Monthly Archives: January 2014

Elegy to a Mentor

Gibb (with Beth and her 80s hair).

Gibb (with Beth and her 80s hair).

Today would have been the 80th birthday of my college mentor. All afternoon I’ve been having “Gibb flashes” and was surprised to look on my perpetual birthday calendar and see his name in parentheses (parentheses being the only indication I am ever willing to give that someone on my calendar is now dead). Somewhere on one of my often-confused brain cells, there must have been some Gibb info stored and an impulse got released to remind me to send him a greeting today.

Only sadly, I have to send it to the general populace since he died in 2006.

When I went to college, I was an art major. My whole life until then I’d either had a pen in my hand for writing or a pen in my hand for drawing, so it’s easy to see now why I was confused about what I should do with my life back then. For the first six weeks of college, I dutifully carried my art supplies to the Fine Arts building and tried not to be intimidated by the girl who wore a beret or the guy who carried a paisley purse, both of whom looked like artists while I was wearing polo shirts and sweaters with shoulder pads. I also tried to ignore how loathe I was to use the mandatory charcoal because the feel of it dragging across the paper set my nerves on edge and I preferred the delicate, fine strokes of a pen. Eventually it became apparent that the joy I felt going into the classroom beneath the art studio for my Valuing Through Literature course when compared to the glumness I felt about Drawing 101, probably meant something significant. Possibly, I would have come to this realization without Gibb at the helm of that class I’d accidentally been placed in by a disinterested advisor, but I like to think it was destiny that put me in his class and that led me to the registrar’s office before the term was up to change my major to English.

Gibb was in his 50s, balding, and had this air of an Englishman even though he was 100% American. (When I say “air” I don’t mean that he put on airs. He was just so caught up in British literature and history, that he gave off an English vibe, so much so that his perfectly American English would start to sound like English English in your ear.) More than once, the actor Anthony Hopkins has reminded me of Gibb, though not so much when he played Hannibal Lecter.

Gibb had this habit of lecturing into his yellow legal pad, as if he were talking to himself in an empty room, only occasionally looking up at one of us with a slight smile or a squinted eye if he’d said something particularly poignant about a poem or essay. He moved his coffee cup around as he talked, as if he couldn’t find the exact right spot for it, and his lectures, while full of the expected details about literature, were also chock-full of anecdotes that you’d miss if you weren’t listening, such as his  memory of the first ball point pen and how the advertisements  had said, “It can write on butter!” as if writing on butter was something everyone would want to do, or his disappointment that inaugurations never looked as good as they did after the Kennedy presidency, which he blamed on the lack of top hats. One of my favorites was about the Wedgwood China he’d won in a puzzle contest that he enjoyed because with it came a trip to England. When he told us about it, he shook his head at the memory of his daughter, who was concerned about how much each piece of it had cost. He said, “How does the price of a gravy boat make the gravy taste any better?” In his mind, it was somehow tied to what we were learning to value through literature, but to some of my classmates, he just seemed like an old guy who rambled. It was these anecdotes of his—dutifully copied in my notes right next to dates and themes of Bride of Lammermoor—that led me to the understanding that literature was life, and vice versa.

He loved pigs and had had a pet one named Jipper when he was a boy, and it would meet him after school each day. Various pig trinkets dotted the shelves which were filled with books about and by Romantic and Victorian British authors, including a tea towel with pigs on it dancing around some building blocks that spelled out ENGLISH. (My friend Bunz, once said, “Until I met Gibb, I had no idea that pigs and English had anything to do with each other.”  I’m still curious about where one would find such a tea towel.)

My fellow English majors liked him fine, but he was not one of the campus personalities around whom students flocked, those intellectual celebrity-profs who spent as much class time talking about themselves and their vast stores of knowledge and accomplishments as they did the subject at hand. Nor was he like the psychology prof in the tight Levis who was popular despite a rather crabby disposition. Gibb amused students, if anything, both because of his odd lecturing manner and the quiet jokes he’d crack in the classroom. Did my classmates respect him? I don’t really know but I have to believe they did because I can’t really stand the thought that they might not have.

Friends who were English majors were aware of my devotion to him and how I hung on his every word, and they sometimes teased me about being in love with him. It was in good fun, but it got under my skin…like being accused of having the hots for Mr. Chips or Yoda or, well, Buddha or Jesus. You just don’t do that. It wasn’t about that. Mostly, I just wanted to scoop out what was in his brain and put it into mine.

One of the regular requirements for his classes were journals, an activity that I loathed for other professors, but I knew Gibb was reading mine because he regularly praised me for the quality, and so I began writing them with more vigor because it was clear I had an audience. It was the perfect communication style for two introverts. His written commentary gave me insight into the work I was writing about, his praise gave me a little more faith in my abilities, and on one occasion when he chastised me, his words burned deep and I spent weeks mentally twisting while I tried to figure out if I had been misunderstood or if I needed to alter my perspective to align more with his.

I remember the satisfaction I felt, when I brought Helene Hanff’s books, 84, Charing Cross Road and The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street to his attention. He’d never heard of her, devoured the books, and one day when I was working in the English Department at my job as a student secretary, I overheard him suggesting the books to someone else. I felt like I’d accomplished something, to carry these two small books to this man who had introduced me to so much fine literature, the way a cat leaves a mouse on a doorstep for its master.

My junior year, he and his wife, took a group of students to England for a week. It was my first trip outside of the U.S., and the idea of seeing the England that Gibb had lectured about with him (and with my friends), really was a dream come true. Our first full day there he led us to the Tower of London, and I can still remember the sort of naïve shock I felt when I realized that the places I’d spent my life reading about were real, the historical figures were real, and even the fictional characters and places were real­-ish.

For some reason, one of my fondest memories from that trip was at Windsor Castle where I overheard his wife pointing out that St. George’s chapel was closed, and Gibb said to her, with the most irritation (and disappointment) I had ever heard from him, “Of course it is closed. Whenever we are here it is closed. Why would it be open today?” Years later when I managed to be there on a day when it was open, I was sure to remember the details of what struck me there—the photo and light burning by the tomb of the current queen’s father, what it felt like to stand directly over Henry VIII’s bones, the checkered floor, the banners—so I could give him the details in case he never did get to see it for himself.

After my graduation, we kept in touch with letters and regular Christmas cards, in which we’d always promise to get together in the near future, though we never did. I wanted to be able to report to him that I had become the next Erma Bombeck or Mike Royko (his two suggested futures for me, as if these were job openings I was likely to see an ad for), and so I kept putting off seeing him maybe, and instead reported less grand things in my letters: a new degree, a trip to Ireland, a new job teaching. In my  memory, I thanked him for what he’d taught me when I started teaching my own students, but I’m not sure I did. I hope I did. Certainly, some percentage of what I said and did in the classroom was because of Gibb.

One year his wife signed the Christmas card and there was no letter. Instead of feeling glad to hear that they were both well, I felt annoyed. Within the year, he had died.  A few weeks later, I found the previous year’s Christmas card and realized it wasn’t his wife who had signed it. It was Gibb. His handwriting looked less like itself, less sure, and the message was short, “Please come and see us!” And I wept because of those things we desperately want “do-overs” on but can’t have.

His voice cracked once when he talked about aging love in Robert Burns’s poem “John Anderson, my Jo” and it has stuck with me all of these years, how much the words on the page were alive for Gibb and should have been alive for all of us, young things that we were, so sure we’d never age.

Travel Styles



My modus operandi when traveling for all of my adult life has been to pack as much as possible into a day. I study guidebooks and websites and make lists of the “must sees” and map out a course of action. I’m not rigid, or anything, but I’m always imagining what is just around the bend that I can observe. The most famous of these pack-as-much-as-you-can-into-a-single-day excursions was on the occasion of my mother’s 60th birthday when we went to New York City a few years ago, and we wanted to get as much of the city explored during our few days there.

On our last afternoon in New York, it was pouring with rain but we had just enough time to go into the MoMA before it closed. We both desperately needed to go back to the hotel and put our feet up because we’d started early and covered a lot of ground. But the MoMA? How could we not go? So we did, and we saw a lot of gorgeous and thought-provoking art, and I remember being there probably better than I remember any other art museum I’ve ever been in because I was in agony. If I’d been allowed, I would have curled up in a fetal position in the room with all the Joseph Cornell boxes and stared at them until closing time. By the time we left the city, Mom’s feet were bruised and raw and she hobbled through the airport like she was 90. She had to call in sick for two days because she couldn’t move. She was happy and had 8 million photos to document everything we saw and did, but I felt like a very bad daughter for putting my greedy need to see sites ahead of Mom’s well-being (and my own body’s protestations).

While Z and I were in Vancouver last Saturday, a large family was behind us, kind of pushing us along the sidewalk as we walked from our Sky Train station down to the spot where we could pick up the ferry for Granville Island. A couple of the people in the group broke free and moved quickly ahead of us, darting in and out of pedestrians, and one of the younger members of the family behind us said, “Why does Mom have us on a forced march?” A sibling, perhaps, said, “We’re running out of time in the city and she has things to do.”

It struck me how in just a few short years—and whether it is being married to Z or the icy hands of middle age, I cannot say—my traveling style has altered. Before, if there were 14 sites to see, I would, by golly, see them all in a single day even if I were miserable by the end of it. Z is not that kind of traveller. If I had to choose a single word to describe him, in this regard, I would say Z is content. He doesn’t want to get up early, he has no delusions about how his life will be better if he gets to see x, y, and z, and mostly he just wants to have fun. When the sight-seeing ceases to be fun, he’s ready to head back to the hotel, and he never has regrets about what he might have missed.

Oh, to be Z.

My body may be begging me for a rest and I may be snappish because of excessive tourism, but mentally, it goes against my grain not to do as much of everything as I possibly can. When I was younger and read “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again” by Stephen Grellet, I failed to pick up on how the poem was about being kind and helpful to those whose path crosses yours and instead I thought it was some sort of travel manifesto. I may never be here again, so I better do it all. But Z is laid back. He’s not ticking anything off a list. He’s having a good time, hoping for a nice snack, and just generally more content.  He has the Zen quality of Pooh Bear traveling, while I, instead, have a combined personality of Rabbit, Owl, and Eeyore. When I start making a huge “to see” list, he reels me in and reminds me that he likes to do one or two things only. So I push him to do more and he pushes me to do less, and we end up somewhere in the middle. I don’t put up much of an argument when he declares he’s ready to head back to the hotel anymore because I’m beginning to understand the merits of leisurely.


So our two nights in British Columbia were not jam-packed. We stayed in New Westminter at Inn at the Quay, and had a room overlooking the Fraser. It’s a working river, so it wasn’t idyllic, but it was peaceful and we enjoyed the view until later in the evenings when the fog swallowed it whole.

Other things the fog swallowed: the mountains. What I remember from my only other trip to Vancouver several years ago was the shock of such beautiful mountains being so close to a city. The views were gorgeous. On this visit, we could have been in Kansas City if there was a lot of waterfront there. Still, lovely though.

In some ways, I’d remembered B.C. and Canada in general as more perfect than it actually is. For instance, I’d told Z how amazed he would be by how much cleaner it was than Seattle, which ended up being completely untrue. I’ve never nearly stepped in so much dog crap in my life. (The upside: loads of dogs for me to oogle, one of my favorite past times.) There was litter. Some areas were sketchier than I remembered. None of it was bad, certainly none of it was worse than what we see every day in Seattle, but it wasn’t the utopia I’d remembered, which was a good realization for someone like me to have; I always think somewhere else is better than wherever I am.

In New Westminster, we explored their revitalized waterfront, sampled some of the wares at the Rivermarket, which was right next to our hotel. At the market, on the first or “hungry” floor, you could devour a variety of local foods, and on the second or “curious” floor you could take classes, including learning a few tricks at the drop-in circus school. (We ate food but did not learn the trapeze, fyi).

We were right across the street from the Sky Train—fully automated and mostly elevated—into Vancouver. It reminded me more of the Chicago El and less of Seattle’s light rail. It was clean and quick and I enjoyed peering into the apartments and condos of people as we whizzed by to see how they decorated.


On my last trip, I’d never made it to Granville Island, though several people had suggested it, so we decided this should be our destination.  I’d read about it, so knew what to expect, but poor Z was picturing a leisurely ferry ride to a wooded island like Bainbridge, instead of the half a minute Aquabus ride to what felt like the other side of False Creek. He was happy when we disembarked, however, and made our way to the public market. It was reminiscent of Pike Market (particularly in the way I got crabby after about ten minutes because there were entirely too many people there), but had more food stalls. Z was particularly pleased with the Cornish Pasty he had, and I, because I eat like a picky four year old, had spaghetti and meatballs. Delicious, but not very adventurous. (This will never turn into a Foodie blog—sorry to disappoint you.) We walked around the island for a while, investigating the artisans’ wares in Railspur Alley, and tried to investigate the little bookstore and stationery store, both of which looked delightful but were way too crowded for it to be enjoyable. Then we hopped on the Aquabus and made our way back downtown.  On the walk, we visited the museum store (and loo) at the art museum, where it was nearly closing time. The building looks lovely, even if we didn’t make it in to see the collection. We continued our walk, peering into the Fairmount Hotel, where I hoped to see the resident yellow Lab, whom I met last time I was in town, and then on to the waterfront to try to find a view through the fog.

Eventually we arrived in Gastown. It was a particular favorite of mine, before I moved to Seattle and was introduced to Pioneer Square. The two places remind me a lot of each other: both have roots to the oldest part of the towns’ histories, both fell on hard times and became “skid row”, both were on the verge of being demolished when some forward thinking person realized the value, both for history’s and tourism’s sake, and the areas were saved and revitalized. Our biggest Gastown disappointment is that we’d stuffed ourselves so full on Granville Island we weren’t ready to eat dinner yet. It niggled at me a little that we were headed back to the hotel when everyone else was just headed out for the evening, but if I’m completely honest, I was looking forward to the quiet, un-crowded hotel and foggy view.

On Sunday, before heading home, we had lunch at the Dubliner Pub, which is housed in what used to be part of the penitentiary. It was cozier than you might imagine and the brunch there was delicious. We may have stopped at the Hard Rock casino for a flutter before directing the car towards the border, and we may have cleared $33 of the bizarrely plastic-y and see-through-y Canadian dollars, which we have tucked away for our next trip north.

Are there other things on our list to see in Vancouver like the observatory or Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden (or the neighboring free park) or the scenery  we’ve been promised on the drive to Whistler? Um, yeah. But for our inaugural trip, we were content. And it didn’t hurt that we made it home just in time to see the Seahawks make it into the Super Bowl.


Flashback Friday: Ghost Ship

The House Bar, Kilkenny, Ireland

The House Bar, Kilkenny, Ireland

[Another Friday, another flashback. Here is another chapter from the Irish adventure with my friend Belle. As with most of my Irish posts, you should imagine Van Morrison (or the Saw Doctors) playing in the background.]


23 March 2006

Crystal is expensive & its absence of color bothers me, but when you are at the Waterford Crystal Factory and you’ve watched the film about how it is the MOST perfect crystal in the world—how, in fact, imperfection is not tolerated—suddenly it seems like you need to own a piece and like maybe your cousin who is getting married next month needs a piece. And maybe your mother. Maybe an aunt. Maybe a neighbor. If you find yourself in this situation here is my advice to you: don’t do the euros-to-dollars conversion in your head. Pretend that the sticker that says ’85’ means eighty-five dollars and be done with it. Later, when your Visa bill comes, you can worry about the math and bad exchange rates. At which point, the prisms dancing around your living room and your cousin’s note of thanks about how her marriage would not have been so happy without your gift will soften the blow.

It really is just the most awful kind of extravagance there at the Waterford Crystal Visitors’ Center. For instance, I mailed ten postcards by dropping them into a giant crystal mailbox.

When you walk in, you are at the highest level of the show room, looking down on the chandeliers. This level has replicas of the various trophies that have been created (one in the shape of a football, most in the shapes of loving cups), place settings of goblets and doo-dads that Queen Elizabeth (or Oprah) couldn’t afford. It’s gorgeous, but excessive.

The next level down is where the goods are sold. I walked around this area for an hour, trying to do the math that would make it possible for me to spend money in a cost-effective way, get a wedding present, a shower present, some other small gifts, and spend the 200 euros needed so I could ship everything home for free. (For the record, other people are going in with me on the wedding gift. I’m not THAT extravagant. I do just teach at a small Midwestern university.)

I couldn’t decide, so I went to the next level down where the Wedgewood is sold. I’m not buying English china in Ireland. I’m not. So I scooched on into the room where other bits and bobs were sold. The space started feeling a lot less posh and a lot more like a basement. I was more comfortable. Here was the tourist tat that is sold everywhere in Ireland, of which I own too much because in those last minutes before a plane boards, suddenly it seems imperative that I have a Claddaugh apron or sixteen bumper stickers that say ‘Póg mo Thóin’ and key chains and coasters with my family’s supposed crest on it. It disturbed me that Waterford Crystal, an entity that couldn’t be more Irish, has the same class stratification that the Titanic (another Irish creation) did. So there I was in the basement in my scuffed up clogs with my hair in a ponytail and my black ‘just say no to troops in Shannon airport’ Shamrock button, KNOWING that I belong—and always will—in steerage. But for the sake of my cousin and her impending wedding, I clawed my way out of the ship’s hold before I was tempted to buy her a shamrock covered teapot with ‘Eire’ written above a facsimile of Brian Boru’s harp.

I made my choices, did the euro-only calculations, and then at the last minute asked the woman how long the free shipping would take on these items. Six weeks, she says. The wedding is in three weeks. Guess what’s going to be in my carry-on, wedged under the seat in my own little hunk of American Airline’s version of 3rd class travel?

An interlude: yesterday in Kilkenny, I saw a pub with a blue sign that said, “The Mouse Bar.” It made me laugh and imagine tiny rodents sidling up to the counter, asking for a pint, so I took a picture. This evening I mentioned it to Belle and Himself and showed them the picture. Isn’t this funny, I said. The artist looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “It’s the HOUSE bar,” he said. “Not the MOUSE bar. I told you about it before you left, said it would be a good place to eat.” Belle got so tickled she couldn’t quit laughing. Her face was red and Himself said, “Get control of yourself, woman.” For the rest of the night, all either of us would have to do was softly mention “mouse bar” and the other would start cackling.

Back to our regular scheduled programming:

This afternoon, Belle decided that I should see the famine ship in Dunbrody. She’d tried to see it last spring but it was in dry dock, and then later in the year she’d made the trip and found it worthwhile. She’d even checked the web last week to make sure it would be open this time of year. It is a replica of one of the ships that brought over emmigrants who were trying to leave an inhospitable Ireland in the mid 19th century. The night before she’d pointed me to a few sights to find information on a great-great grandfather no one in my father’s family knows anything about, and she said that at the ship I could search manifests to see who traveled from where and when. Though I’m not big on re-enactments of such things (can we really know how horrible the insides of those coffin ships were in 1847?), the genealogical aspect seemed excellent, so today we drove the 20 minutes or so down the road to New Ross, and as we were crossing the bridge, she said, “I don’t see the boat.” It was misty out and I figured she’d just forgotten where it was. The closer we got to the dock, the more sure it seemed that it wasn’t there.

The visitors’ center, however, was opened. People were there having sandwiches in the little shop and the ladies running it were dusting off the souvenir erasers and sterling silver Celtic crosses in hopes of making a sale. It was as if they were unaware that the boat wasn’t there. As if, perhaps, it were a ghost ship that only they could see. There were two computers there and I momentarily got my hopes up that I could do my search anyhow, but then quickly saw the ‘out of order’ signs hanging on both. Belle asked about the ship. It’s in dry dock again for some big sailing thing later in the spring. Belle pointed out that she’d just checked the website. The lady said, “But it only went into dry dock last week!” Belle said that yes, perhaps that was the case, but last week was when she checked the website to see if it was worth making the trip (FROM AMERICA) and the woman said, “But it will only be in dry dock for a week!” as if that explained it away. She then offered to show us a ten-minute video about the boat we wouldn’t be able to see. I said, ”No. I’ve gone off it,” and we left. And then we laughed most of the way back to Waterford. It was annoying, but I can’t really be too annoyed in Ireland about anything. Everything just seems sort of funny. Going to the wrong church. Having a pint at a mouse bar. Visiting a ghost ship.

To save the day, Belle then drove me to East Dunmore, a resort town that Maeve Binchy writes about and where movies of her books are filmed. Lots of cottages with English thatch. It was a windy, misty, cold day, and the sea was crashing against the rocks and roaring. We saw a monument to the sea-dead from the area that one of the Artist’s co-workers designed, and drove around the high road looking at the view. It was breathtaking, and there, without benefit of ten-minute films or faux famine ship passengers, I could think about what that voyage must have been like, how desperate a person would have to be to leave family and home to brave a sea that could be so violent. How optimistic. And while I’m not ego-centric enough to think they imagined their future generations drinking Coca Cola out of crystal goblets, I wonder if maybe they weren’t wanting something a little more close to perfect than what they’d been born into.

Isn’t that why we’re always scratching and whinging and charging things on our credit cards? Don’t we have some idea that things could be better if only we….

East Dunmore Memorial

East Dunmore Memorial


Peace Arch

Peace Arch

This weekend, Z and I went to British Columbia to celebrate, belatedly, our 4th anniversary, which we had to spend apart last month.

Z has a freshly minted Canadian visa burning a hole in his pocket, and he’s never been north of the 49th parallel in North America, so it seemed like the best place to celebrate. (Also, I like to think we were celebrating the occasion of my 50th blog  post with a little international travel.) It wasn’t my first trip there; a conference in Vancouver almost a decade ago was my first introduction to this part of the world, even before I met Seattle, so I was anxious to see it again now that we’re neighbors.


Because I grew up smack in the middle of the country in a town situated on the National Road and I-70, it often felt as if there was nothing but wide-open space and an open road that led to other more exciting kinds of lives. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve sometimes felt the pinch of this geography. It’s not exactly that I want to run anywhere, but the close(ish) proximity of the Pacific to the west and the Canadian border to the north, has, at times, made me feel hemmed in. I have elaborate apocalyptic fantasies that I blame on being raised during the End Times crazed 1970s, so while we were sitting in line at the Peace Arch waiting to cross into Canada, my brain got a little overactive, thinking about how our twenty minute wait would be hours and hours if we ever had to run away from home because of some sort of Red Dawn style invasion or Zombie attack or what have you. And that “Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity” etched across the top didn’t soothe me so much as make me imagine ways in which this would become a mockery in some dark future, not unlike that scene of the decimated and mostly submerged Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes.


Is there a word for being simultaneously creeped out and fascinated by something? Someone should invent one if there isn’t. (And if there is one, someone should tell me. I can’t figure out how to google such a query.) Aside from end-of-the-world concerns, I’m also weirdly drawn to and repulsed by those places in our lives that are neither here nor there: airplanes in mid flight, waiting rooms when someone is in surgery, the place where the sea and land meet, the gloaming. It’s magical and kind of terrifying. What is that no man’s land, that is neither one thing nor another?


While we sat in line waiting to cross into Canada, where were we exactly? We were, I think, still technically on US soil, yet the houses we were looking at beyond an inconsequential fence seemed to be in Canada. The yards looked Canadian, if that’s possible. And if we got out of our car and walked in the roadside park, where exactly were we? Would anyone want to tackle us to the ground for stepping over some line we shouldn’t?


Also, I felt really geeky that at this friendliest of borders, the adrenaline rush I was feeling was tantamount to moving between East and West Berlin before the wall came down. When we finally made it to the border patrol agent and he asked us a few questions about how we knew each other and what our plans were, in my mind the whole trip had grown into some caper we were trying to get away with. All we really wanted to do was get to our hotel in New Westminster, eat some food, see some sights in Vancouver, relax, and after two days, return to Seattle in time to see the Seahawks playoff game from the comfort of our own sofa. Yet as the questions got fired at me, I felt more and more like we were smuggling  someone across the border in our trunk. Also, because Z doesn’t yet have a green card, I often worry that someone with a badge will decide we aren’t legitimately married and make us live apart. (Why I thought a Canadian border agent was the person to do this, I don’t know.)


The guy looked at Z’s documents and asked a few more questions about why he’s here and not in Zimbabwe, and Z, being Z, answered with authority and reminded me of Obi Wan Kenobi when he does that Jedi mind trick on the storm troopers and says, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” and the storm troopers sort of shrug their shoulders and give up the hunt for R2-D2 and C-3PO. Z is amazing. Meanwhile, even if I seemed calm, inside I felt as if I had baggies of heroin stashed in unmentionable places, and I hoped he wouldn’t notice the sweat on my brow.


Something snapped inside me though when the agent asked why we had a rental car instead of our own. I can’t say why it annoyed me so much except our lack of car here sometimes gets under my skin. I miss Hilda, my beloved CR-V that is parked in my parents’ drive-way currently covered in snow, waiting for my return, and I love the ease with which you can drive places back in Indiana. So it was kind of a sore spot, frankly. I was pleasant, as is my Midwestern training, but for some reason, I wanted to say, “Screw you. We’re going back to Bellingham where we’re wanted and no one questions our life choices.”


In retrospect, I wish I’d acted morally superior about carbon emissions and how we don’t own a car because we love the planet more than most people.  (Though just between us, the reason we don’t own a car is because parking in our neighborhood is $4 an hour, traffic is tedious, and Z walks to work.) Anyhow, he seemed to believe me and waved us on.  Never mind my body cavities filled with imaginary drugs or the imaginary Peruvian in our trunk, trying to get into the country illegally.


My desk (fantasy version)

My desk (fantasy version)

I used to have students who would say to me, “I’m a writer, but I hate to read.” Whenever I’d hear that—and I heard it too much—I’d always want to do one of those obnoxious cough talks, where you hold your hand over your mouth, bark a cough, and simultaneously say something rude. But I was a good teacher, so instead I’d suggest a book I was sure would capture their interest.

You can’t write and not read. I mean, I suppose you can, but I don’t really want to have to read what you write. And frankly, it seems a little rude to me to write something you think other people should read when you refuse to read yourself. I suppose you could be a chef who doesn’t like to eat anyone else’s food, but where would you get your inspiration and style?

I have no idea if I would have thought of myself as a writer if my mother hadn’t made being a reader non-negotiable. Maybe I would have been like those old students of mine, enamored with the idea of having my name on a book or a story or a poem published with my byline without having bothered to study craft or let someone else’s words inspire my own. It’s one of those unanswerable nature vs. nurture debates. I grew up in an apartment that was filled, floor to ceiling, with books crammed into a brick-and-board shelving system. I saw my mother reading and I was read to nightly. I had my own library card the moment I was allowed to have one, and I knew how to use it. (Brief aside: one of the saddest losses to me in this barcode age is the absence of the satisfying “Ka-chunk” sound when you checked out a book.) My childhood was spent at garage sales, used bookstores, and in the book sale section of the musty Salvation Army store, where Mom’s early collection got its start. Though I might have gotten bored during these lengthy browsing sprees at times, I was resigned. Books were holy and when you were in the presence of some that were for sale, you kept quiet and waited for selections to be made and the ting of the cash register that signaled the benediction.

I had my own bookcases before I had my own room. They were full of Little Golden Books, Dr. Seuss, the Little House on the Prairie Series, Trixie Belden mysteries, and all manner young adult books. The shelves grew. First three small ones, and then a desk set with adjoining shelves that were later cut in two, turned sideways, and had boards put across the short ends, giving my own library room to grow. When my  mother and step-father got married and bought a house, it wasn’t long before we’d enlisted him into building floor-to-ceiling shelves in my bedroom. When I was constructing my library, my belief was that it was something I’d carry with me for life, like scars and family photos. You might weed out the baddies, but even if you outgrew a book, you didn’t casually release it into the wilds. You hung on to it because it was part of the literary canon of your life.

* * * * *

When you think of me, I’d like for you to have the above photo in mind: my tidy desk with a row of writing books in front of me at the ready, should I need to find an answer about style or read a line for inspiration. These are all books that I’ve read in total or in part and know to be useful. When I look at my desk, these books bring me joy because this is the sort of person I always imagined I’d be: organized, controlled, and like a good Girl Scout, prepared.

But I’ve got a book problem. They multiply like rabbits. Despite the fact that I culled the herd when I moved here, and left half of my collection back in Indiana at my folks’ house, I’m operating at near maximum capacity here. When I was cleaning out my office this past spring after I resigned from my teaching position, I weeded extensively. There were a lot of books there that I had bought when I was just starting my collection, thinking that my life wouldn’t be complete if I hadn’t read the complete works of  ________________________________, but two decades later I no longer felt compelled. I’m beginning to recognize that I don’t have an infinite amount of reading days ahead of me, and so I’m trying to be choosey. (Which begs the question, why was I up until four a.m. last night finishing the latest Dan Brown novel.) But even with the weeding, every time I’m back home, a few more books leap into my suitcase, desperate to be reunited with their siblings.


So this is what my writing studio looks like, plus another set of shelves on the opposite wall where the books are double-stacked. Plus, a small set of cubes to go on top of these just as soon as Z and I figure out how to secure the shelves to the wall without wrecking our chances of getting our deposit back.

There wasn’t room for bookshelves in our living room, so for the first year or so that we were married, it was largely book free, give or take a coffee table book. Then I started getting books that I was planning to read “next.” So I put them on the windowsill behind the sofa. At first, it was just a few books and I definitely would be getting to them shortly, but then I went to a bookstore, used up an Elliott Bay Books gift card, went to a reading and felt compelled to buy the author’s latest title, had a birthday, and the next thing I knew, my “next” collection ran the length of the double windowsill. While the books in my studio are arranged in a very specific but intuitive fashion so I can easily find what I need, on the windowsill it is a free-for-all. I put books there as they come to me, so race car driver Janet Guthrie’s biography is right next to National Geographic’s Scenic Highways and Seven Secrets of the Prolific.

Book chaos

Book chaos

Books crept into the weird bar space behind our TV. Some appeared under my little wooden stool. We won’t speak of my nightstand, where the stack is currently so high, it threatens to block out my light. Nor will we speak of Z’s poor books, which I always relegate to hidden corners and alcoves. Any of these books could go live in the studio, where they might be more at home and so I would have more surfaces in my living room on which to set Zimbabwean objet d’art (read: stone hippos and wart hogs made of scrap metal), but I know as soon as I take them there, they’ll be lost to me. I’ll forget about them, find them in ten years and wonder what made me ever think I wanted to read a memoir about a Seattle mom who loves yoga or an American family who lived in Berlin before World War II.

And don’t even get me started on why it is I think I need to own every book about writing that was ever written. I’ve got so many books on how to be a productive writer, that I refuse to buy another unless the first line is: In order to be a more  productive writer, quit reading books about how to be more productive. It’s a sickness I have.

What I'm reading NEXT.

What I’m reading NEXT.

This is my most recent stack of books, compliments of Z and my folks. They came for both Christmas and my birthday. The desk behind them will open. Right now. But as soon as I cash in those holiday gift cards? Forget about it.

I know the world of e-reading makes for tidier living spaces, but I’ve got five books on my iPad and I can’t remember to read them. An iPad, to me, is not a book; it is a place to check my mail, watch Downton Abbey, and play “Ticket to Ride.” My brain doesn’t hear the start-up ping of an electronic device and think, “Oh boy! Time to read!”

So here’s my 2014 challenge to myself. I am going to show up to those books on the windowsill (and my new books, of course!) read as many of them as I am able, and report back to you.

If it were a real challenge, I’d make some outlandish promise about how they’d all be read and removed by December 31st, but I’m not crazy. Some books will probably always need to live there so I have easy access: The Art of the Personal Essay, The One-Minute Organizer, and You Can Heal Your Life (because sometimes I need to know what negative thought pattern I have that might be causing my big toe to hurt). That’s 68 books, plus the top two on my nightstand that I’ve got  to finish, which rounds it off to a solid 70.  And maybe, for good measure, I’ll read all the magazines I’ve been stockpiling since I got married. Joan Didion has been staring at me from the cover of Poets & Writers for two years now.

What are you reading? Oh, don’t tell me. The windowsill is already full.


The Best Dog’s Birthday

Mac, the Scottish Terrier

Mac, the Scottish Terrier

It seems like a real oversight on my part that you all have met Skampy but you haven’t met Mac.


This is Mac. Today is his birthday. He’s twelve. He’s in California, living it up with his parents, where he spends half the year sunning himself and dreaming about the squirrels that are running rampant in his own backyard back in Richmond. (You may remember him because he got a shout out when I was in Zimbabwe. Then, it seemed like maybe he was terribly, terribly sick, but then miraculously, he wasn’t and there was much jubilation in America and Zimbabwe.) Today, he’s eating some doggy version of cake two states away from me, and we’re all  happy about that. The world is a better place with Mac in it.


He is my Fairy God Dog. Probably it is weird to be so attached to a dog that doesn’t technically belong to you, but too bad. He feels like mine, and when I run into other Scotties here in Seattle and talk to their owners, I say, “I have a Scottie back home in Indiana,” and I don’t even feel like a liar. He was the Best Dog in our wedding, and it’s hard for me to imagine he’s not the best dog anywhere. He and I are pretty happy when we get to spend time together.


His parents have had a series of Scottish terriers that I’ve been babysitting at their gorgeous home since I was 18. They also had a quirky, incontinent cat that I liked a lot. (Perhaps best not to speak of the pair of lizards that were in my charge one year there.) Mac’s predecessor, Bailey, was the sort of dog who would have been a real reader if he’d only had an index finger to flip pages with, and while he’d sit on the patio regarding the flowers, I convinced myself that if he were a man, he’d be my soul mate. (It is worth noting, Z does have many Bailey-esque qualities.) When Bailey died, I was sure I could love no other dog more than I loved him. What would the point be?


But then a few years later, his parents called me to see if I was up for a challenge. They had just found a Scottie puppy they were keen on, but they were about to set off on their travels for several weeks, and the only way they could get this puppy was if I agreed to stay with him. It would be a lot of work, they said, so they’d understand if I didn’t want to. I’d never had a puppy under my care, I knew nothing about helping to train a dog, and I was a little nervous at the prospect. But there was really no answer I could give but “yes.” Have you ever seen a Scottie puppy? He was adorable, there in the underbrush, hiking his leg and tipping over because he didn’t yet have his balance, and I was pretty much in love with him the first time we met.


He ate one of my best bras within the first two days I was there. He devoured an entire, unopened bag of beef jerky and then expected praise for being so clever at having figured out how to open it with his little puppy teeth. He’d regularly dart out of the house and into the woods, terrifying me because he’d refuse to come back when called, and then would dash back into the house in his own good time, covered from tip to tail in burrs. He’d lie still while I pulled the burrs from his fur, wagging his tail as if this too was the most fun ever. How could I be mad?


I could regale you pages of Mac stories, but I know that might be tedious for you. Whenever I am with him, he keeps an elaborate and entertaining journal about his exploits, so maybe you’ll read about those one day.  (I’m ashamed to admit that as soon as I write an entry, I forget that he didn’t pen it himself, so when I go back through and read it months or years later, I’m amused by how clever he is and what a way with words he has.) He’s terribly smart and he has a lot to say. He’s also superb at getting his message across even when I’m not transcribing for him. For example, I once gave him a bowl of water from my parents’ tap. They live in the country and the water is good but extra irony. I settled down in the swing to sip my bottle of Aquafina. Mac sniffed his bowl and then looked at me pointedly. Then at my bottle of Aquafina. Then back to his bowl. We did three rounds of this before I finally cried uncle, upended his bowl, and gave him half of my bottled water, which he lapped up happily.


He’s very persuasive. And squirrels live in fear of him.


Since I’m making confessions, it’s probably worth a mention that last year I flew home to Indiana expressly to see Mac because I missed him. And this summer, when my mother was babysitting him and she and I were talking on the phone, I heard him bark and I almost burst into tears because it was so good to hear his voice and I was missing him fiercely. You can’t really call a dog on the phone and have anything akin to a conversation.


So this one is to you, Mac. Tell your parents you want to see the Space Needle. And me. (And don’t tell Z, but I’ve already googled the distance between the address where you are wintering and the conference hotel where we’ll be in Anaheim next month. Maybe I can get you some dog-sized mouse ears.)





Flashback Friday: The Moose at the Gate Should Have Told You

Kilkenny 2006

Kilkenny 2006

[Technically it’s Saturday and not Friday, but I got a new iPhone yesterday and so the day disappeared while I figured it out. So far, the only drawback to it that I see is that it’s becoming apparent I might need reading glasses. Anyhow, I’m continuing the Irish sojourn with Belle here.]

 March 26, 2006

This morning I woke to the sound of Belle scratching at my door, singing Morning Has Broken and saying that the musical wake up call is just another of the services offered here. I had a train to catch for my solo adventure to Kilkenny and she’d been given orders from the Artist to leave forty minutes early ‘just in case.’ She rolled her eyes at his caution, but it was harmless. Both of us were secretly pleased to have someone Irish clucking after us, I suspect.

My reasons for wanting to go were three-fold: 1) my need to go places alone periodically so I feel adventurous 2) Rick Steves’s (my former travel god) recommendation that it is the most beautiful inland medieval city in Ireland 3) a song of the same name that I love to torture myself with.

In terms of adventure, I’m more like a toddler who is just learning to walk, being shunted across a narrow living room between parents. I like the independence of mini-solo travel when I know at the end of the day someone is going to be waiting on me and will know if I’ve been hit on the head with a piece of Connemara marble and left for dead in a bog.  I KNOW adventurous people. I am not one. But this affords me the illusion.

My mother thinks I have amazing traveling acumen because I can navigate the Dayton International Airport without studying signs overlong. She finds this ability akin to a sixth sense or messages from the Holy Spirit, but the reality is that everything I know about getting from one place to another I learned at amusement parks. I think parents who don’t take their children to Disney World or Six Flags or even Kennywood should be brought up on child-endangerment charges because of the life-coping skills that can be learned there. When I go somewhere new, the first thing I do is look for the ‘park’ map, find the key things I want to do and make a plan of attack (to avoid lines, excess walking, or midday sun), and then search for a landmark by which I can navigate. ‘Tram’ service of some sort is operational most places. ‘Concession stands’ (most here selling pub grub instead of corn dogs, admittedly) are every two feet, where you can also find restroom facilities. Souvenirs can be purchased anywhere, though balloon animals in this location tend to make you look a bit touched in the head.

So this morning when I got off the train in Kilkenny (population 10,000), I immediately searched for castle turrets and got my bearings. Irish Frontierland. It was about a ten minute walk and on the way a car pulled up beside me and asked how to get to the castle. I said, ‘Straight ahead and turn left. You can’t miss it.’ I didn’t KNOW this for a fact (I’d left the guidebook back in Waterford, even) but the truth is these are basically always the directions you get in Ireland anyhow, so why not give them like a native? Sure enough several minutes later, I was standing behind the folks I’d given directions to, waiting to get my ticket for the Kilkenny Castle tour. They thanked me; I smiled, secretly pleased with my own navigational brilliance.

Kilkenny Castle is nice. I’m not a fan of Irish castles because I always think of oppression and audacity instead of the romance and adventure. In England, it is easier to buy into the whole chivalry thing without worrying too much about serfs and thralls. Maybe a beheaded wife will intrude on your Arthurian fantasies. Here, you can smell it for what it was–imperialism with a helping of genocide. Rich people (living richly) on the backs of the poor. But I digress. The castle is lovely. It’s 800 years old, has beautiful grounds, and has been refurbished impeccably in Victorian decor, the last era it was used before falling into ruin. The town was beautiful too. Bustling. Narrow, cobbled streets. Brightly colored store fronts. Just what you expect to find.

I ate lunch at the Irish equivalent of Subway, and when I was finished asked for directions to the cathedral. Which cathedral, the sandwich guy wanted to know. I don’t know–the cathedral you’re supposed to see when you are here, I said. He chewed his lip, consulted with the sandwich girl, and they decided it must be St. Mary’s I was after. I asked how I got there and they said in unison, Straight up the street, turn left, you can’t miss it.

I walked to the cathedral, humming ‘Kilkenny.’ It’s a song that you listen to when you feel you need to cry but can’t quite get yourself over the hump. Three lines from it and you’ll be wiping your nose on your sleeve. After the first round of the chorus, you’ll be belting out great hiccuping sobs. It’s like an old-timey Irish version of ‘Cats in the Cradle.’ So I sang it, walked to the cathedral, peered in the door and felt generally unmoved. I like Catholic churches when they aren’t in session. I like the smell of incense, the candles flickering, the sounds of the kneelers creaking under the weight of the devout. But this church didn’t feel like the one I was supposed to see. I shrugged and headed back toward the train station. On the walk I started thinking that ‘Kilkenny’ didn’t sound right either. It didn’t sound right at all. I hum-sang a few more bars and realized it WASN’T ‘Kilkenny.’ It was KILKELLY. ‘Kilkelly, Ireland, 18 and 60, my dear and loving son John/Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat McNamara’s so good as to write these words down.’

Sniff. Wipe.

So, while I had managed to get myself and a family of four I’d never met to the castle, I had basically gone to the wrong town in the first place and while in the wrong town I had hummed and fantasized about a song that was, apparently, inappropriate, seen a church that was not recommended by Rick Steves, Esq. Still, it was a good day. I’d seen some things, I had people waiting on me when I got home, and in my fake-out amusement park world, no humans in giant furry animal suits tried to hug me as I departed the magic kingdom of Kilkenny.

A Little Birthday Luck

A Reluctant Girl Scout Turns Five.

A Reluctant Girl Scout Turns Five.

Yesterday was my birthday. The thing about an Epiphany birthday like mine is that it signifies the real end of the holiday season, so as a kid, I was always torn between joy and feelings of melancholy because I couldn’t reasonably expect to have another wrapped package in my hands for eleven and half months. Last year, my nephew was born on Christmas night, and while it seemed like a great score for the family, I instantly felt a connection with the little guy in terms of future birthday disillusionment.

As an adult, what I’ve discovered is that in my head, I get a buffer week on New Year’s Resolutions. While the rest of you were slaving away on the gym treadmill and learning Portuguese, I was still planning my new year and eating Christmas cookies. I don’t count the first week of January as time I should be doing “X”.  Instead, I wait until my age changes and then it’s a complete clean slate and time to get down to business.

On the birthday downside this year, I did not turn five, Raggedy Ann was not accompanying me throughout the day, and I did not have a jazzy pink pantsuit to wear. And it will be eleven and half months before I get another proper present.

On the birthday up side, Z and I went to Tulalip Casino Resort  the night before, so I awoke in luxurious splendor to a “Happy Birthday” banner, presents and cards, and the promise of an excellent breakfast at Cedars Café in the resort before we drove back to Seattle so Z could teach his first class of the new quarter. Later that night we had dinner with Hudge and I was slightly mortified that the waiters sang Happy Birthday to me. But back to Tulalip.

We aren’t high rollers, and though Z would laugh at me, I would argue we aren’t really casino people.  We spend $20 each on penny slots, and after an hour, we get overwhelmed by the smoke, pinging machines, and flashing lights.

I always sheepishly tell people we went to a casino, and I am also uncharitable in the way I present the information, as if we only go because Z likes it and I am only humoring him.  I’ve apparently got just enough Puritan or Quaker genes in me to feel a little guilty every time we go. I can’t specifically name the guilt because it’s different every time and ranges from “wasting money” to “wasting time” to “wasting paper cups at the complimentary soda fountain.” But there is also a thrill that comes from it and an engagement of imagination that is good for us. That is, I like the period of time right before we go when anything is possible, and we imagine both how we might win it big on Lucky Lemmings and what we will do with our new wealth. It’s not unlike buying a lottery ticket and imagining all the stuff you’ll buy and the people you’ll help out as soon as the check clears. We’ve taken ourselves and family members on so many trips around the world in our minds, I can’t even count them.

Like most things in life, I’m learning that it is all a matter of perspective (and moderation). I could go to the casino with my lips pursed and an eye on everyone else, imagining all the ways I’m not as desperate as they are with their frequent player cards on lanyards, or I can loosen my grip on that twenty dollar bill and enjoy myself the way Z does. We rarely play serious slots with fruit and numbers, but instead tend towards the one with “bonus features” that involve small woodland creatures. Oh, I wish you could see the glee on Z’s face when he gets a bonus feature. It really is like Christmas morning. That’s the real reason I like to go, and why I often find a machine right next to him, even if he’s playing a boring machine that I don’t really approve of. It’s worth $20 any day.

But I’m getting off track. My point here is that we aren’t high rollers and we’re never going to get a room comped. Lucky Lemmings players are never in the high roller suite to the best of my knowledge.  Fortunately for me, in January, the resort offers a “pay the date” deal to fill the otherwise empty hotel, so around my birthday, we can stay for less than we’d pay for a Holiday Inn.

I’m a sucker for a good hotel room—in fact, we’re planning a trip to Vancouver right now, and I’m way more excited about sitting in a hotel room with a view, peering out at the world, than I am in actually taking a trolley tour. Tulalip rooms are so lovely if we never went down to the casino, I’d be fine with that. They are rich with reds and golds and fabrics that kind of envelop you, with shout outs to the Tulalip tribe in native art work. If I could figure out how to steal the suspended bedside lights—blown glass—I’d tuck them into my over-sized hand luggage, though probably we’d have to book next year under a pseudonym.

Tulalip King Room

Tulalip King Room

I have two favorite spots in the room. The first is the sumptuous three-headed shower in a bathroom that demands you take about three showers a day simply because showering never felt so good (or clean). My second favorite spot is the chaise lounge next to the window. It’s the kind of piece of furniture I’d never have in my own house because it isn’t my style and seems so purposeless, but when I have access to it I realize the error of my thinking. It’s the perfect spot to read. And nap.

Tulalip Casino Resort

Tulalip Casino Resort

On this stay, an extra birthday treat rarely granted by the Pacific Northwest in January: a clear day that offers a Mt. Rainier view. Delicious.

Mt. Rainier from Tulalip Casino Resort

Mt. Rainier from Tulalip Casino Resort

So this is my post-birthday post.  This is me officially beginning my year of “showing up.” This is me, one year older, not particularly wiser, and $20 poorer than I was before we went to Tulalip. But it was a good time, and I’m hoping for more of the same in the next 365 days.

Flashback Friday: The Bus Eireann Shuffle



[This post continues the travelog from last Friday’s flashback.  I’ve traveled to Ireland with a friend a co-worker, Belle, and have spent a couple of days without her, while I visit Galway and my relatives before reuniting with her in Waterford.]

Monday, March 20, 2006

I spent the better part of the day on a variety of buses,and have finally landed here in Waterford with Belle and her man, the Artist. The house is a good sort, full of books and his art and his dead Swedish wife’s Swedish things. In fact, the house feels more Swedish than Irish for reasons I’m unsure of except a few of the rooms are bright blue and yellow. You can tell life was lived well here for their family before she died several years ago and before the Artist himself got sick with MSA, which has left him weak and with muscles that do not always cooperate as he’d like for them too.


Belle picked me up at the bus station and we went to pick up her man at the osteopath, who is about to turn 40 and to celebrate is going to Malaysia. This seems a bit like celebrating a major event with an eyelid-ectomy to me, but I am not that adventurous. Steven the Osteopath, however, looks like a man who does yoga in his sleep and who will return from Malaysia fully relaxed and epiphinized in ways I will never be. After that we went to Tesco to do some grocery shopping (brown bread, Kerry Gold butter, Dubliner Cheese, and Guinness for me, slightly more healthy things for Belle and Himself.) And now here. Tomorrow is an unknown. If it is sunny, a walking tour of Waterford. If it is rainy, I have no idea. Probably a walking tour of Waterford.


Saturday and Sunday with the  cousins was good. Saturday night we watched Ireland beat England in rugby and win the Triple Crown. (I know nothing about rugby but was told anytime the Irish beat the English at anything it is cause for jubilation.) John and his young son were both so into the match that they were dancing around the TV, screaming at it, and a few times when it got too unnerving, John had to go into the other room to talk to Ginger the Cat in order to calm himself down.


Sunday I got to visit with the other cousins who live at the Homeplace. They have a cozy farmhouse, and the kids entertained me. I left full of tea and Guinness and good stories. One thing I learned that I did not know is that there are World Plowing Championships. Did you know this? Gerry the Cousin goes to them. He says they’d be no use to Americans who can plow however they like because our hot sun will burn off the green bits, but in Ireland if you don’t turn a row correctly the vegetation will grow and then no more row.


His wife and two oldest children are going to be in Chicago in April. It would be fun to see them on American soil, so I hope to make the trip up there. His wife is convinced that I must come back in September to go to the matchmaking festival in Lisdoonvarna, though the other set of cousins warned me off of it later.


On the bus today leaving Galway, I listened to the Saw Doctors sing about the West of Ireland and realized once again, that it is my favorite part of this country. As the bus moved out of County Galway and into County Clare and then further in toward Tipperary, the stone fences and rocky landscape became less and less frequent. It’s all gorgeous, but there is something in Connemara’s harsh landscape that speaks home to me in ways the rest of the country don’t.


Also, I felt a bit hypocritical that I was enjoying watching the lambs frolic and just twelve hours before had been enjoying a lamb dinner. It’s not right. I won’t ever eat lamb at home, but when I’m here and it is served up, I don’t feel like I should refuse. And sadly, it is delicious.


So the six hours on the bus was not so bad. I listened to my iPod shuffle thru various Irish songs and watched the movie of Ireland’s landscape unfold to the soundtrack of my own making.


That’s what I know today.