Kabuki actors dancing not so gracefully.
Musings of a female, recently arrived exhilarated, at the big 6-0 with renewed energy, passion, style, zest seeking my best self from new experiences outside my comfort zone ... an occasional martini (up, three olives) in hand!
A few weeks before my travels to meet Charlie in South Africa I dared to commit to a pre-paid elephant safari. In the bush. Bareback.
The bonus of an aging mind and faded memories. Not intimidated one iota by the eight inch scar running from stem to stern. Forty five autumns later, a whiter shade of pale. No more bikinis. Or a tawny, suntanned tummy. Unless you count the topless beaches in France (another story, peut être). Ruptured spleen.
Involved: Galloping double bareback with my school friend, Libba. A skittish mare. Handsome teen age boys. A train crossing on a country road. And yes, you guess it, poor timing. Recipe for disaster. Cantered right past a RR crossing. Gates descending. Clanging bells. Lights flashing crimson. A maniacal freight train bellowing black steam roaring past. Horse shied. We tumbled to the gravelly pavement. Woke up in the ambulance. The horror now as faded as the white stripe.
Slowly the craft drifted straight up. Not unlike a helicopter. The rolling meadows and wine lands spread out below us like a Van Gogh. Streaks of mad-driven pigments spread furiously. Attached to the canvas by the putty knife. In splotches. Multi-hued. Vibrant.
I clutched the rod in the corner of the basket. My heart rate slowed a bit. Down below a miniature red fox darted through a hedge followed by hounds and horses carrying men in red coats and white jodhpurs. It was amazing. Floating just under 1000 feet with the birds. Flying really. Up up and away.
In what seemed to be an instant we were being instructed as to how to land without injury. I unlocked my knees, bent them and braced myself for a hard landing in a farm yard. Geese squawked, chickens ruffled their feathers, a dog barked wildly as the pigs continued to chew on the corn cobs littering their sty oblivious.
Next we bumped the ground bouncing. Skidded to a halt. The balloon flapped as the air was released. I unclenched my teeth and kissed the pole. Nonchalantly strolled over to the wicker gate being unlatched by what appeared to be leather bands. Relieved that this flimsy contraption had ensconced us safely during our 75 minute flight. I descended from the Pier One basket shakily. Grateful to be on earth.
We toasted our adventure with Etoile, the most sublime sparkling wine from nearby Domaine Chandon. Crisp and tart. Lovely. It washed away my jitters and restored calm. One should always have a flute of bubbly before lunch.
Even transported to South American where this trepid soul has not yet adventured. The Aussie wallabies downunder have yet to amble by to share some cheer and ramblings from this fork in the road. But are most welcome.
Interestingly, nearly every traveler outside the U. S. lives near the sea. Lusty breezes luring you to my coastal home.
This plan of mine. My journey through my sixtieth year continues to evolve. Expanded. Embracing new opportunities, destinations, convivants.
C'mon, cosmic dealer, hit me again. Make it a good one. And keep me on this roll. To fate!
We'll skip the attitude one for now. That is way overdue. And is by my account the real culprit. Not enough energy to tackle that issue on this gorgeous sunny morning on the southern coast of Maine. Save that topic for later. Not.
No. I'm talking about getting planet earth to a chiropractor. And not just any ol' one will do. I am referring to an honest to god, god of chiropractic medicine. A DC. We have a subluxation dysfunction going on here.
Question to self: What's with all that jargon? D. C. = District of Columbia. The primo topic I am steering clear of on this mild spring day. I see a stroll on the beach in my very near future. If I can publish this post in the next 30 minutes. Not in the least on point.
The one whose office is equipped with the requisite ergo-dynamically designed leather upholstered table. You know the one I mean. Yes that one. The original one. The one that does a full tilt to 180° so you can hobble in folded over like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame, painfully pull your screeching with pain self over to the smiling man behind the screen, align yourself with the fully vertical wall. And, with the flip of a crank be lowered into position. Might even work for other things! You know what I am saying. Right? But hey, this is PG rated day for god's sake. My neighbors three children are playing frisbee across the street.
So where was I? Oh yes. In the first four months of 2010 840 quakes have been registered around the globe. Eight hundred and forty with magnitudes greater than 5. We know the big ones. But knowing the others makes me a bit more than nervous. Major activity recorded all over: Japan, Chile, Haiti, Southern California, Mexico's Baja Peninsula. And to wreak more havoc with my nerves, it was announced this week that New England is on a major, kinda inactive fault line. And, we're due. Scary.
Plus there are nine active volcanoes. All at the same time. Four in Russia. One of which erupted this week sending a 22,000 foot plume of ash into the skies. Not that I'd ever book a trip on Aeroflot. One in Hawaii. Another on Montserrat off the coast of South America. Indonesia. An island in the South Pacific. And we all know about the one in Iceland.
Earth to Alice. Come in, please. I get it. The message is loud and clear. Mother Nature has her panties in a wad. Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.
Glad I prefer my martinis shaken, not stirred. Maybe there is a silver lining to those green-black swirling funnel clouds after all. Cheers!
Propelled by a sense of urgency. Threats to the environment. The burning Cuyahoga River. Acid rain. Napalm deforestations. We were killing our earth. The penultimate wasting asset. Our home. Our neighborhood. Decaying before our eyes.
Our idealistic ... and ironically quite logical ... Woodstock Nation sensibilities threatened. Mocked by multinational corporations, crop dusters, aging coal-fueled factories and a brand spanking new interstate highway system luring Detroit's automakers to quintuple output. Trains, buses, monorails ... public transportation infrastructure be damned.
In short, the globe's natural resources were depleting rapidly before our eyes. Acid rain poured into our rivers, our streams, our fishing habitats. Life sustaining water contaminated. Shrouds of heavy yellow smog and gritty coal particles from factories raging uncontrolled polluted the skies. We were killing the planet. One neighborhood at a time. Single-handed. Headed for hell in a handbasket.
Unconscionable trade-offs. Corporate interests v the health of our unborn children's children's children. We’re simply not going to all wake up, sing Kumbaya around a cackling camp fire and tackle these problems.
Altogether some 20 million people – 10% of the U.S. population – participated in 1970 Earth Day teach-ins, marches, and rallies across the country. Nearly half were students. I was one of them. On the Earth Day organizing committee. Lured by the promise of saving our habitat. Our planet. Hand-in-hand, but of course, with brilliant, motivated, mostly good looking (if you could imagine their fresh faces sans beards) college boys from all over the east coast. My Briarcliff suite mate, Jill Gardner, dating Larry Rockefeller got us the gig. Weekly treks to either The City (New York, of course), Philadelphia or D.C.
A happening. Inspired by the Apollo 11 moon landing the prior summer. We were energized. Propelled by the Moody Blues in their lyrical, psychedelic ode to our children's children's children born from Native American wisdom.
[© 1969 Deram/Polydor. All rights reserved.]
Three things stand out as I watched CNN in horror fifteen years ago today sitting with other moms on blue leatherette couches facing the room length picture window of an indoor tennis facility in Fairfield County Connecticut while my seven year old son was volleying in his beginner class on the other side of the glass.
1) The first thoughts racing across my screaming mind blamed a foreign, rogue nation lashing out at America's riches, ideals and freedoms.
2) In a flash, a nano-moment, our country lost whatever innocence regained over the fifty years since the end of World War II destabilizing our confidence.
3) The other shoe would surely drop. The world, my world, shaken by its roots indelibly altering the facade and ripping at its core.
A terrorist attack on American soil. Not an American territory. Not where we had interests. Piercing the heart of our country. Our values. Our pioneer sensibilities. A yellow Ryder truck, the one we use to move belongings from from our family homes to our first apartments, explosively detonating at that very moment when office workers placed steaming mugs of coffee on their desks to open the morning email. *BLAM* The entire front side of the glass and steel office building sheared off. *ZIP* In one quick motion as if it were the rind of a tangerine.
Wrong. Right. Right.
It would be six years until #1 was correct. An eye for an eye. Vengeance from these ordinarily passive, polite church going people. Dead man walking. June 11, 2001. The country watched in disgust. Oklahoma in vindication. Timothy McVeigh gazed diabolically at the camera perched above the gurney in the death chamber in Colorado where his executioners tightened the wrist and ankle straps and he glared directly into our souls haunting. Three months to the day later our worst fears realized.
A whacko revenging Waco. Undermining our complacency. The Murrah Building and the white brick YMCA across the street ripped apart by the seams. Inners exposed. Shrapnel, body parts, office furnishings, children's shoes and teddy bears buried in rubble. 168 innocents perished. Hundreds more injured. This city of nearly one million wounded gravely. The vulnerabilities of our nation exposed. Beirut comes to the heartland.
Oklahoma City. Known previously to me as a faster-than-fast drive-through. Jesus Christ Superstar blaring on the eight track. Orion's belt dimming in the pre-dawn sky. A cross-country college excursion. Once the cow town a pit-stop on the old Mother Road. Route 66 long since replaced by six lane I-40. Oil derricks silhouetted in the dark purple sky. Nary a tree in sight. One year after the bombing Charlie and I left our own shattered world in the rarefied northeast to resettle and reclaim our souls in the cross-roads of America.
So it is with a deep respect for my former neighbors on the edge of the prairie in the buckle of the Bible belt that I raise my glass in memoriam of that fateful day when the sky came tumbling down.
To the remarkable rebirth of that former dusty cowboy town into the booming metropolis that it has become ... and to its promising future held firmly in place by the strong moral fiber from which it is woven. Salut!
[Arnar Thorsson/Associated Press]
Global interruption. Movement halted dead in its tracks. Schedules emphatically delayed. Nonnegotiable. Irrevocable. No ability to engage in a dance of options and alternatives with a rogue nation. Mother Nature's very own atomic bomb spilling silica from a red-hot pimple. Oozing fire and sediment into the atmosphere. Iran and Al-Qaida silently taking claim.
Charlie and I were perplexed when we visited the magical, progressive Reykjavík in late November 2004 on our way to Scotland and a university tour. Land of the noontime moon. Sunrise at 1:30 in the afternoon. Dusk a few hours later. The Northern Lights shot psychedelic across the dark winter sky. Humored by the fact that Icelanders don’t have last names! They go by their first name followed by the name of their father. Gutrid Hansdóttir. Katrín Jakobsdóttir. And my always-in-the-swing-of-things fatherless son, Charles Alicesson, scarfed down his midday Yule smörgåsbord with gusto.
The Icelanders giggle at our confusion and momentary lapse in being know it alls. Mocking us gently. Perhaps it is their not-so-subtle attempt to fissure their financial obligations. An email is circulating cyberspace: “Put 30 billion euros in unmarked bills in a bag by the gate of the Icelandic embassy in London, and we’ll turn off the volcano.”
“Eyja” is the Icelandic word for island. “Fjalla” means mountain. “Jokull” is glacier. Simple really if we Americans knew the etymology of those Norse words.
We are stymied. English speakers don't even know where to start. How to break the name apart. Which syllables are for emphasis. Which silent. Do the consonants sound like the letter represented. Or another altogether. How do the double Ls come out sounding like a T? Jibberish. Jabberwocky. But hey, we cannot read, much less pronounce, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Mandarin, Greek, Russian or Latvian either. Icelandish. Outlandish, really.
With the NFL draft just a week away, maybe we better get cracking on teaching folks to pronounce “Ndamukong”.
I raise my icy glass of Aquavit. Cheers!
[Special thanks to New York Times for the pronunciation and translation. Note: Blog title is how the glacier is pronounced!]
Outfitted in black: slacks, Tory Burch sweater with brass signature buttons, Longchamps purse. I seem the paragon of ample accounts. But no. Not really. Just the appearance. Not the reality. Perceptions.
Italian leather portfolio. A sexy, confident lemony yellow. Laptop and files packed neatly inside giving it weight. The semblance of professional chic. On her way to a client meeting. Not. Perceptions.
1. I have visited 46 states (North Dakota, Montana, Oregon and Hawaii are still on my list), five continents (here I come South America! not so sure, Antarctica), both Iceland and Greenland and crossed most of the world's oceans. I am scheduling a fast jaunt via Amtrak from the Twin Cities across those three states in the Lower 48 I am missing. And plan to hula in Hawaii on a forthcoming trip to southeast Asia. Argentina has been a destination for most of the past five years. A milonga in Buenos Aires awaits. The frozen southern nether reaches are not in my scope quite yet. Although I did see some dwarf penguins in South Africa near the Cape of Good Hope. So you never know!
2. In my next life (I know I am coming back and that is another story), I'll be a hoofer (chorus girl, not race horse) on Broadway. Being 'on the boards' is in my soul. Something tells me in a prior life I was an ill-fated ballerina in 19th century France, or a courtesan. Not too sure. The musicality, talent and the grace has eluded me in this carnation ... but not in my dreams!
3. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved. I senselessly harbored the deepest feelings for a gentle man who could never commit. Despite nearly thirty years of hapless and countless near hookups traversing the country from the Colorado Rockies to the megalopolis on the East Coast. Life goes on.
4. My number one secret pleasure is _______. Hey, if I made it known in this public forum with all to know, then it wouldn't be mine to hide guiltily.
5. I miss my Grandma Alice more than you'd ever imagine. Sadly, I am living her life sans the glamour.
Okay. Okay. I am not a freak on the midway of life. Not yet. The carnival barker safely at bay for the time being. But it's not totally out of the realm of possibility. A slight divot here. A bit of a waver there. The scales of justice not quite level. It can go either way.
But hey ... my addled brain cannot absorb much more see-sawing. So, I am doing what any insightful woman on the edge would do. I am consulting the cards.
Nope. Not a trip to the closest casino. That would be Foxwoods in Connecticut. Nor a jaunt to Atlantic City for a romp along the cheesy navy blue Boardwalk, past seedy yellowing Marvin Gardens and gritty pale Ventnor Avenue. No peeking at the Goren Bridge For Beginners and accompanying deck, dogeared not by me but my Mom who thinks it would be another arrow in my quiver. Another skill to add to my already overflowing CV. And most definitely not the worn out pinochle deck of my grandfather's I have in the mildewing cardboard carton stored somewhere in the dark, damp dungeon that is my basement.
Have you deduced which cards? A few of you have it figured out. I have consulted them before, hesitatingly. That is why you are my friends. You get it ... and for the most part me. So without further ado ... drum roll please ... the card of the day (she says trembling omniscient with both fear and eager anticipation): The Wheel of Fortune. Da-da!
Yes, faithful readers, the wheel of fortune has begun to turn in my favor. Giving me a needed boost. My projects can now enjoy great success. Soon I will be reaping benefits. Yay. I can handle that news. A cycle is continuing and its not the spin cycle on my aging GE washer. The interpretation goes on: "Success. Unexpected luck. Happiness. Something new is emerging and will bring new and exciting energy. Opportunity. Have faith in what is happening at the moment. Divine forces at work to bring good fortune into your life. Trust in the cycle of life. Possible new money on the way."
Nouveau riche? Hell, that would be fine with me. Coins are good things. I might even flip one tomorrow.
Cheers! Let the games begin ...
Back to today. Charlie and I are in our trusty Volvo wagon heading west on Storrow Drive back to Harvard and the remaining six weeks of his college career. Senior spring. Replete with parties and papers and best of friends celebrating before they embark toward their futures shedding the last vestiges of their childhoods. Confident young men and women. Lovely. Optimistic. Innocent.
We are enjoying a few final moments before classes resume and this Mom heads back north. The route gracefully winds along side the grassy promenade swarming with bikers, joggers and lovers hand in hand in this 'feels like summer' morning. Weeping willows along the Esplanade shimmer chartreuse. Bradford Pears boast their frothy white billows next to red buds trees aflame with, well, deep pink-red blossoms. Sugar magnolias burst forth pink plumes and dogwoods sway white lacy against the pastel blue skies filled with wisps of white clouds. Spring is arriving early this year. And nowhere is more glorious than in Boston. Along the Charles. In the Commons. And especially in the Public Gardens where freshly painted swan boats glide smoothly across the glassy pond.
Cheers to your dreams ... may they carry you comfortably ... and inspire your footsteps, with love.