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Showing posts from September, 2016

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 44: Uxbridge to Hayes

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If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the previous days. We're heading to the Central Line. This is Day 44.

Last week I told you I was taking the tube to Uxbridge—the terminus of the Piccadilly Line—and walking the rest of the way to Hayes where my mum grew up at #3 Mansfield Drive. I’ve foraged through a load of old pictures but I can’t find the house in our collection and I can’t tell from the image on google which of these houses it actually is as the numbers don’t seem to be marked. Both homes have been spruced up over the years, and to be honest, neither rings a bell. Neither house has the red painted front steps I picture scrubbing and polishing to a shine as a toddler. In reality, knowing the way thr…

The Height of Hubris : Climbing Notre Dame in 1989

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A Paris flashback for Dreaming of France.
Voila! C'est moi with one of the iconic stone chimera of Notre Dame overlooking the entire city, the Eiffel Tower perfectly placed in the background as though by a giant set designer in the sky. I used to think the horned goat was a gargoyle but he's not. Gargoyles are the creatures fashioned into waterspouts, monstrous looking but serving the prosaic function of keeping water off the roof and the exterior walls of Notre Dame, minimizing damage from rainstorms. My bearded goat-friend is a chimera, a grotesque, one of hundreds added when the cathedral was restored in the 19th century by the architect Eugéne Viollet-le-Duc. Much of Notre Dame had been destroyed in the French Revolution, the French Revolution Mindy and I and a zillion other tourists and Frenchmen were celebrating that July in 1989.



I was excited to climb to the top of Notre Dame but once I got to there and my friend Mindy wanted to snap a ph0to of me and my friend the Chime…

Job Done

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You may have read this before, just recorded it for the podcast.

We all want a life filled with satisfying, meaningful work but most of us go through periods when a job is just a job. "If you must have motivation" Noel Coward reportedly said "think of your paycheck on Friday."

My mum got me my first job. It lasted all of a morning. I scored the second onemyself, saw the Help Wanted sign sitting on the counter of the snack bar at the grocery store and walked over and applied. But nothing lasts forever. Job number three came via my dad. He was the chatty type. He told jokes to the tellers at the bank, spoke Arabic to the guys down at the Chevron station and toted up friendly acquaintances wherever he went, the dry cleaners, the post office, the grocery store. As luck would have it, he extended his bonhomie to the ladies at the drug store across the street from our apartment, where Joanie, the manager of the cosmetics department, thought he was 'a lovely man.' .…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 43: Heading to Hayes

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If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the previous days. One more Piccadilly line post. This is Day 43.

Last week as we reached the end of the Piccadilly Line at Cockfosters, I was reminded that underground stations were used as air raid shelters during World War II. The people in this photograph look very settled in, clothes hung on pegs, bedding spread on the tracks!

And I wonder if my mother ever dashed into one. If that’s how it worked. She was a teenager in London, fourteen years old when the war broke out in 1939. Like millions of boys and girls from cities around England, she and her two younger brothers, Peter and Robin, were evacuated in September, sent to the English countryside where strangers took th…

Behind Closed Doors [Listen to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher]

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The 8th and last of the stories I've been recording about Derek, an old boyfriend from the seventies. Listen or read it below. Originally published 4/25/16. Catch up with all the series episodes on my podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher.
Behind Closed Doors
It’s natural, isn’t it, when you’re young, to think about sex all the time. Didn’t you? 

Before our first time at the Brentwood Motel, that’s all we both thought about. We couldn’t keep our hands to ourselves. Wondering. Endlessly curious about its earth-shattering nature.

There was a shift after that. Once, in the middle of the day, Derek had parked his GTO at a turnout in the road off Temescal Canyon, and treading past overgrown bushes, we’d found a patch of ground semi-surrounded by brush and bramble. Just 50 feet from the busy street, we laid a blanket on the ground, doing it under the sun, surrounded by green. If life had been caught on camera in 1972 the way it is now, that day, with every flashing sunbeam peeking throu…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 42: Cockfosters .... the end of the Piccadilly Line!

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Vintage Roundel, Turnpike Lane
If it's Friday we must be back in London.Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the previous days. We're wrapping up our walk tracing the path of the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 42.
We are getting to the end of the Piccadilly line and let’s be honest, we’re in the burbs. The last stop on the line is Cockfosters—I know, here in the states we would never be able to call anything Cockfosters without incurring a rash of nasty jokes—is almost 7 miles up ahead.



For now, since there's not much to see in the way of attractions and points of interest, let’s just take a look at some of the stations along the way. The stations, all designed by Charles Holden, are of historical architectural interest in their own right. 


Turnpi…

The operative word is neighbor

“Someone died here today.”

“Pardon?” 

I wonder if I’ve heard correctly. It’s awkward, unsettling somehow, hearing the old woman who lives next door to you talk about dying while you’re sitting by her bedside in a hospital room at Cedar Sinai. Margaret, 86, is sitting up, a couple of bright white pillows behind her, a tray table straddling her bed. I look out the hospital room door half expecting to see a gurney with a sheeted figure rolling by. 

“On this floor. Someone died on this floor.” Margaret looks at the open door too. “The nurse told me most of the patients on this floor have brain or spine injuries.”

As if that answers it. She, Margaret, doesn’t have a brain injury, that’s for sure. She has–or had–colon cancer and she’s been in the hospital for a few days now, recovering from major surgery. A colectomy.
Earlier this summer, her doctor, worried that she’s anemic, sent her for a colonoscopy. It falls to me, her next door neighbor, to give her a ride.Full of energy, Margaret says she…