Monday, June 30, 2014

Feat #18: Pacific!

This likely won't be the last swimming post of my 50 physical feats project. Because, well, swimming.

I'm not sure the photo quite does this feat justice because it was hard to capture the size and power of the waves. The little dots are Jack's head and my head. We negotiated the post-storm surf several times during our stay in Acapulco to enjoy the relative calm beyond.

It's not hard to get out past the breakers because you can dive through them. Getting back to dry land, though, is tricky. While we did get better at timing our exits, I can't say I always managed the strong undertow gracefully. Or that I didn't end up with lots of sand in my suit.

But I will say that after the last of my dips in the Pacific, I caught the eye of the young lifeguard, and I'm pretty sure the admiring nod he gave me was for my middle-aged bravery.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Feat #17: Lives in My Hands

From time to time, I take elderly neighbors who have given up driving to places they need to go. Grounding themselves is the right thing to do, but it's hard for them to lose their independence. I know it will be hard for me one day, and I hope I manage that transition gracefully.

In the meantime, I love having the chance to push my driving skills beyond the norm. And what better place to do it than Mexico City with a cute little rented stick shift? It may not be the worst city in the world to drive in, but it definitely ranks up there.

I won't lie; there were a few crazy moments. But just like my school French surfaced every time I tried to speak Spanish, the instincts I developed young in Boston were right there when I needed them.

Adorable Fiat parked by Maryann's Coyoacan apartment, all packed up for a road trip!
Don't let her relatively quiet street fool you!
Returning the car without a scratch on it :)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Feat #16: Rest Stop

Almost every time we went on a road trip as a family while I was growing up, Dad would make a point of finding some where along the route to get us in the water. I remember community swimming pools, cold mountain lakes, rivers, ponds, oceans. Pretty much any body of water would do.

And as a kid, I loved it! My hair was long and straight, and changing in and out of a suit was a breeze. Then I became a grownup, I needed things like privacy and a hair dryer, and I married someone who will swim but who rarely actually thinks of swimming. Now I have a son, and I want him to know the pleasure of stopping in the middle of a road trip on a hot day for a refreshing dip.

I've long wanted to check out Sand Hallow reservoir with red rocks to dive from just off I-15 near Hurricane, Utah, and we decided to stop there on the way home from Las Vegas last week. We drove the winding road all the way to the entrance of the state park and discovered a big sign that read "Warning: Swimmer's Itch." So not worth the risk. Hopes dashed.

But we'd passed a sign for Quail Creek reservoir on the way, so we stopped to check it out on the way back to the highway. Not, perhaps, as stunning a setting, but the water was cool and free of swimmer's itch. Ah!

Quail Creek Reservoir, June 2014
(And my hair even looked decent after air drying! A benefit of growing wirier hair as I age, I think.)

Friday, June 27, 2014


We've been experiencing quite a bit of seismic activity in our faith community the past few weeks--the kind we have experienced about every 20 years during my lifetime, but which has been amplified this time around through social media as events have unfolded.

Shortly after I heard the news of pending disciplinary action against several members who have been vocal advocates of change in the church, including a woman who leads a group seeking female ordination, I visited one of Diego Rivera's famous murals which depicts figures in Mexican history. The image of Catholic nun Juana Inés de la Cruz happened to catch my eye.

According to the key at the museum, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was "the most famous poet in New Spain" in the 1600s. "In a sense she was the forerunner in the struggle for equality of women. In her exquisite poetry she defended women's rights to education and culture and to freely express their innermost feelings, a standard unheard and unacceptable at that time (emphasis mine)."

Reading that was a poignant and painful and hopeful reminder both of how far we have come and how far we have to go. I know I struggle daily with how and when and where to use my voice in many areas.

Today this is what I want to say.

For as long as I can remember, I have known women who have felt diminished, for one reason or another, in the patriarchal church. Sometimes it has been me. The challenges that this imbalance between masculine and feminine energy present and the sincere desire some women feel to engage more fully and deeply in the spiritual life of the community are not new and not so mysterious.

What I yearn for on behalf of so many is a genuine attempt to understand their experiences instead of a reflexive dismissal, even when they don't express them in orthodox ways or if the ideas they put forward for change aren't going to fly. I yearn for the respect of real dialogue and unambiguous answers.

It can be pretty tough expressing innermost feelings. A "we hear you" helps.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Feat #15: Yeah, But Here's My Grammie Doing It, Too

Me at 50, Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan, 2014
Grammie in her 70s, Chichen Itza, circa 1985

Grammie and I both made it to the top, and, perhaps more importantly, made it back down again. Hope I'm still climbing pyramids in 25 years!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How My Universe Works

On our way home from Mexico City last week, we stopped for a night in Las Vegas. As soon as we checked into our hotel, Jack and I headed for a swim, which is a great antidote for a day spent in taxis and airports and on airplanes.

I'm still not quite sure what to make of 19-year-old Vito, who started up what turned out to be a lengthy conversation with me in the pool. He was born in Milan, but is lately from Australia. In town for a tech convention.

As we talked, I was trying to remember my short visit to Milan when I was 17. The Last Supper. A transportation strike. And some building with arched glass ceilings, but I couldn't place it.

No kidding, the very next day, a friend traveling in Italy posted this photo of the train station there. Mystery solved.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No Words

It can be challenging to travel in another country when you don't speak the language. Not just because logistics are more complicated, but because it can make you feel so isolated. Our trip to Mexico was Jack's first experience with this, and even though my sister speaks Spanish and could translate for us when we were all together, it was a bit jarring for him.

So I especially loved it whenever we made a human connection without language.

The kind man in the metro, for example, who helped Jack through a turnstile when it didn't work on the first try. The security guard who helped us figure out the keys to get into Maryann's apartment while she was at work. The guard at a museum who graciously lent me the pen in his shirt pocket when I desperately wanted to make some notes but hadn't taken my bag in with me. The energy of the crowd in the restaurant when we watched Mexico hold its own against Brazil in a World Cup game.

And the sandy little girl we met on the beach in Pie de la Cuesta. She struck up a conversation with Maryann in Spanish, but drew us in, too, with a song and a smile.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sí, Pero No

Maryann in San Angel, Mexico City, 2014
Jack and I had a wonderful time with my sister in Mexico City and Acapulco! Maryann has been living in Coyoacan since January, so she had some good tips for us. One discussion we had about how to gracefully handle vendors who are eager to make a sale was especially helpful.

"No, gracias" ended up being our go-to response, but Maryann explained that many people in Mexico will actually say "sí, pero no" - yes, but no - to get around giving a flat out "no."

I like that it's a way of acknowledging that you hear people before turning them down.

And, hehehe, it's now my go-to response to Jack, when he makes requests like, "Can I have that $20 bill in your wallet?"

Nice try. Sí, pero no.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


I'm not leaving town yet, but I'm going to start my blogging hiatus today because I have a lot to do before I go. Will be back to my goal of daily posts in a few weeks!

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

In Threes

Jack is on his third phone in about a month. He lost his, then he took over my old phone and it got soaked on a water ride at Lagoon last week. Roger took him today to get a new one. Lucky boy ended up with a reasonably priced smart phone that he can also use to replace the iPod he accidentally dropped in the toilet a few weeks ago. (And, boom, Roger even renegotiated our contract so our monthly bill will actually go down five dollars a month.)

But here's the important part of the story.

We first got Jack a phone when he started seventh grade, mostly so that we could connect while he was walking home from school and I was driving home from work in the afternoons. For nearly three years Jack kept very careful track of his phone. 

Sometimes, we told him, things just happen. And happen. And happen.

Monday, June 02, 2014

A Pull on my Soul

Thinking about an upcoming trip to Mexico. I can't quite express how much I am looking forward to immersing myself in the place where I discovered the depth of my wanderlust at 16.

What is it that I love about traveling far from home? I think it's that I am not myself and I am more myself all at the same time.

And, when it's someplace like Mexico, palm trees.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Think Global, Shop Local

Okay, so this isn't exactly what the people who coined that expression had in mind, but found at our neighborhood grocery store: