Thursday, December 25, 2008
One of my favorite columnists, Al Martinez of the LA Times has coined a phrase in describing what happens to people caught during times of shared difficulties; We huddle together in bad times, he writes. The spirits snuggle.
I love the descriptive aptness of that phrase, the spirits snuggle. It conjures up images of sleeping puppies, all cuddly and tossed together in soft furry heaps of companionship and warmth. Sometimes, we all just need to feel one another's heart beat. A reminder of our shared humanity, that we reach out to each other with hope, comfort and kindness because without it, there is nothing.
I wish you all the joys of the season. I wish you love and laughter and a cherished memory or two to hold close in the flickering of the candlelight. Most of all I wish you peace, from the bottom of my heart. Happy holidays to you all. May your spirits snuggle.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
We were sitting at the bar waiting for our table to open up in the dining room. Turk had talked me into going out to dinner in spite of my reluctance ~ frankly, I am not at all happy with the creeping frumpiness of my appearance. I just want to stay home and hide.
I know. I should be bigger than this. I'm not. I shouldn't care, but I do. I'm supposed to love myself and embrace the older, wiser, more beautiful goddess within. I really can't.
I am, if anything, annoyed with her. It was never my intention to live long enough to look this old in the first place. While all my friends were busy becoming doctors, lawyers and engineers I was working on my 10 year plan to live hard, die young and leave a beautiful corpse. Typically, in this, as in so many things, I failed to apply myself and wound up here, in a nondescript middle age, dealing with this frumpiness, this encroaching Elmer Fuddliness. Fat, furrowed and befuddled am I.
The girls came up to give their pitch regarding the exemplary qualities of Jagermeister. They laughed good-naturedly when Turk, clearly dazzled by such bodacious attention, claimed to be a German prince in exile, pining away for Jager, the milk of his youth. They were really very sweet. Then, leaving us with a smile and the gift of an orange paper-flower lei, they were moving on toward the next customer when suddenly they turned back and one girl exclaimed, "We just have to tell you how pretty you are!" Her friend nodded, beaming.
And so help me Aphrodite, just for a while I felt lighter.
See what I mean? Angels.
My angels carry shot glasses. Like I always knew they would.
Friday, December 05, 2008
I found this one at Girlyshoes and had to do it because I feel the need to prove that I'm not as dumb as my cartoon looks. I have too read stuff! Just, you know, not a lot of stuff on the list. Also, I don't actually remember all the stuff that I did read, not to mention...
Wait, what was this about again? Oh, yeah ~ me is sure smart! For a toon.
1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling. That's right; I'm the one.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - J D Salinger
19. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis (See 33.)
37. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50. Atonement - Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52. Dune - Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72. Dracula - Bram Stoker
73.The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses - James Joyce
76. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal - Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession - AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens. Enjoyed it, but loved what Mr. Magoo did with the role of Scrooge in the film version.
82. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom Seriously. Never.
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94. Watership Down - Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Sunday, November 30, 2008
The next morning when we arrived at the tiny airport and stood before our plane I actually laughed out loud. Suddenly, I understood the 15 kilo weight limit on luggage. And wished I'd skipped breakfast.
As we climbed aboard the 18 seater we were graciously welcomed by one of the most stunningly beautiful flight attendants I have ever seen in my life. As it turned out, every flight attendant on a Greek airline was female, friendly and absolutely breathtaking.
"I'd like to be the guy who does the hiring for this job," remarked Turk. I couldn't blame him. The requirements for this position must start with a goddess gene in the DNA sequence. In fact, one of the things one can't help notice of is how strikingly attractive the Greeks are as a people ~ young men and women stride the plakas and plazas with the casual insouciance of youth and a beauty that is a pleasure to behold and a tribute to the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle. Aphrodite and Adonis are not just mythology here ~ they're riding vespas and smoking Santes'. I silently regret my own luppen and questionable ancestry.
If Mykonos is an amiable Hedonist, welcoming with open arms the weary voyager and Santorini a winsome, pastel-drenched fantasy carved into the land by fey but determined cave dwellers with a surprisingly sunny aesthetic, the architecture of Rodos embodies a heavier, masculine and somewhat more conflicted history, for all it's inherent beauty. Located at an intersection between East and West, it is an island molded by commerce and conflict as over the centuries knights, Turks and Italians have fought for and controlled the island. All have left their mark and their stories. We stayed within the walled fortress of Old Town for 4 fascinating days and rarely felt the need to leave this thriving city.
To stay in the Old Town is to have one foot in the modern world of cellphones and cycles, nightclubs and credit cards, and the other in the shadows of its very present medieval past.
Upon our arrival we followed the cab driver's instructions through the massive fortress gate and, turning onto the main square, found ourselves in the midst of another bazaar, an explosion of color, sight and sound. As we pulled our cases behind us, searching for the tiny alleyway that held our hotel, taverna hosts beckoned passersby to their tables and shopkeepers into their stores, as travelers fingered fabrics of blue and gold and tentatively inquired about price. It was a moment of timelessness, that feeling that this plaza, this market, this moment has existed just so for hundreds of years ~ travelers arrive, open-mouthed with awe and delight, hawkers flog their wares, children play, money changes hands, life goes on. To experience it is to be conscious of one's own transient role in a continuous flow of humanity. It is marvelous.
We stayed in a charming, traditional hotel perfectly located in a quiet lane just off the main square. Our hostess, 'Irina' was the sole proprietor of the establishment and had done much of the massive restoration on her own. Staying with Irina is a lot like staying with family, in this case, your kind, energetic and slightly bossy aunt ~ the breakfasts are homemade and generous, the wine flows freely. But do not forget to lock up after yourself at night or, as I did, leave your key in the lock inside your room when you come down for coffee. Locksmiths will be called. Irina will be sternly disappointed but forgiving. And you will not do it again.
This being Greece, the gods of the ancient are represented in the ruins and archaeological museums of the town, as well as the religion of the conquering Turks. We did take an afternoon trip out to lovely Lindos to visit the Temple of Athena. Our cab driver/tour guide (they call me George the American!) proved to be an entertaining and colorful companion ~ twice decorated in the Korean War, he was featured on the cover of Time Magazine for his heroism as a soldier. He returned to Rodos, the island of his birth because his wife pined for her home and family here and because her doctor insisted it was the only way to relieve her sadness. She has been happy now for over 30 years. So, I believe, has George.
But it is The Knights of St John who dominate the landscape and the imagination within the fortress walls, heavy with the trappings of a very muscular mysticism and might.
On a whim, after strolling Mandraki Harbor and seeing the many sightseeing boats offering passage, we boarded the King Sauron ferry for a sail to Marmaris, Turkey, feeling rather intrepid and Ernest Hemingway about ourselves.
I don't really know what I expected; after being warned off by our new friends, a couple from Dundee, Scotland who we met staying at 'Auntie' Irina's, I was picturing something just slightly more civilized than the Black Hole of Calcutta, full of thieves and beggars and shifty-eyed men of dubious intent.
What we found was a relaxed and westernized resort town, one of the most beautiful harbors I've ever seen, and some of the warmest, friendliest, most courteous people I've ever had the pleasure to meet. In this one brief encounter, I found myself so loving this place and touched by these people, of whom I had previously been suspect that I was ashamed of myself. It was as though a film had been lifted from my eyes. If there is one thing I will take away from this entire trip it is that ~ that when we let our prejudices and fears dictate our actions we limit our universe and deprive ourselves of the all the wonder therein. An open mind is gloriously selfish thing. It is a key to universal treasure.
I wouldn't have missed it for the world.
We returned to Rodos just in time for sunset. And happy hour in the square.