Shoes in the airport and other observations

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espadrilles, slingbacks, Birkenstocks, heels

flip-flops thwapping, wedges clapping

thick rubber soles for those always standing

slip-ons to slide through security

 

neon yellow sneakers

preppie red topsiders

denim blue nubucks

green Nikes, green shirt, green hair

 

lace-up boots and a beret

cowboy boots and a mini

calf-high boots and a scarf

army boots and a mission

 

strollers with little feet dangling

strawberry ankle-strap sandals

tiger-face rollerbag

floppy grimy duck

 

flight attendant’s skirt so tight her pockets gape

lumpy teen’s shorts so short her undies show

obese woman’s wheelchair braced like a baggage cart

mama’s tight pants with a belly bulging out

 

mirrored sunglasses slung backward from the ears

uniforms of khakis and polos and backpacks

Bluetooth headset, Blackberry clipped to the belt

hard-soled, long-toed, Italian leather loafers

 

(click, click, click)

 

all of us pieces of ego and oddness

and still somebody claims us

***

Harry Burns: You take someone to the airport, it’s clearly the beginning of the relationship. That’s why I have never taken anyone to the airport at the beginning of a relationship.
Sally Albright: Why?
Harry Burns: Because eventually things move on and you don’t take someone to the airport and I never wanted anyone to say to me, How come you never take me to the airport anymore?
Sally Albright: It’s amazing. You look like a normal person, but actually you are the angel of death. (When Harry Met Sally)

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My Favorite Olympics Moment

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One of NBCnews.com’s top headlines today was “50 Memorable Moments of the Games.” How about that Gabby Douglas? or Michael Phelps? or Usain Bolt (talk about an appropriate name!)? Amazing athletes, all. My favorite Olympic moment—in rowing (no surprise to those who know me)—did not make the list.

First, let me say NBC did not show nearly enough rowing, and they made it way too hard to find specific events on their TV schedule (not to mention how far off schedule they got). So when serendipity led me to the Men’s Lightweight 4 final, I rejoiced simply to see some blades in the water.

Great Britain was the clear favorite, having dominated the early heats. Denmark and Australia were also contenders—but truly, on any given day, most of the crews had a shot. As with elite runners and swimmers, top rowers frequently finish their race within fractions of a second of each other. The Men’s Lightweight 4 race was no exception, with the top three crews finishing within a third of a second—on a six-minute race.

The different race strategies were evident. Do you start fast to gain an early lead? Or row a steady pace, then power it in at the end?

Quick lesson: The rower in the stern-most seat is called the “stroke.” The stroke sets the pace; everyone else follows. When the stroke’s oar hits the water, all the oars hit the water. When the stroke speeds up, everyone speeds up. While the whole crew knows the strategy going into the race, everything is dependent on the stroke’s executing the strategy and the rest of the crew’s following.

At this elite level of rowing, I expected exemplary technique, stellar athleticism, and a photo finish. What I did not expect was South Africa’s winning its first gold medal in rowing.

When I think of South Africa, I still think apartheid. I remember learning about it in school, trying to figure out whether it was pronounced apar-thide, apar-tide, or apar-tate. I remember wondering what I would do if I ever met a white girl from South Africa—could I be her friend or would that be a tacit endorsement of institutional discrimination? Of course, it was perfectly fine—and practically required—to be friends with any black girl I might meet from South Africa. (Neither of which was remotely likely in the middle of Iowa.)

History has never been my strong suit, so while I knew South Africa had not attended the Olympics for many years, I had to visit Wikipedia for a refresher on dates. South Africa participated from 1904 to 1960, was banned in 1962, then returned in 1992, apartheid having been started in 1950 and dismantled 1990-1994.

Now, I keep a pulse on global politics, but I’m by no means an expert on current affairs in South Africa. I imagine that a couple of decades is long enough for significant change, but not nearly long enough for all the old daily injustices to have been completely removed. How much progress has been made?

When South Africa won the men’s lightweight 4, James Thompson, Matthew Brittain, and John Smith followed stroke Sizwe Ndlovu to victory.

My favorite moment of the Olympics was when three white South Africans followed their black leader—and it got so very little attention. Progress indeed. Well done, crew.

 

One Lovely Blog & Beautiful Blogger Awards

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I received two very kind awards over the past couple weeks.

Tom at firsttimerecords nominated me for the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you for the compliment, Tom!

Ms. Nine at Nine Writes nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Thanks for the Almond Joy, Ms. Nine!

The rules for accepting each award are identical:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you with a link.
  • Copy and paste the award logo to your blog.
  • Share seven things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and notify them.

I am going to combine these two awards and bend the rules a bit—otherwise I wouldn’t get back to my regular writing (which has already been too slow lately).

Seven things about me:

  1. I am a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA).
  2. My favorite Austen novel is Pride and Prejudice, because it makes me laugh out loud. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
  3. But Persuasion is a close second, a much more mature novel. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.” (Ah, be still, my heart!)
  4. I started reading Unfinished Desires: A Novel by Gail Godwin, but couldn’t finish it. Snooze fest.
  5. Now I am reading Henning Mankell’s The Troubled Man, a Kurt Wallander novel (you may have seen the adaptations on Masterpiece Mystery—looks like a new set coming up in September!). Mankell tends to focus on social issues and can get a bit dense at times, but I find his work pretty intriguing.
  6. I studied Swedish in college (very rusty now), so I get into Scandinavian mystery/thrillers like the Wallander series and Stieg Larsson’s books. I think it’s because I feel cool knowing how to pronounce the names.
  7. The chicken coop is almost done. 🙂

For the One Lovely Blog Award, I nominate:

  1. http://lovernebrown.wordpress.com/  – I want to call out this blog specifically. LoVerne Brown (1912-2000) would be 100 this year. I was not familiar with her poetry until I found this site. I am grateful her work is being shared—it is lovely and thought-provoking.
  2. http://awakenedwords.wordpress.com/
  3. http://geektohighbrow.wordpress.com/
  4. http://charaveti.wordpress.com/
  5. http://carolynlane.wordpress.com/

For the Beautiful Blogger Award, I nominate:

  1. http://thebeachhousekitchen.wordpress.com/
  2. http://jilliankermani.wordpress.com/
  3. http://caseykurlander.wordpress.com/
  4. http://gessyalvarez.wordpress.com/
  5. http://shawnbird.com/blog/

Enjoy their blogs!

Olympic obligation

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We watch out of interest,

curiosity, boredom, but

also from happy obligation.

Like standing for the judge,

the President, the bride,

we honor their position, for

in winning and in losing,

they stand for us and

all our golden dreams.

I am joyful

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I am joyful when I create

when I shape a word

a phrase

a sound

I am joyful when I see a new image

a new picture of the possible

I am joyful when I give birth to a new evocation

I am joyful when I see a complete work

a oneness to celebrate

I am joyful with beauty

I am joyful when I am noticed

for my creation

for my contribution

I am joyful when someone sighs “Ah”

I am joyful when I mine my potential

when I tap into my gold

when I live up to my gifts

even for a moment

Then I am

spectacular

***

This is not a new poem, but I think it is the perfect answer to Cristian Mihai’s question: “I am an artist because…” (BTW If you haven’t found Cristian’s blog yet, it is well worth following.)