Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Secret Camera

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My name is Inigo Montoya...

Everyone who grew up in the 80s knows The Princess Bride. The adventure, quirky story lines (Billy Crystal and Carol Kane, anyone? Who could have been funnier? Even Andre the Giant, may he RIP, who despite innate lack of acting ability, managed to shine), and of course, true love, made for a prototypical teenage following. Probably ranking up there with 80s love-angst-y films like "Say Anything," it's the story that combines adventure with the undeniable anthem of every little girl: fairy tale love where your prince crosses oceans, land and, well, swamps to fight for his one true love.

But, have you read the book?

I have-- it was my "treat" one finals term at Vassar. To ensure optimum focus and limit distractions, I used to motivate myself with a treat when I was studying or writing a paper. Sometimes it was getting to change the music (I would make myself listen to the same cd until a paper was written; I'd get to have an ice cream when I finished a chapter (or 10); got to read a "fun" book (rather than school book) when I finished a subject. One time it was reading The Princess Bride (which, if anyone is interested, IS in the Vassar library).

While for the most part the movie follows the storyline of the book, the author's voice is not as defined in the film. And he's (yes, it's a he) funny. He's jaded, and somewhat acerbic (which, I suppose, does comes across in some of his characters), and sarcastic. It's part of the funny. And he doesn't believe in love-- or, so he'd like you to think. He channels the more "realistic" emotionally scarred, cynical disbelief into certain characters while letting others believe, in ignorant bliss, that fairy tales do exist. Take this passage from the preface of the book, for example:

"...but to take the title words-- 'true love and high adventure'-- I believed in that once. I thought my life was going to follow that path. Prayed that it would. Obviously it didn't, but I don't think there's high adventure anymore. Nobody takes out a sword nowadays and cries, 'Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father; prepare to die!' And true love? You can forget about that too. I don't know if I love anything truly anymore beyond the porter house at Peter Luger's and the cheese enchilada at El Parador's (sorry about that Helen)."

Helen's his wife.

Of course there's a deeper meaning behind this whimsical tale-- and that's one of what happens to love-- and life-- when you grow up. When you're young and idealistic and you've never been in love and you don't know what it's all about, it's easy to believe that everything should be like a fairy tale. To paraphrase a wise friend, "...[new] love's like anything new-- it's exciting, all that discovery and unknown. But once you've fallen in love again... and again... it sort of becomes old hat... and it's not exciting anymore. It doesn't mean that you don't love the person... it's just a different, grown up-- err, more sustainable, love."


I'm sure you can relate. I was all angsty and devastated about love when I was young and blissfully ignorant about the ways of the world. I thrived on it. Who didn't? But I wonder if we ever truly grow out of it. I mean, we all subscribe to the idea of romance-- romantic comedies, date night, valentine's day... we still believe in romance, but just in a more grown up, realistic way, right? (or is that an oxymoron).

But maybe that's the great divide-- can there be high adventure and true love when, indeed, you're all grown up? And, more importantly, would you, as an adult, fight for your one true love?

Monday, September 14, 2009

End of Summer

It's definitely Autumn here, which isn't so bad seeing that it's my favorite season. Alas, we live firmly in an alternate suburbia (the best I can compare it to from an American perspective is housing project... and we are on our way to being slumlords), so there is none of the beautiful foliage (although, that doesn't really exist in all of its colorful glory outside of New England...) or chilly air (it's too damp) or sniffs of cinnamon, log fires and apples (okay, so perhaps I embellish just a tad...). In any case, being the lazy (or perhaps, overworked?) bum that I am, I'm completely repurposing (okay, stealing) an e-mail I wrote to my friend David, recapping our summer activities. What can I say? Why rewrite when there's perfectly decent prose that you've already written? Oh well...

Excerpt from e-mail sent on 12 September 2009:

"Time does fly... the summer went too fast; well, if you can call an English summer, summer. But we have had beautiful sunshine for an entire week, even though Autumn has firmly established itself (though, truth be told, it never seems to get much warmer than "Autumn" temperatures...). Fall is however, my favorite time of year. So rather than look a gift horse in the mouth (Fall AND sunshine?!), I am going to relish in what few nice days there are and spend the entire day doing nothing but being outside. Ah, small pleasures. My plans may however, may be thwarted by an industrious fiance who has a bee in his bonnet to do home improvement projects. Booo....

We did have a really nice summer of traveling-- I'm trying to take advantage of living in Europe and how ridiculously cheap it is to fly everywhere (aided, of course, by the once-again strong GBP). Mark often has to work weekends, so I've taken to little weekends away when I can-- Italy in April, Brussels in May (for business, but went a few days early). We met friends from the US in Amsterdam and then to Paris, my first trip to both--Amsterdam is a beautiful city, as is Paris (discounting the Parisians, that is). Oh, but French food and wine (and cheese!)-- divine. The last night in Paris while everyone was gorging themselves on pate and steak frites and red wine, I sampled sole meuniere and think it might have been just the best preparation of fish I've ever had. Most unfortunately two subsequent attempts at making it myself have gone awry (how hard could it be? There's only like 4 ingredients! But those pesky French; the seemingly simplest tasks are deceivingly complicated; not to mention that finding Dover sole, despite LIVING in England, not easy; and filleting a flat fish? Thankfully that was left to Mark-- who, needless to say, is now a bit suspicious when I start a sentence with, "So, I was thinking..."). In any case- a very fun Spring / Summer of traipsing around and NOT planning my wedding... I'll get to it eventually! :) Lots and lots of trips around England, some for work, others just fun (lucky to have some friends visit London this summer so got to explore with them and also get some "comfort" from familiar faces; I'm a bit homesick for friends and family and with working at home, living in the middle of nowhere and traveling so much, haven't found making friends as easy as it used to be. But, life's nothing if not an adventure-- and I'm dutifully plotting my next one."

Author's note: I did manage to get said 'industrious fiance' out of the house for a little jaunt around "Bronte Country" which is a mere 20 miles away (who knew?!? I need to break out my "Exploring Britain" book more often!). More on that in a future post...

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Ahhh, Paris. The food, the sights, the art. I was in heaven at the Louvre, and 8 hours were simply not enough. Lots and lots of photos for those who feel so compelled; for those who do not, a sampling of my favorites below.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Dempster and I had a little love affair with doors while traveling in Holland and France. Big doors, small doors, red doors, blue... If you're so inclined, you can check out more on my Flickr page...

Monday, September 07, 2009

Small Town UK

Despite my rather dubious surroundings, one thing I do love about this little town is the teeny tiny neighborhood post office on Coal Clough Lane. Sure, it's jam packed and smells a little; but it's visibly tidy (in a haphazard kind of way) and efficient if not a little slow in a lazy, small town manner. And despite the fact that I can't quite make out whether it's a post office or a bank (very few patrons seem to be there to post anything; but there is always a long line and money being exchanged. Here the post offices exchange foreign currency-- US, Euro and Turkish lira (yeah, I don't get that either), cash checks and even act as ATMs, as far as I can discern), I do find the experience amusing. Especially when the post office employees rather apologetically tell me how much it will cost to mail a package or letter [to the US]. Today, when mailing some packages to my nieces, the post lady very reluctantly told me the cost... she was afraid it would be too much. How nice is that?! You're lucky if you get a US post office employee to say HELLO when you approach the counter. So, there are some nice things to small towns. Now, if only I didn't have to weave around broken bottles and dog poop to get to Coal Clough Lane.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

You Know It's Time to Move

When your neighbor leans out her window and calls down that we can use her husband's sharp object disposal container (that he uses for his insulin syringes) if we were to find any used needles in the yard of the house down the street that we were cleaning out (we bought it a few months ago and people had been using it as a makeshift garbage dump for nearly a year). We had, in fact, paid a professional waste company to do the majority of the clean up last week for that very reason... today we were putting a new gate in the back (because the hoodies at some point had burned the old one down).

Well, it was a nice offer, I suppose...

Saturday, September 05, 2009


Click on the photo to check out more pics from Amsterdam. Next stop: Paris!

Come Visit Me!

...said the subject line of an email from my sister. Followed by text reading, "a message from Makena" and these:

And then I cried. :(