Friday, June 7, 2013

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why I Love Summer --Reason #1

Ancient Language, Modern Women

Last night, I was on a crowded plane, sitting in front of a group of girls and women who were extremely loud and delightful. They seemed to be unaware of the other passengers as they were returning to their homes in San Diego from a stay in Las Vegas. That seems to say it all--Las Vegas has this "effect" on people and it tends to last until they return to their lesser-than-wild, regular lives. There is a reason the phrase "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" (I just read an old high school friend's PR company came up with this phrase), has become a universal cliche. I am used to more sedate passengers who protect themselves and escape the doldrums of flight and sardine-packed conditions with earphones and immediate sleep. So what else was there to do but enjoy this group's excitement? Especially when one of the women led the others in a kind of chant that ended with a burst of laughter and a cry to use the overhead light as a spotlight. I couldn't help myself and laughed with them. I found them charming in a loud kind of way but following air travel protocol, I kept to myself: a distant, reserved, secret participant in their banter. The flight was short. As we landed, one of the women exclaimed, "What a relaxing flight," to which the man sitting directly to the left of me snorted with resentment and mockery, "Yes, that was a relaxing flight." He was obviously perturbed at their loud behavior, emphasizing with derision again, "That was a real relaxing flight." I felt sorry for the man who had missed the joy in their loudness. As we waited in line to exit the plane, I was almost in a huddle with the group of women. It was then that I noticed, I had never heard their language before. At first, only picking up sporadic phrases, because they spoke mainly in English, I thought their language was Spanish. Now it was clearly not Spanish. I had to break airplane protocol and turned around and asked them what language they spoke. I do not know remember their immediate answer, but they kept chiming in words until I recognized the language: "Iraqi, or it's "Aramic." "It almost sounds like Arabic," or "It is close to Arabic," and finally, the most interesting explanation, "It is the language of Jesus." With that last phrase, I was sort of overwhelmed by the idea that they spoke an ancient language. As I write this today, I easily see them not only as modern women on an airplane, but as a group of women in ancient garb, water jugs balanced on their heads, laughing and conversing as they stroll back to their village--the camaraderie of women not completely different from thousands of years ago.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Before You Go to the Beach

I am a pretty mellow person. I've been accused of being a flower child from the 1960's (I'm too young). Few things upset or anger me (except that day in MGW first semester when no one brought a first draft of their work). Even fewer things prod me to write; I'm a poor candidate for the argumentative response paper. So with that four sentence disclaimer/caveat, I am going to write about something that does upset me because maybe it will make a difference if even one of you is going to the beach this summer. Here goes: The beach is the perfect vacation environment. That sandy beach that slides gently into the water offers an activity for everyone. Children love playing in the sand; teenagers love boogieboarding, surfing, riding the waves; parents love relaxing under an umbrella. The ocean breeze is invigorating, the salt water is healing, the sun is soothing. The variety is incredible: snorkeling, scuba diving, sunbathing, sandcastles, volleyball, is my favorite place to be. I grew up going to the beach, living at the beach, spent my summers at the beach and lived in Santa Monica California just five minutes from the beach. I studied oceanography in Aberdeen Scotland at Aberdeen University. So here's my soapbox. Everyday, I see people collecting seashells at the beach. I have a seashell collection so I think it's a great thing to do. But people do not distinguish between taking live seashells and dead seashells. I cringe when I see a person with a bag full of live sand dollars and depending on my mood and sense of urgency, I sometimes approach the person and explain the difference. I've never had anyone who wasn't grateful, because I've saved them from ruining their car or suitcase. Yes, when you take live sea life, the sea life will die and it will smell putrid. A friend of mine who took a large, live clamshell from the beach, drove home with it, left it in the car and had to have the car professionally detailed to rid it of the smell. So how do you distinguish live shells from empty shells--simply, look inside-if the shell is empty, it has been abandoned and it is yours. You still need to take the shell and soak it in a water/clorox solution to rid it of any live sea creature residue. Sand dollars are different. If there is anything alive on the outside of the dollar, a kind of fur or if it still has color, it is more than likely still alive. Leave it to grow, produce and live out its natural life to someday die and become a decorative fixture in your home. I feel a little bit better. When I retire, at the beach, I think I will be one of those old person docents that teaches children, next to the tide pools, how to conserve ocean life. Bring your kids! This is a live Southern California sand dollar. It uses the hair-like projectiles to move. Taking this would be the equivalent of taking an animal from the zoo, letting it die and throwing it away. This is a newly broken sand dollar that cannot survive. It's a good close-up of the projections that make it mobile. It's easy to see the difference when I compare the two sand dollars to a human body. The purple, live sand dollar has living features like a human and the collectible sand dollar is like a skeleton. If this wasn't broken, it would be a beautiful, collectible, take-home sand dollar. A big fat clam shell. Can I take it home? Turn it over and see if it's alive. When I first saw this shell it was alive and the two halves were connected, but within a half hour, a seagull cracked it open and ate the contents. It's now souvenir eligible but still needs to be scraped and soaked.

On the Eve of Difficult

When my husband and I kayaked the Napali Coast, the one beach we camped at for several days, had sand so thick and deep, it was like trudging through tar. I couldn't think about how I was going to survive, but rather went to that place of survival and strength that we all have and took one moment, or literally, one step at a time. Several days later, I was running down that beach. My legs had adapted that quickly-I was stronger and I experienced the joy of strengthening myself in such a short time. I was sad to leave for several reasons and one of those reasons was trudging through that sand. Every three months, I leave the comfort of my home, my life and make a trek to Las Vegas to care for my father. He is home bound, so my sisters and I give my mother a well deserved break from his everyday care. Before I leave, the pre-stress I feel puts me on a roller coaster ride of emotions, self-doubt, self-loathing and fear. Because it's hard taking care of my father. It brings out the best (compassion, love, sacrifice) and the worst in me (impatience, self-pity and selfishness). It's that continual fight between good and evil and I find that struggle within myself. But it is that struggle where I find my strength. Caring for Dad is two days behind me now and after the initial day of sacrifice, I actually enjoyed my time with him. He is kind, sweet and dependent and how else could I show my love for him? So, the point of writing this and revealing my weaknesses is that I see a parallel between this and being a student. I see a lot of this behavior when my students need to write or read. There is an initial fear or rebellion that often results in procrastination and once the student immerses in the task, the student usually enjoys it and even finds growth at the end. And when the strong leg muscles are no longer required, the student will even miss the challenge. So, make your life easy: don't dread what you perceive as difficult-just do it- hardly an original thought or advice you haven't heard before, but how many times do you, do I, have to suffer before we take it?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I saw this on a commercial that popped up on my computer screen. I not only learned about a moment in history but also saw an innovative connection to a car. The real olympic moment: The ad application: