Woke to 80 degrees and sunny. Will go to bed, heaters blasting, amid 4 degrees and snowy… But no matter what, it’s always good to be home. As Maya said in the car on the way back from the airport, “Whenever we get back from a trip, no matter where it is, do you always feel like you can breathe again?” Yes, indeed.
So my favorite thing about coming back (one of them, anyway) is getting to go through the mail – I know a lot of people think that’s weird – and the papers. I love the Times. Some of my friends get the e-version, but I find that when I read the paper on line, I don’t browse; I just go to the sections I think I’ll be interested in, and maybe read the headlines on the front page. With the print version, I look at every section. I read all the headlines and sometimes find great articles in the most unexpected places (for me that usually means the Business section).
So from Tuesday-Sunday, my favorite articles were as follows:
From Wednesday the 19th in the Op-Ed section, an article by Ben Schott titled, “Vive la Difference”. This article highlights some famous quotes regarding the national characters of various countries. It starts with Mark Twain, who said that the only unifying American characteristic was “the national devotion to ice water.” Also good is, “The Frenchman takes the world by its cheerful side, the Englishman looks on at it as a tragedy.” But my very favorite, which I have heard before but which always makes me laugh, is the following: “Heaven is where the police are British, the chefs are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers Italian and it’s all organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the chefs are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it’s all organized by the Italians.”
From Friday the 21st in the Arts section, and article by Eric Piepenberg title, “Hey Kids, Let’s Put on a Reading!” all about where to see new plays before they hit Broadway or Off-Broadway – in readings. These are hugely popular here, and sometimes performed by famous theater and film actors. Manhattan Theater Club and Primary Stages are particularly well-known for their readings.
From Saturday the 22nd, also from the Arts section, an article by Joseph Berger titled “Believing in Peace, Even After the Unthinkable.” About a Palestinian doctor working as an ob-gyn in an Israeli hospital – no mean feat in and of itself – whose three daughters were killed in an Israeli air-raid in 2009. And yet he still believes in peace, not revenge. His memoir is titled “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity.” I have a feeling this is a book all of us should read.
Finally, from tomorrow’s Sunday Times Travel section (which of course comes in the Saturday paper for subscribers) an article titled “Where Writers, and Readers, Feel at Home.” Apparently this place is Norwich England, located two hours from London. After reading the article, I think we may need to go back to England sooner than originally planned. Any town that treats visiting authors like rock-stars and prizes its’ used bookstores- especially when that town’s main street is a medieval walk of cobblestone – sounds like a winner to me.
A woman in the airport today asked if I’d pulled my kids out of school to take them on the Bahamas trip. I said we homeschool. Maya said we unschool. What is that? she asked. Organic learning, was my quick response. I got a polite smile in return. That was the end of our conversation, but now I’ll expound. Organic learning = Reading bits of the Times out loud – quotes from Mark Twain and ideas about plays we might see. Planning trips to England (and maybe Greece and France, just for good measure). Talking about Palestinians who don’t hate the Israelis, and why some do. That’s unschooling.
It’s good to be home.