Sunday, November 30, 2008

West With the Night

"Why am I gazing at this campfire like a lost soul seeking a hope when all that I love is at my wingtips? Because I am curious. Because I am incorrigibly now, a wanderer."
-West With the Night, by Beryl Markham

Beryl, a race horse trainer turned airplane pilot in the 1920s & 30s, was raised and spent most of her life in the country she loved, Africa. Reading her memoir now I can't help but relate to every word on the page, but this quote especially stood out to me as a wonderful expression of what it means to be an eternal wanderer. It's not as if the place you stand has no value. In fact, once gone from it, nostalgia often takes over, creating lasting memories that lean toward exaggeration. What was once a pretty fun time, becomes a pinnacle of enjoyment. What was once a relaxing vacation, becomes the utmost time of Zen in your life. So, yes, there is a great deal of value in the current position, place and time. But what underlines it all is an undying urge to try something new. To explore new territory and devour new experiences. And no one did that better than Beryl. As a small girl she wanted to hunt like the Murani tribesmen, so she shadowed them every chance she could get, despite near death escapes from lions and other jungle predators. She wanted to train horses like her father, so she did, on her own at the age of seventeen in the middle of a largely unexplored, wild land. She wanted to fly planes, so she learned to fly a Gypsy Moth, over elephant herds and into villages that no cars could go. She amazes me, but what gives me pause is the question, "Would I amaze her?" Probably not. So this is what I'm going to work on. This is my New Years Resolution. To amaze Beryl Markham posthumously. It's as good a goal as any other, and definitely more rewarding than being five pounds slimmer or giving up my morning cup of coffee. If I'm going to be a wanderer, I better get my moccasins on and start moving.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fun with Flan

Just a quick observation about my new neighborhood. The one difference I've noticed living in a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood is that no matter what grocery store you find yourself in, there is an abundance of flan for sell. All shapes, sizes and flavors. Coffee-flavored flan at Fresh & Easy - who ever heard of such a hybrid? I never realized to what extent flan was a truly popular dessert. I thought it was just one of those cultural things that people talk about but never really eat, like fruit cake for caucasians. My last memory of flan was a flan food fight we had at my high school in the cafeteria. That stuff can really fly, and it's quite buoyant, even against wool-blended plaid skirts. Plus, it stays in its original form during air transit no matter the velocity of your throw, which is nice if you are aiming at a particular person, such as that b***h who had the nerve to invite your boyfriend to Homecoming or that dork who dressed as Xena the Warrior Princess on career day. So I guess what I'm saying is, when in Rome do as the Romans and get yourself some dragonberry flan and call it a day.