Booking a vacation
I dream very intensely on the first few days of a vacation, as my brain reorganizes its hard drive. Weird hallucinogenic dreams feather into each other, dredging up dramas, ancient and new. Old bosses, old addresses, old mistakes, reappear in new masks to cavort on the brinks of skyscrapers or wrestle in Jello®. It’s like File Day, as rusty drawers squeak open, folders and envelopes get hauled out and dumped in piles, sifted through, tossed or reformatted. All this housework doesn’t necessarily result in clarity but it’s an important part of growing and assimilating experiences.
Here, however, are a few of the things I gleaned while lying poolside:
• It’s a mistake to start a vacation by saying, “I sure hope nobody gets sick on this trip.” I am a hardy type, rarely sick, but in Tuscany I got a virulent ear infection (my first in thirty five years); in Puerto Rico, Jack got chicken pox; on the Jersey shore, I got poison ivy (that required two courses of steroids) and so, inevitably, we succumbed in the Dominican Republic too: head colds, coughs, skin allergy, sunburn, insomnia, and diarrhea made for a fun time.
• Cheap rum is cheap for a reason.
• Al Franken is funny, right, and a bit too much of a shrill wonk.
• You can only draw so many palm trees and no one but Albert Bierstadt should try to paint sunsets.
• The Da Vinci Code is an abominably written regurgitation of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, a preposterous best seller I read ten years ago and is just a disservice to Leonardo. It wreaks with wooden dialogue, leaden characters and lumbering plot twists and treats art like some sort of word jumble. Wait for the TNT miniseries to come out.
• European and South American pop music uses harmonizing vocal chorus in almost every hit. American pop almost never does.
•Jhumpa Lahiri richly deserved her Pulitzer prize. Many of the characters in The Namesake are still hanging around me, offering me pakoras. I can’t wait for her next one.
• Rapidographs leak after air travel.
• How to be Good suggests that Nick Hornby may have been a one or possibly two book wonder.
• I still love James Herriot, almost as much as I did at twelve.
• Sixpence House is the story of Paul Collins’ year in Hay-on-Waye, the Welsh town with 1,500 inhabitants and 40 antiquarian bookstores. He is a deep and infectious bibliophile and the book is very entertaining. If you love sifting through shelves of dusty obscure books that no one has read in a century (as I do), it’s worth a quick read.
• Topless sunbathers make me yearn for more covering, rather than less.
• A.P.P.B. (Always Pack Peanut Butter)
• It’s nice to go traveling, but, oh, so nice to come home.