Tags: New York Times, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Women and the Law
Too gorgeous out to write a long post — need to get my work done and get outside! But please click on this link to see the “Opinion” column — a fusion of art and photos and observation — in today’s Times. It is a subtly provoking and lovely musing on women and the law.
Tags: backpacking, Buddha's Eyes, Nepal, traveling, wanderlust
As some readers know, I traveled almost around the world from July 1999 through March 2000, armed only with an Arcteryx backpack. I have no pictures of that trip, only three journals, densely packed with my minuscule, typewriter-like handwriting. Someday I’ll get the nerve to look back at them and write something meaningful.
I don’t think of that trip either with frequency or urgency, but every now and again I’m pulled back. For example, just this past weekend, Little Bug and I were taking an early Saturday morning walk. Believe it or not, among the boutiques on Newbury is a Buddhist gift shop called Prem-La, and swinging over the door is a big sign with the “Buddha’s Eyes.”
“Owl? Owl!” pointed Buggy at the sign.
See, they do kind of look like owls’ eyes (isn’t my baby smart?). I don’t think I had ever really noticed that store before other than to perhaps note the Tibetan prayer flags out of the corner of my eye and wonder in passing how on earth a store like that stayed in business. But, now, those Buddha’s eyes immediately (I’m not being dramatic — the connection was intense) transported me to the wondrous and yet frightening three weeks I spent in Nepal, subsisting on garlic soup (for the altitude sickness) and staggering up some 18,000 feet to cross Thorung-La on the Annapurna circuit. Those eyes were all over Nepal — on stupas, homes, t-shirts — and were utterly otherworldly, mesmerizing to me then.
And then, tonight I stumbled upon this Times article on the revamping of European backpackers’ hostels into something a bit more upscale than the stereotype. Oh, but how I lived the stereotype for the first four months of that journey as I traipsed across Europe — in the first hostel I ever stayed in, in Amsterdam, where I was almost too tall for the stairwell and was almost electrocuted by a shower head that inexplicably shared space with the overhead lightbulb. Or at the hostel in Normandy filled with happy Brits and lots of very cheap, very good French wine, which was drunk into the 10 p.m. summer dusk as we relived the day’s tour of the D-Day beaches. Or the hostel in Sevilla, smelling like cat pee, and next door to potentially the best bar in the world, La Carboneria, where a group of Australians tried to recruit me to help them drive their ambulance across Europe (for real). Further east, the only bus or train out of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic left at 9 a.m., so travelers at the Australian-run hostel ended up staying days, weeks, or months past their intended departure because the amount of (real) absinthe consumed often made it hard to get out of the hard, wooden bunk beds before noon. (On my first night there I heard a distinct “thud” from one of the common bunk rooms. “What was that?” I asked another guest. “Oh, it must have been one of the Australians falling out of the top bunk again.”) One of my favorite hostels was the Mountain Hostel in Grindlewald, in the Bernese Oberland of Switzerland, in the shadow of the Eiger, where dinner was an almost cliched combination of cheese, chocolate, and French bread and the duvets soft and clean. One of the worst was in Budapest and was called, simply, “Back Pack Hostel.” Here, travelers slept on mattresses on the floor, seven or eight to a room. My room was in a musty basement, and I distinctly remember waking up in the middle of the night to see a random dog skulking around the floor (ugh!). (Check out the website if you have time — the pictures say it all…)
The Times article describes hostels filled with wi-fi, internet access, bars, and private baths. That sounds nice. The article, however, also had pictures of the hostels’ common rooms — much nicer than the ones I remembered — but what really affected me (and inspired this post) were the travelers themselves, pictured relaxing over foosball, a cafe table, a drink. More likely than not, they had met only hours earlier. More likely than not they would head out together that evening for drinks and would stay up very late, sharing stories and perhaps shots of absinthe (take a teaspoon full of sugar, dip it in the absinthe, and then light it on fire; the sugar will liquify, then stir it back into the absinthe to cut the bitterness). They might even travel together for a few days, as I ended up doing with the aforementioned Australian ambulance drivers (we re-met in Tangier while waiting for a train to Marrakesh; re-meeting the same group of crazy Australians is not as random as it sounds).
These pictures made me nostalgic — achingly so — for such spontaneous moments of camaraderie. I’ll never travel avec backpack again — I don’t particularly want to — but I also realize with certainty that neither will I stagger off an overnight train and explore the cobblestones of a new city at dawn. I actually would like to do that again, just as I’d like to drink cheap Italian (French, Spanish) wine outside, maybe gazing up at some European church steeples or some Alps, with strangers/new friends until the light fades away.
Tags: Boston Marathon
A beautiful weekend in Boston. Lots of action in our neighborhood — Newbury Street is thronged with marathoners in their florescent jackets and t-shirts. This morning brought the women’s professional mile championship — four very very fast laps from Arlington, down Newbury, to Exeter, then down Boylston to the marathon finish line. Tomorrow is the marathon. I’ll be at work instead of watching the runners take the turn down Hereford towards Boylston and then watching the finishers walk, run, and stagger in all afternoon from our bedroom window, but part of me will wish I were out there staggering in with them (has it been 12 years?).
A few shots from the weekend:
Dancing and singing with an a capella group from BU. (A future Tigression, I think!)
Enthralled by a dog statute.
The closest she’ll ever come to kissing a dog (I hope).
Sunny afternoon at the playground. Vroom vroom!
Well, no, but I am a little obsessed with them at the moment, and with this view from my office window, I spend my days watching the huge container ships come in and out of the harbor. Today brought a particularly large one (I hope you get a sense of the scale — notice the Harbor Hotel in the very foreground — despite the non-iPhone photo), and I just imagined it coming into port from way out in the ocean, dodging pirates on its way.
What I will miss when we move to the suburbs: walking to work across the Public Garden and running into not one but two good friends.
And I will miss bringing Buggy to play on the ducks (dressed here in their Easter finest).
Real ducks (below).
Tags: Catholicism, Easter weekend, Good Friday, Master's weekend
It’s Good Friday, and I am at work. I realized this morning that I have never worked on Good Friday before. The good lord knows that I am hardly an observant Catholic anymore; however, I feel strangely guilty for being here (even though it’s not like I would be in church or something otherwise).
Good Friday used to mean those three hours Masses where you weren’t allowed to sit down. Catholicism is still a central tenant of my identity, more cultural than religious, but to this day if I go to a church service that is not Catholic, it doesn’t quite feel like church (even an Episcopal service — the Lord’s Prayer is just ever so slightly different at the end…)
We’re not going to church this weekend.* And I hadn’t really thought about making an Easter basket for Little Buggy (to my mother’s horror — but don’t worry: we have been invited to some Easter egg hunts with friends and their children, so at least she can observe that pagan ritual). I do sometimes wonder if I’m doing the right thing by not introducing religion to my child. Tim would argue that we are absolutely doing the right thing, but I think his more traditional (think: lots of kids, Catholic school) religious upbringing has scarred him more than it has me. Still, a nice, liberal, welcoming church with lots of music and stories of love and goodness (such as the church in which we baptized Buggy — see my prior post on that lovely day, here) would be something I could get into — if it didn’t conflict with naptime.
I’m surprised that today is not a holiday at the Firm — it’s a market holiday, and we are in one of the most Catholic cities in the country. The halls seem somewhat quiet today, and I haven’t received many emails, so even though this is no longer a religious holiday for me, I think I shall mark it in my own way by sneaking out a bit early, taking a long run on the river in the spring sunshine, and taking my baby to the playground.
*In addition to this being Easter weekend, it is also Master’s Weekend, a holiday in its own right that borders on the religious in our house. You think I’m kidding.
Apparently, some people want to know where I have been. Am I not writing because I’ve run off on sabbatical and am now in Paris, typing this into my iPhone (because I bought one as soon as I ditched the firm-issued Blackberry) whilst sipping Cote du Rhone in a cafe on the Seine (with Little Buggy speaking fluent toddler French next to me)? Sadly, no. Well, sad that I’m not in Paris. Not sad that I’m not on a sabbatical (read on…).
A loyal blog reader (and friend) emailed me this morning to see what had happened to me now that I’ve disappeared from the Internet (as you might remember from last year, she is the friend who gave up Facebook for Lent. She has done so again this year, so she cannot keep tabs on me that way, either…) I sent her back a quick email and thought I’d post it here both in the interest of time and for a brief update: