My uncle Quin died today. Born in Mississippi, he traveled the world as a geologist. To Cuba, before Castro. To Alaska, before it became a state. To Algeria and all over the Middle East. Once, in the 1930's he traveled to the wilds of Upstate New York, where he met and married my aunt. Visits from Uncle Quin & Aunt Billie were momentous occasions in my life. They came with suitcases loaded with presents from their travels. Dolls, textiles, treasures, music, food, stories. Once they brought King Crabs from Alaska that were so large we didn't have a pot to fit them. Those magical nights when the family would gather at my grandparents' house for their arrival were like a troubador visiting a remote medieval village. Out of those voluminous suitcases, out of this jet-lagged, laconic man with the rich Southern accent, came the world. When he awoke in the morning, I would beg him to take me fishing in the Susquehanna, just down the hill from our house. With his pipe and fishing tackle, we would descend through the weedy cow pasture to the river. I don't remember anyone else taking me fishing, just the man who had just flown into Albany from Oman. Always busy, even on "vacation", he built me a sandbox and taught me about gardening. He was so grounded, yet they moved constantly. To England, when my Aunt was weary of the Middle East. To Texas, when his field work came to an end. Penultimately, to Florida, where he had a whole swamp in his backyard to turn into a garden, despite the snakes and alligators. Finally, they returned home to Alaska, where they had raised their children, survived the earthquake of 1964 and found a community to hold their restless spirits. It's a place that looms large in my imagination, although I have never been. I'm sorry that I never got to visit him there. Thank you, Uncle Quin. You made my world a much richer, bigger place and I hope to pass that on to my children. Maybe I will take them fishing in Alaska one day.
Postscript: Here is his obituary. I forgot to mention that he was a pilot in WWII in the South Pacific. He was also "human computer" and quant who wrote a book called "The Solution of Equations in a Field".
- Current Location:Home
- Current Mood: melancholy
I was out at a farm in the suburbs looking at baby goats when I heard the news on April 15, 2013. The buzz spread through the parents in the barn and I went outside to check twitter & field anxious messages from family. We stayed at the farm as long as we could, then drove back in to the city.
My office on Boylston Street, was closed the following day, since it was inside of the crime scene perimeter. Wednesday it opened and I went in, full of trepidation, making sure to hug & kiss my kids goodbye. I thought of walking all the way but decided to get on the train and see how I felt. The other passengers were silent. Dour, anxious, suspicious. Too afraid to pass through the closed train station at Copley, my stop, I got off at Hynes, gulping for air as I ran upstairs. Newbury looked oddly normal as I walked the first block. Except for the police and soldiers on patrol. Except for the quiet. The closed stores. No traffic. On the first cross street it hit me like a cannonball in the stomach. The blocked off street was filled with trash, the things dropped when ten thousand people fled for their lives. Water bottles, hats, mylar blankets, bags, signs, jackets, bottles - all guarded by police officers in vests & helmets. As I walked up the street the scene grew more surreal. Media trucks, posters of encouragement, FBI trailers, more police, more trash. I made it up to where I could cross to my building, where a memorial was being created with bundles of flowers and shoes and stricken, sad people staring down the closed street with TV cameras and security everywhere. I ducked into the calm of my building, which seemed like a sanctuary except for the fact that our windows face west and look right out on Copley Square.
The closed street haunted us. It remained a crime scene for weeks as the area and all the trash was all searched by dogs, cops and people in white suits. Otherwise, it was silent and empty. Just mylar blankets blowing in the wind. I'd get a cup of coffee and stare out at the post-apocalyptic scene outside our windows.
It got to me. The horror of that day sunk in deep, even though I was not in any danger. I was thoroughly terrified. Terrorized. The second day, I dared to ride the train all the way home, holding my breath, my heart pounding, as we passed through the dark, closed train station. Nothing happened to me. I was a victim of my imagination more than the Tsarnaev brothers, but it persists. As I found out the day of the fire, the memory of danger is powerful.
I am in awe of the people who are going back. The runners, the medical staff, the families and volunteers who are returning to the marathon. One of my colleagues is going to run. Her courage is inspiring but I can't begin to match it. I'm not ready for tomorrow. I'll take the kids up to see the start of the marathon as it passes through our town, then we'll drive out to the country to find some goats.
- Current Mood:ashamed
I have a very vivid memory of the first time I read "One Hundred Years of Solitude". I was home from college, It was probably 1987 and I went to the lake. Lying on the beach, I read the last third of the book. I was totally engrossed in it. When I reached the end, where one realizes that they are reading the book that is written in the book, I felt dizzy. I sat up, extremely disoriented, to find myself on a beach in upstate New York. The spell of his words was profound. Having been transported, I couldn't bear to be outside of that world and I turned back to the first page.
This book was my first exposure to what is called "magic realism" but which is now, at least in my library, called a good story.
A great light has gone out of the world, but it has ignited a creative forest fire.
- Current Mood:Mournful
On New Year's Eve, I saw a Dan Zanes concert and he led us in singing "Turn, Turn, Turn" with lyrics for kids, written by Toshi Seeger's wife, instead of the text of Ecclesiastes.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
The tune is resonating with me this year. I hope I learn to appreciate the time I have, to take advantage of opportunities and not feel anxious about things that have passed by or are still on the horizon. Turn, turn, turn.
- Current Location:500 Boylston
- Current Mood:reflective
- Current Music:classical
- Current Location:Brookline
- Current Mood: tired
- Current Music:Red Sox baseball
- Current Location:Brookline
- Current Mood:Reflective
I'm waking up every night with anxiety attacks about my daughter's upcoming bat mitzvah which is in 3 weeks. They last from 1-2 hours. The next day, I'm exhausted, which means it's hard to get things done which means more anxiety and so on and so forth and scooby doobie doobie. This is like planning a wedding or the invasion of Normandy except that people will have comfy beds and blintzes. The important things are covered. My daughter knows her stuff, prayers and Torah and reading from Isaiah, food is ordered, guests RSVPing but what about table decorations and shoes and the kids' karaoke party? I'm going to be early tonight, expecting to wake up at 2:30 or so to freak out. Reminds me of having a newborn. I'm hoping the writing will help.
- Current Location:Up a river without a paddle
- Current Mood: anxious
- Current Music:Pounding of my heart
- Current Location:Couch, Brookline
- Current Mood: cheerful
- Current Music:I've Got Everything that I Need
- Current Location:Brookline
- Current Location:Neverwhere
- Current Mood:Mournful
- Current Music:Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys,