooves them to try and balance things out by proactively forging new traditions together, ones which may require that they combine and relinquish some of those traditions that each of them have held since childhood.

Picasso’s quote took this idea-ideal a step further for me, because I began to think that if two individuals care to forge a solid long-term relationship, there’s an even more important change that needs to be made than the slash-and-burn, Phoenixing transition of long-held and cherished holiday traditions.

For if you want to make a relationship work, each individual needs to apply this revisionary-revolutionary process to their daily rules, those values that determine who they are, how they act and how they perceive the world and life around them.

It is vital to see that as couples grow together they need to communicate openly about the how, whys and wherefores of their values, words and actions. In other words, each person not only needs to know where the other is “coming from,” that is what are the rules that govern how they live, but both of them also need to be willing to change and or let go of some of their core values, so that they can go forward together as a couple and make rules that they can live by, together.

And albeit, it may seem that the idea of making one’s own rules together as a couple is common sense, it is certainly much easier said than done. Because in reality, it requires a concerted effort by both partners, as well as consistent, candid and clear communication that confirms that each person is willing to break away from their old individual rules, traditions, and habits, and to go forward with new co-mingled values that they can live by together as a couple.

Moreover, couples also need to occasionally share their individual life experiences, so that they have a better understanding of where each person is coming from, and more importantly, where they would like to gotogether.