Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wo ist die Bahnstrasse, bitte?


My first view of the Swiss Alps was from the comfort of First Class on Continental Airlines. I awoke all fresh and dewy (some of the events have been exaggerated for affect) and breathed a quick intake as I saw the tops of the snow-capped mountains flying right by my side.

View from our balcony in Luzerne, Switzerland. It boasts the oldest bridge in Europe, lots of cobblestone roads, really friendly hot chocolate vendors ("Would you care for a beverage, Madame?" echoed in a loud voice so everyone looked at the one person too cheap to pay 7 cf for some hot chocolate I could get for free at breakfast!) By the way, this was the trip of the turtlenecks. I like to have themes, and as you will see, this was one for Switzerland!

Cheese: sliced, melted, in a fondue, with bread, with meat, with bare hands, in chunks, in potatoes, in everything and anything. I heart cheese.

These swans made me laugh. They didn't come up forever and I thought, they are either playing a horrible game of hide-and-seek, they are self-conscious about their beaks, or they are plotting and planning below the surface.

The second oldest bridge in Europe!

I understand a red circle with a line drawn through it, but I don't understand just the red circle and no line. Does this mean that wild and rough looking dogs are allowed at this site? In fact, are they encouraged as so many Europeans seem to think? I wasn't sure, but I didn't like it.


...the Lion of Lucerne is the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world. ~ Mark Twain



After many expensive cable cars, Michelle and I found ourselves On Her Majesty's Secret Service with James Bond on the top of the world, eating potatoes and bratwurst in a revolving restaurant.

I went to the balcony here and shouted, "I'm King of the World!!"

George Lazenby, I'll admit, you are not my favorite Bond. I secretly wished I was seeing a set from a Bond film that featured Craig or Connery.

The Alps soon became an emotional time for me......and Michelle.


After trekking down the steep Swiss mountianside (Michelle complete with D&G handbag no less)....I needed to revive with water straight from the Alps.

Then I took in the view and listened to the quaint and hypnotic sounds of cow and sheep bells ringing over the countryside. I also bought an old postcard from 1939 from a woman who had the smallest shop in the world in the entry way of her house. She inherited all her grandmother's postcards, I suppose. She didn't know what to do with them, so she put them in a basket and sold them for a pittance. I fell in love with the picture, the stamp, the elegant German handwriting, and I told her I would take good care of it.

Then I noticed that Heidi had not come was getting late so I called her in.


My illegal-and-hard-to-see picture of the Chagall stained glass windows in Zurich, definitely the Zurich highlight for me.....besides the nice new watch I treated myself to.

Ok, don't you just want these guys to perch on your windowsill and wake you up in the morning? I do! My global fascination with the world that is McDonald's met with some fonder affection, which I generally have none of for said establishment, in Zurich. The characters are so cuddley and friendly, they have a breakfast sandwich called the McGuyere, which I almost tried, they have patriotic chicken figures in the shape of plus signs or the Red Cross, however you like to think of it (like on the Swiss flag). And, although their little workers didn't wear legwarmers like they do in Korea, they were still clean and friendly...another theme of the Swiss!

The artist section of Zurich, called Schelp or something, I will have to check on that. My German ist nicht zer gutt.

We climbed up to the top of the bell tower, saw a Swiss version of Quasimodo, who was kinder and cleaner kempt. We also did little jigs and sang songs from Sound of Music...because, it just seemed right.

Our room had a beautiful mural on it, with a replica of said church. And there you see my third and final turtleneck. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Forearms and Biceps and Guitars...oh my!!

Forearms and Biceps and Guitars...oh my!!

Ok, I usually don't do this...I usually don't post about someone who I have recently developed a major crush on. Scottish brogue, plays the guitar like he sold his soul to the Devil, muscles lightly stretching the fabric of his shirt, hair just long enough....but every so often, it's nice just to relish in the dreams and talent of a good looking man! And here he is...Donny Little. When I first saw Paolo Nutini and his band come on stage...Paolo in pants that were really just too small for him..let's face it, I was thinking...will this be worth my money?

But then something odd happened, Paolo started to sing...I guess. I mean, he literally looked like a homeless person suffering from severe osteoporosis the way he was always crouched over...then he held his legs together in an odd fashion, like he had to go to the bathroom immediately! On top of this, he didn't open his eyes at all, ever, and he spit a lot on the microphone. So, with his saliva all over his mouth, hunched over, these kind of odd shape lips and stringy hair, I thought he actually looked a little like Golem from the LOTR movies, really, I wanted to ask him if he was keeping it secret, keeping it safe!

Now, now...the kid IS only twenty or he'll get better. But what was I to do for the rest of the evening?!? I actually began longing for the annoying piano player (opening act) to come back. Oh, she had a decent voice, and I actually didn't mind her music, it was just her small-talk that bothered me. At least Paolo had a Scottish brogue that was all mysterious because I couldn't understand anything he said except something about P.F. Changs...but then my evening was saved when........Donny began to play and I was happy....very, very, very happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Human Connection

I do not NEED romance.

I do NEED connections....real, human connections. To have people to share ideas with, thoughts, feelings, misunderstandings, understandings, emotions, words, politics, religion, reflections, laughs, crys, sounds, quites.

I made a connection tonight...thank you.

I'd like to connect with the rest of you.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Why Can't We Predict What Will Make Us Happy?

I had my 11th graders make a list of the ten things they value most in life.

When was the last time you did that?

Then I had them read an article titled, "Does Money Make People Happy?" One particle of this article has stayed with me...won't release me really. It says that current research is showing that most people are bad at predicting what will make them happy.

"Why can't we predict what will make us happy? As Dr. Kahneman explains, there are two people involved in our decisions: The self that actually experiences events and the one who remembers them. It's the remembering self who keeps score and controls our destiny. When we recall events, we craft a narrative for ourselves, paying closest attention to the peak and the end of the experience. And that results in a limited picture of what actually happened."

1. Have you ever loved someone you knew wasn't right for you, couldn't give you what you needed, but you persisted in loving them anyway... I gather this is a rhetorical question, yes?

2. Have any of you based your education, your career on what you thought you should do, what would make you happy but it hasn't?

3. Have any of you given up education and marriage and jobs to follow a dream you knew would make you happy...only to meet with disappointment in the end.

4. Did any of you marry the person you thought would make you happy....

5. How many times have you brought on sadness in your life that could have been avoided had you followed your head instead of your heart.

6. Have you tried to buy happiness in some form or another?

Would any of you take those experiences back?

Do we tend to be more like children, only seeing what will give us immediate happiness (sex, drugs, chocolate, clothes, furniture, car, house, and so on....) and realize some where along the way you don't know how to be happy at all?

Or do you know how to make yourself happy? I'd like to hear how you do it.

The Truth in one Free Afternoon...

"My Rights Versus Yours"

Under your wheels, the hope of spring
Mirage of loss, a few more things
You left your sorrow dangling
It hangs in air like a school cheer

Complex notes inside the chords
On every wall inflections carved
Deep as lakes and dark as stars
Remember we were the volunteers

(Ooooh) Courts knew this and nothing more
(Ooooh) Now it's my rights versus yours

Under your wheels, your hopeless reign
You fall too hard-we're up too late
We hang suspended from the heights
Until it's safer to walk here

Under your wheels, your chance is with
The easy call, the called-off search
The medicine, it still won't work
But there's dangerous levels of it here

(Ooooh) Same thing as the other time
(Ooooh) But now it's your rights versus mine

The truth in one free afternoon
The truth in one free afternoon

Under my wheels the chance is held
Gave me to save me from myself
Spectacles painted with my shaking hand

Fingers in paints, in paints we brought
Thinking we'd leave them when we're not
Flying the flags of new empires in rags

The new empire in rags
The truth in one free afternoon
A new empire in rags
The truth in one free afternoon

Under your wheels, the fits and starts
The time to dabble in the arts
To tease the packs of dogs in charge
But kid it's all wasted on me

Under your wheels, the hope of spring
Mirage of loss, a few more things
The medicine it still won't sing
But there's dangerous levels of it here

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Soft Eyes of Wonder

The desire to have my thoughts heard and looked at and tossed to the wind and thrown out into the universe has heightened in me recently...mostly because I can't find the answers within myself.

I have had an internal dialogue about innocence verses are some of the questions I am not finding concrete answers to, I'd love to hear any takes on the matter...

* Do we give up innocence for knowledge? Or have we now gotten so "advanced" and skilled at destroying innocence that we give it up for far less than knowledge?

*Why should innocence be protected?

*What is the difference between innocence and ignorance?

*Is there something in the Soft Eyes of Wonder verses the Hard Eyes of Seen-It-All?

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I wish I would have been brave enough to say....

Even though a few short hours ago I wrote an entry on repetition, it seems as if I am living in repeat as thoughts and conversations-never-to-be float in my brain in these wee hours. I have been thinking a lot about the lack of braveness and courage I have displayed in my life, especially in key moments of possible love and verging relationships…

I wasn’t brave enough to say many things I wanted to, but I am now, and even though they will never read the words, it feels good to put out into the vast universe the things I wish I would have said….

1. It was New York, it was a birthday party, I wore a cozy white sweater and a mauve scarf in my hair. I had made a birthday card for the celebrated person….and you were there. After intense conversation in the kitchen, we moved into your bedroom where you proceeded to show me all of the Simpsons episodes you had recently and illicitly downloaded, you were so proud. You then sized me up and down, asked me a few philosophical questions and surmised the perfect Valentine’s classical CD to make me. You sat diligently at your computer, while I entertained you with fresh and funny anecdotes (and secretly crushed on your 70s New Era-esque sweater). I said “thank you” at the end of the evening. I wish I would have been brave enough to say, “I like you and your sweater.”

2. It was two o’clock in the morning, it had just rained and the air was damp and humid and the smell of azaleas bushes and mimosa trees floated up through your terrace window. I had just told you that I loved you. You had your arm around me, I had my head on your shoulder. Someone knocked on the door. You said, “Should I answer that, because I don’t have to.” I said, “Yes.” because I wanted to be nice, even though I knew who it was and I didn’t want her there. I wish I had been brave enough to say, “No, just hold me close a little longer.”

3. We were cooking food in your kitchen. We were pretending that we were the host of the hottest FoodNetwork cooking program that ever graced the small screen. I did my best Julia Child impersonation, you laughed and beat the eggs too quickly…were you nervous? The quiche was cooking, you came up behind me and surprised me, putting your arms around my waist, resting your chin on my shoulder. It was the first time I remember ever having my breath literally being taken away. I was breathless for the first time in my life. I was embarrassed, I took both of your hands and removed them from my waist. I pushed your tan hands back into your personal circle…I pushed your shoulder and told you “to stop that.” I wish I would have been brave enough to say, “This feels safe, I like it in your arms.”

4. I was standing in line for the M10 bus heading to Harlem. I had just finished watching a Christian Bale movie by myself in the theater on 42nd street. You came and tapped me on the shoulder. You surprised me. You said that you had noticed me in the theater, and then you had noticed me in line for the bus. You said you would like to get to know me. That my eyes had light in them that was different from the thousands of people crossing your path each day. You gave me your card. I smiled cautiously. I never emailed you. I wish I would have said, “In a city full of millions, thank you for noticing me.”

5. It was London, it was fresh and exciting and new. You waltzed passed in such a state of utter confidence, you looked at me, you smiled. I shyly looked at the sidewalk while asking myself if I had ever seen anyone quite as beautiful as you. The answer is no...I never had before, and I never have since. You walked by, my eyes followed you, your eyes turned and glanced back at me once. I wish I would have been brave enough to say… "Can I buy you a drink?”

Friday, October 12, 2007

What is this Innate Phenomenon ?

What is this innate phenomenon called repetition? As children we love to hear the same stories and songs again and again, we like wearing the same maroon jeans with the rainbow bright belt, we like our hair in our signature braids. It is common knowledge that one of the most ancient and effective learning tools ever devised by man is the powerful principle of repetition.

But here is my question World, is it really true that human beings somehow need to see, hear and do things again and again and again in order to acquire any kind of growth or self-improvement?

I teach the same lesson to basically the same group of teens seven times over a period of two days, then I repeat the process over and over again. Every hour and twenty-five minutes I, in a sense, repeat my life seven different times.

Are all people asked to do this? Do you make the same decisions, have the same conversations with co-workers, do you follow the same routine every day, or is it just me? How do you feel about this? Is there something to be learned from all of these daily tasks of repetitions? Does it make you appreciate the moments that are truly unique? Is it possible to have a job and a life where every day brings a uniqueness? I am not talking about the chance we all have to create small moments of uniqueness each day, but truly doing different things every day. Is it possible? Would we like it?

Or do we like wearing the same warm, lush, striped socks to bed every night, having the same cereal for breakfast every morning, getting on that same flight to London every month, styling our dreads in the same fashion for Latin dancing every time, getting the same phone calls from people who need to change their flight reservations, telling the same young man to read his Charles Dickens, teaching the same Sha-Sha summer camp song again and again and again….

We watch movies with the same story lines again and again and again.

We listen to the same music, or a particular song a thousand times…why?

As a people are we not really looking for "fresh" as much as we are looking for "familiar"?-