Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Getting Old

I read non-fiction but, on occasion, I'll prospect in fiction for nuggets of truth or wisdom. I found one today while reading a story in Harper's Magazine ("Slingshot," May 2018).

The narrator is a 70-year old woman who's describing her sexual affair with a 32-year old male neighbor. At one point, she says something that rings true:

      I went home and was surprised to find Rose there. She asked me where I had been,
      said she knew that I was spending a lot of time with that guy next door. She said,
      "He's never going to love you, you know. Have you forgotten how old you are?
      Look at all your wrinkles." That's the thing about being old. We don't know
      we have wrinkles until we see them. Old is a thing that happens outside. A thing
      other people see about us.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

An Authentic Life

A palliative nurse who's comforted many at the end of life (Bronnie Ware) wrote a book "The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying." Number one on the list of regrets? "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

Let's learn this lesson before it's too late. Are you living a life "true to yourself"?

Monday, April 23, 2018

Another Reason To Travel

Until recently, I'd never heard of Victoria, a small city on an island off the west coast of Canada. Because I know friends there, I travelled to this faraway destination. Now, I'm suddenly seeing references to Victoria everywhere.

The New York Times travel section just published a big spread on Victoria and my favorite motorcycle magazine (Rider) describes riding a motorcycle through the place.

Now that Victoria is on my radar, I'm "seeing" these articles. If I hadn't gone, they probably would have passed beneath my notice. Which is a reason to get off our butt and travel -- it opens our eyes to the world!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Victoria Mermaid

Shopping with Sheila is the equivalent of attending a master class in fashion. She knows and can teach you so much. Sheila opines on the quality of clothing. She discusses its fabric, the reputation of its brand, and its aesthetic style. Lately she's personally interested in asymmetrical pieces, which is an advanced choice.

Sheila taught me that many items have hidden statements on the label saying when the piece was made (e.g., Fall 2013). She touches clothes on the rack to assess the quality of their material. She can recognize obscure brands and tell you how they run in size (something which varies widely among brands).

I bought a dress and skirt while in Victoria. Here is the dress. It's a style I've never worn before. Pretty but a little plain so I spiced it up with a big, colorful mermaid necklace. Some may say the jewelry is too large or overwhelming for the dress but their combination expresses my personality. I'm a plain gal who likes to present herself with some flair. Personal accents make clothing and life more interesting!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Mermaid Ally

My closest friends know I have a totem, a spirit guide. An archetype that connects to me on a deep level. My totem is the mermaid.

A dear friend, Suzanne, just sent me the mermaid item shown above. It delights me. She also sent me a mermaid pin. Friends like Suzanne are precious gems: they see you for who you are and offer real support.

Tomorrow I'm going to wear a dress found shopping with Sheila in Victoria. To accent it, I'll wear a big, colorful mermaid necklace. The dress is pretty but plain; the necklace spices it up to the max. Their combination expresses me perfectly.

The first known mermaid stories appeared in Assyria around 1000 BC. Goddess Atargatis, mother of Queen Semiramis, loved a mortal man and accidentally killed him. Ashamed, Atargatis jumped into a lake and took the form of a fish -- but the waters could not conceal her divine beauty. Thereafter, she took the form of a mermaid, human above the waist and fish below.

Do you like mermaids?

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Only Way To Fly

I never thought I'd own my own private jet -- but that was before Bitcoin. Now I don't have to endure crowds, airport lines and waiting with the hoi polloi.

Just kidding! My friend Jason is a commercial pilot and today he showed me one of the places he works (Republic Airport in Farmingdale). Jason escorted me "behind the curtain" into restricted areas open only to those with visible credentials. We inspected a variety of private aircraft and had lunch. Jason is one of the coolest dudes around and knowing him has perks. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Sheila's View

Sheila did a nice blog-post on her view of our time together. It's here. Go take a look.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

More Victoria

Canadians give me hope for the future of our species. In public, they are polite and behave in civilized manner. This morning a group of teenage rugby-players in my hotel lined up at a coffee-stand. They paid attention and made sure everyone was being treated fairly. The idea of cutting the line (which would have been easy to pull off) was inconceivable to them. Such a contrast to many of my country's citizens.

Sheila is continuing to demonstrate her superior tour-guide talent. With supernatural ability, she reads my mind about what will make me happy and steers me to those places and activities. It's uncanny.

A delight of this trip is the wide range of experiences I'm having. Seeing natural beauty, encountering wildlife, visiting natural history and art exhibitions at a phenomenal museum, and socializing with a group of friendly Canadians introduced to me by my generous host. The trip is a home-run. Or, more appropriately, a hockey goal!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

First Big Trip of the Year

I'm heading out Thursday for my first big trip of the year. To a place called Vancouver Island which lies off the west coast of Canada. 

Vancouver Island is completely cut off from mainland Canada: there are no bridges or tunnels connecting it. The only ways to reach the island are seaplanes and ferries. The island is physically large but has only 800,000 inhabitants, half of which live in a city I'm visiting (Victoria). I'm told the natural beauty of the island is stunning.

As improbable as this sounds, I have two good friends who live there, Sheila and Darlene. The three of us will gather on Friday to meet and have fun. I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Cars. They're not as exciting as motorcycles but I'm learning they do have some appeal. Especially if you take them to the racetrack.

I've picked out my next car: a McLaren 570S. Its bold styling give the beast an edge to my second-choice, the Porsche 911 GTS. Both can be driven on the street and the track. In fact, I'm heading down to Atlanta later this year to drive the Porsche at their famous private racetrack. That experience comes with an instructor who teaches you how to extract maximum performance from the vehicle.

Did you know there's a distinction between "sports cars" and "super-cars"? The former are fast vehicles; the latter are limited-production jewels hand-crafted by storied manufacturers. Super-cars are beyond the reach of most drivers: their least-expensive models run around half a million bucks.

What is the world's most expensive car? Probably the Bugatti Chiron with a price-tag of $3 Million. Despite the improbability of our ever owning one, it can be fun to admire the height of automotive art. I won't bore you with stats. Bugatti says they aren't focused on mere speed, they want to deliver an enjoyable overall experience. That said, the car can hit 261 mph before a limiter turns off power. The styling of the car is quite arresting. (See picture above.) The car doesn't come with a bodyguard but I would want one; who'd park this expensive masterpiece anywhere in public?

Bugatti has sold every Chiron it plans to build until late-2021. Who buys them? The profile is very sharp: self-made men who appreciate quality and uniqueness. The average customer already owns about 30 other cars. Obviously they are not like you and me. At least not yet...

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nina Simone

I just saw a terrific documentary about one of my favorite artists, Nina Simone. The movie ("What Happened, Miss Simone?") was nominated for an Oscar and accurately portrays a complex character. (It can be seen on Netflix.)

Nina Simone (1933-2003) was classically-trained in piano and became popular for soulful songs in the 1950's. Her life, however, was troubled and her career tumultuous. I've long been attracted to Simone's rare genius -- musical artistry at its highest level. Nina communicates emotion in her music with palpable heart and soul.

Born in the segregated South, Nina grew up poor and black. She climbed to commercial popularity with the help of a tough husband who, while steering her career toward success, physically beat her. Unfortunately Nina had bipolar disorder (manic depression) which disabled her from making smart choices. She stayed with her husband for years, despite being abused.

Nina dove into the civil rights movement in the 1960's where she found personal fulfillment. She learned from and developed friendships with many famous black leaders, writers and intellectuals, like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Lorraine Hansberry. She sang at political rallies (including the famous Selma march) and wrote inflammatory songs like "Mississippi Goddam." Nina's career later cratered, however, from her focus on racial politics; some in the music industry blacklisted her for the fervor of her politics.

Nina recorded 40 records and gave innumerable performances, including at Carnegie Hall. After disappearing for a while, she made a comeback with poignant performances.

If you've never heard Nina sing, you are in for a treat. My favorite song of hers ("Sinnerman") is used in the climactic scene of the film, "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1999). And check out the documentary of her life: you'll be moved.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Unusual Words

It seems the Germans have a word for everything. I just learned a new one.

You've probably heard the word "schadenfreude" which gets used a lot here. A German word meaning the converse just surfaced on my radar -- "gluckschmerz."

Schadenfreude means taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. Gluckschmerz means being sad at the good fortune of others.

Here's an example. Say you are a sensible person and hate the New York Yankees baseball team. When the Yankees fail to make the playoffs, you experience schadenfreude. Happy schadenfreude. When, however, the Yankees win the World Series because they unfairly buy the best talent on the market, you feel gluckschmerz. Serious gluckschmerz.

Got it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Secret Attraction

I have a confession to make. I love skirt-suits, those pre-styled outfits that middle-aged women wear. Aesthetically I know they're a cliché but I can't help myself.

The attraction emerges from my deep-seated desire to be one of those women. I'd get to wear one of these suits. Inhabit that life, have those experiences. That'd bring me bliss.

When I saw an unusually attractive skirt-suit at a thrift-store yesterday I couldn't resist. I tried. I picked the suit up, put it down, walked around, came back, picked it up, put it down and finally said, "Geez! It's only $9. Being happy is worth more than that!"

This outfit brings me joy. In an uncaring world, that's justification enough. Right?

Sunday, April 1, 2018

April Fool's Day

A few days ago I gave you some ideas for pranks. Today, I did some. I practice what I preach!

Every year I play a joke or two on my wife Robin. She'd be disappointed if I didn't. This year, I played two pranks. Robin laughed at the first one and gasped at the second.

First, I replaced an image of the two of us in a framed photo on her desk with a picture of Pee-Wee Herman. (See below.) We both love Pee-Wee, especially his first film ("Pee-Wee's Big Adventure") which was directed by Tim Burton. It's a masterpiece of cinematic art.

Second, I stuck a flat pillow with an image of a pug's head on it in our medical cabinet. When Robin opened the cabinet-door to get her toothbrush, she was surprised!