Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT July 1st 2020

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this session!

Together we closely looked at the painting Historias de Nuestros Condominios (Stories of our Condos) by Ignacio Iturria, posted below. After a brief moment of silence, during which we centered ourselves in preparation for our close viewing exercise, we all turned our focus to the painting. One participant noted how viewing the painting was like reading a book: each of the “characters” in the windows opened into a story, the painting uniting them all, allowing us to move from one narrative to the other. This participant even noted that there is a dividing line down the center of the painting, like the split between pages of a book. Another viewer was struck by the way the painting’s composition creates patterns of repetition and variation that organize all of the characters who exist in the structure. Many participants found the “mood” of the painting to be “devastating,” or “sad,” with one participant noting that they felt “sucked into a vortex of suffering” and another describing it as a “scene of destruction.” Participants also commented on the “texture” of the painting, one viewer sharing that it looked like “unfinished cement.” Another viewer was struck by the “scratches” in the paint, which almost convey the sense of a giant controlling the scene, reminding them of Foucault’s panopticon. This same viewer went on to share that the 4th wall had been removed–that there was a “element of voyeurism” in viewing the painting.

Following our close viewing of the painting, we responded to the prompt, “Write about a neighbor,” which evoked a wide array of narratives. One person recalled being welcomed to a new neighborhood with a plate of cookies that were delivered by the grandmother of a patient from nine years earlier, and we felt the surprise of reconnection. We also noticed a move from the distanced clinical language of diagnosis at the beginning to the sensory warmth of the baked goods at the end, while the nine years between the two encounters remained a black hole for us and for the clinician. Another writer also began with a woman’s physical ailment – in this case, gangrene – and then shifted to the action of daughters pinching and pruning before returning to the mother, now looking out to the sky. One participant noticed how a sad story had still managed to evoke nice memories for him personally. A third writer wrote about her neighbors Luminance and Silence, and the parallel growth in the back yard and in the mind. We remarked on the pairing of the visual (Luminance) and the aural (Silence), and how we can compare thoughts to congealed sunlight. Our last writer had a different take on silence, considering the path or paths to salvation. We were reminded of how of late the media have been telling so many stories of immigrants, but we will never know the outcome of those stories; the comment recalled an observation on the first response, about those patients whose outcomes remain a mystery to the clinicians who treat them.

Participants are warmly encouraged to share what you wrote below (“Leave a Reply”), to keep the conversation going here, bearing in mind that the blog of course is a public space where confidentiality is not assured.

Also, we would love to learn more about your experience of these sessions, so if you’re able, please take the time to fill out a follow-up survey of one to two quick questions!

Please join us for our next session Monday, July 6th at 6pm EDT, with more times listed on our Live Virtual Group Sessions page.

We look forward to seeing you again soon!

Historias de Nuestros Condominios (Stories of our Condos)
Ignacio Iturria (b. 1949, Montevideo, Uruguay)

6 thoughts on “Live Virtual Group Session: 12pm EDT July 1st 2020

  1. Patricia D.

    One night
    out of the blueness
    my meek,1950s-era neighbor
    shouted out,
    No! Don’t!
    Never having spoken with her
    Hardly ever having seen her
    I jumped out of bed,
    yanked open my front door
    and said softly,
    “Come, please come in.”
    Shy, perhaps battered
    she hesitated.
    I gently insisted.
    “Your daughter?
    Where is she?
    Call her,” I coaxed,
    “have her come too
    You will be safe here.”
    No. Yes. No. Yes
    My neighbor dialed
    the teen came
    they mirrored
    shame: his/theirs
    “Please, drink some tea.
    This is what neighbors do.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • al3793

      “You will be safe here. No. Yes. No. Yes.”
      Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes…That’s what neighbors do!
      The violence depicted in two words, No! Don’t!
      The sense of urgency and even the violence is reflected in your words, “I jumped, I yanked.”
      While enough composure prevailed to speak softly, “Come in please.”
      The story is compelling and the crafting so neat.


  2. Intimate Strangers: Two Feet So Far Away

    I watched you every day
    in everyway
    so far away

    so far away

    far away we
    were distant
    long before
    social distancing

    two feet – think about it
    we know how to
    two feet
    2ft under
    2 ft over
    2ft above
    2ft on either side
    how do we
    so far away?
    can we ever
    so far away?

    these days
    our minds
    of two feet
    so far away

    I stop
    I listen
    as you walk
    by my window

    Your breath
    floats through
    0.6096 metres x4
    -sinews exposed
    –concrete vibrates
    —insistent sonic energy
    —– clamours
    ——-with birdsongs

    a moment of simmering silence

    I stop
    I listen
    now I hear your song
    as your love song

    a song to self
    a soothing sound
    to your soul
    to remind us
    to see you
    to feel

    In that
    a snapshot
    in time
    the distance
    between us
    brief moments
    to connect

    I am reassured
    as you now
    self -care

    adieu my neighbour

    Liked by 3 people

  3. al3793

    Prompt: “Write about a neighbor.”

    “Please see this patient with me,” said the intern. “I’m worried. She’s been having headaches and she just vomited.” Upon entering the exam room, I experienced the augenblik, the blink of the eye diagnosis I had only read about, prompted by the glazed look of an eight year old girl with the increased intracranial pressure headache of a brain tumor.

    Nine years later a knock arrives on the door of our new home that bears a warm smile and a plate of equally warm, fresh-baked cookies. “I’m your neighbor across the street. I’m sure you don’t remember me.” Interrupting immediately, I replied, “I sure do remember you and I will never forget your Granddaughter.


    Liked by 2 people

  4. michele348

    A neighbor~~~

    Growing up in a small town, everyone knew everyone. We had all the essentials located in our little community: grocery, bakery, restaurant, and a toy and candy store. The candy store, obviously, was the favorite spot for all the neighborhood children, including me. We spent our pennies and nickels on our favorite goodies like fireballs and bubblegum.

    The store’s backyard abutted my family’s backyard so I made several trips there. An older single lady, Lucy, was the sole owner of the store and lived in the second-floor apartment above her store. She was a woman of very few words, always having an eye out for any child who might be taking “free” samples.

    Years passed by and I grew up and had little need to visit the little candy store. Word came one day that, during one night, someone had burglarized the store, and Lucy was found dead. No suspect was ever identified by the police.

    Although I didn’t personally know Lucy, she was part of my early childhood years, a part of my memories and so I felt the loss of her life.
    Rest in peace, Lucy, rest in peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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