Back in Moscow after time with family in FL… and now it is down to nuts and bolts of moving. At first I thought, “There’s little that’s poetic about packing boxes, alerting the utilities company, making sure I have temporary health insurance, filling out a change of address form at the post office…” I notice, though, that I used to worry a lot and I just don’t do that anymore. That’s one of the main things I got out of The Landmark Forum. Life is so much more peaceful now. I notice the poetry and beauty around me so much more. Today I noticed how huge the lavender along the side of my house grew in my brief absence. Beauty abounds.

Mufasa update: I found out that unlike other airlines, Continental will fly dogs in the summer because they use air conditioned facilties. Mufasa and I both will fly from Atlanta on August 9. It’s amazing how once I found the right path, everything is just falling into place.

Late at night before I sleep, I’ve been reading travel books on all the things to do near my new home. There are several ancient Italian towns along the lake — Morcote, Gandria. I will take ferries to them. I look forward to it. I also look forward to finding someone to hike with hut to hut. Switzerland has a great hut system with chefs in the huts! What fun. Hope you’ll join me!

Daytona Beach, June 2005

Several of my cousins were missing from the annual family reunion on Daytona Beach… but a good time was had by all who attended! I love that we do this every June. It’s great to see my cousins’ and brother’s kids get bigger each year. The highlight this year was definitely the four-generation whiffle ball game on the beach! The sky is so beautiful behind us here. The surf was up most of the weekend. It was cool for FL in late June and gorgeous. It’s funny how even though we only see each other a couple of times a year, in our conversations Kristen and I just pick up right where we left off…

Taylor Mali

An old flame referred me to a great Web site: Taylor Mali’s.

My new favorite poem is there. I also love this audio poem, What Teachers Make — this is what my former love referred me to in the first place. My students told me yesterday that Mali visited campus last year and was great. I’m so sorry I missed him.

In finding my voice, and in creating these blogs and sharing them with friends, I’ve encountered poetry again — in Helen’s blogs, in Andrew’s lyrical way, in Katia’s brother’s music.

I’m finding my way back to poetry. For now, enjoy Taylor Mali. I’m off; students await.

Finding my voice

I wrote that phrase in my gratitude journal today, and then realized that it means so many different things. There’s this voice, the writing voice… finding it and letting it loose on the world, not being afraid to share it and see what happens next. There’s risk in that, you know.

Then there’s finding the voice inside that has things to say. I get lost sometimes, forget who I am. In those times I sometimes go years without singing, and this is really what I want to write about:

I think it may have started with Debbie Boone’s “You Light Up My Life.” I had a Mr. Microphone, did you?   There was something about the register of “You Light Up My Life;” I think her voice might be lower than most pop stars I’d heard… something about that song had me feel singing in my body in a way I’d never known before.

And then for years I sang and sang and sang. I never wanted to give my life over to it, but I love to sing for people. Those years when I am lost to myself, I don’t sing — not even in the shower. Sometimes I forget what it’s like.

Lately I’ve been singing a lot, though, and I wish that I could bottle it or share the feeling with you. Today I stood in front of a mirror singing, trying to think of how to write what it’s like, to share this… where is the resonance, how would I describe the sound when it’s just right and good? How could I convey the surprise when that beauty just comes out — just walking down the street?! What an awesome built-in entertainment system! It still surprises me. Sometimes I sing the same verse or line over and over, just all by myself, because I’m surprised I can do some little trill, a tone, a particular sound. It’s like slowly rolling a piece of fine dark chocolate around in your mouth for a while, savoring its rich 70% cocoa goodness.

This must be what it’s like when little toddling boys find their penises. I wish I could share. That could explain a lot of disconcerting playground behavior.

DISCLAIMER/ADDENDUM: People have reacted in funny ways to these last few lines. I have several friends who are currently occupied with their 2-year-old little boys. Many of them tell funny stories… one recently posted a blog about a little boy taking off all his clothes at a public playground… a sort of “Look what I have!” expression. That’s what I was thinking about — nothing x-rated or grown up, just that innocent wonder at our our physical beings.

Our chosen places

Boulder was home for over a decade. When home is a chosen place, it’s different. It’s not like moving here because I needed a safe escape, because I had a job. Boulder was my chosen place and I left because I needed somewhere else to go. I don’t feel like I can (or want to) go back to Boulder any more, but I made beautiful music with friends I’ll have forever, intellectual connections with so many people young and old through the University. I loved the dry air blowing hard over the mountains, hiking, cross-country skiing and camping up in them. I loved the coffeeshops and restaurants on Pearl Street. I loved rollerblading, walking and bicycling through town. I loved the deep greens and bright blues, the stark white of the snow-capped mountains. I loved the winter mornings when the Flatirons looked like chocolate cake sprinkled with powdered sugar. I feel connected to the place in ways I cannot name, even if it is no longer home. I am going there again in a few weeks. I’m so happy to have parties planned, and I’m thrilled to spend long evenings with my girlfriends. I didn’t want to leave them. I’m a little bit worried about it. A year ago, I had to turn my back, steel myself and go. I have moved on and am extremely happy with my new path, but I wonder if there is a reservoir of regret and sadness deep inside, a dam that may break when I arrive. I want to hot air balloon over Boulder when I’m there.

Around every corner in Boulder there are ghosts of moments past — whose bridal shower were we on when the guy dropped his pants on the Pearl Street Mall? How much money over the years did we make singing with a hat out there? How many students did I teach in ten years? How many different apartments did I live in?! How many pieces of that fabulous Brillig Works hazelnut and chocolate cake did I eat in the Trident? I can still hear Beth, Juliet and I laughing there late at night. And I am reminded of the quote of Karen Blixen’s in Out of Africa, “If I know a song of Africa… does it know a song of me?” (I went to her house in Denmark once. That’s a funny stupid American tourist story for later.) If I sing this song of Boulder, will it sing its song for me?

The funny thing about this is that I think I’d outgrown Boulder anyway, and it had changed from what I’d loved. Life is working out perfectly. Maybe it was time for me to go and I didn’t even know it.

You know, there’s something else I come back to again and again… nothing in my early life prepared me for all this change. Seems like in my family things always just stay the same (knock on wood out there, will you?). I still relate to change as if it’s bad. I’ve got to get my head around that it’s not wrong to adventure like I do — or to enjoy it.

Life on the lake.

My new colleague in Lugano asked if I like to sea kayak. It’s one of my favorite activities on the planet. Do I want to buy this boat and he’ll have it shipped over to Lugano with his family’s stuff?… he asked me. We’ll start a club kayaking on the lake every Friday. Am supremely happy about this. It folds up, so we can do travel courses (twice a year we get to lead two week courses anywhere on the planet) with students… sea kayaking all over the world. I think first we’ll go to Baja Spring Break to hang out with the whales. How cool is that?

… with abandon

That Mario Batali quote two posts down has got me thinking about my truth. Part of my truth is definitely about doing things with abandon. It’s sometimes scary, sometimes dangerous, sometimes foolish and I do or say things I may wish I could take back… but at the end of it all I think I’ll be happy I’ve lived that way. I love that phrase “…with abandon.” What if we all lived, loved, worked, played with abandon?

GREAT quote on Truth and Rules

mario_bataliMario Batali, Chef, Graduation speech, Rutgers College

Pay attention to the truth. It’s not an intellectual thing. It’s a gut thing. My truth is that I love real, honest, passionate, intense experiences. Experiences that don’t apologize for themselves or claim to be something they aren’t. …

You want a recipe? Boil some spaghetti in well-salted water. While you’re doing that, heat up some good extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet and throw in some thin slices of garlic and some red pepper flakes. When the pasta’s cooked, toss it in the skillet. Throw in some chopped parsley and a little of the pasta water. Toss it around. Put it on a plate. Grate some Parmigiano Reggiano on top.

Congratulations, dude. You’ve just made spaghetti all’aglio e olio. One of the greatest simple truths of humankind – and a damn good emergency dinner. That’s a recipe.

It’s an idea. It’s a dish. It’s an icon. It’s an experience. It’s not rules.

And as you cook up your life, I hope you never let anyone else’s recipe for success intimidate you or get in your way. Rules are overrated.

Happy boy!

Everything’s going so smoothly with this move except the dog stuff. The airlines won’t fly him in the heat of summer, the villa won’t allow dogs and I don’t know if the flight will be too hard on him. I want to take him, but all my reasons for taking him are pretty selfish. I don’t know what I’ll do… and I am trying very hard not to be upset about this yet. There’s no point in being upset about this now.

You know how they say dogs start to look like their people? Tell me this dog’s presence and smile isn’t just like me! I should scan my drivers’ license photo in here next to him. The resemblance is uncanny. HA!