Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav is a silly name for a hurricane

It's hard for me to take a hurricane named Gustav seriously. Don't get me wrong. Gustav is perfectly fine as far as Swedish names go; in fact, it means - appropriately enough - "staff of the gods." But really, we had to go to Sweden to find a good "G" name? There aren't enough English, Spanish, French, Creole, Dutch names to fit the bill? I can't think of one dot of land in the Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico with deep Swedish roots. So why the "Gustav"?

I'm rather picky about hurricane names. And let me say right from the start that I'm resentful we started using masculine names back in 1979. Hurricanes are clearly the daughters of Mother Nature. Opening the door for the likes of Igor, Omar, Otto, Peter, and Gordon just demeans a hurricane's power force. (Igor? Omar? What?!) Even fluffy female names seem more appropriate. Hurricane Dolly works. Hurricane Nestor does not.

Who chooses these names anyway? And what are they thinking? OK, OK. Giving in to the dictate to offer masculine names equal time, there are still a lot of questionable hurricane names on the list, even on the feminine side. The rules should be: 1) a name reflecting the culture and ethnicity of the hurricane area, and 2) a kick-ass name. So, Arthur, Josephine, Fred, Bonnie, Helene, and Pablo are fine, reflecting both rules 1 and 2. But Cristobal, Lisa, Bret, Kyle, Barry, Nicole, and Olga fail on at least one of them. And why have both a Kate and a Katia? (I vote for Kate.)

If the current trouble-maker's name were changed to Gustavo or just plain Gus, well, yeah, I could go along with it. Those are perfectly good Atlantic/Western Hemispheric hurricane names. But Gustav should be reserved for some Scandinavian disaster, like an over-abundance of Midnight Sun or a dearth of pickled herring.

As for me, and out of deep respect for the late Flip Wilson, I'm going to refer to the inaptly-named Gustav as Geraldine. Better brace yourselves because "What you see is what you get, Baby!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pull my starter cord. Please.

After two months' worth of conferences, houseguests, and travel to far-off places, I am having a hard time getting back to the daily grind. I can't focus on any one thing for more than a few minutes. I'm tired, but not sleepy. There's a mountain of important work to do, but I just can't get into it. It's overwhelming. And it's not only affecting my work life. I'm frustrated with every book I pick up. There are four - four! - half-started books next to my bed. And as for writing, well, fugitabatit. Blogging? Meh.

I wish I had a starter cord like an old lawn mower. But it would take many pulls before the motor cranked up, me thinks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Where everybody knows your name

Sometimes you need to be around the familiar. Where you don't have to explain, justify, or put on airs. Where there's no need for a complicated backstory or resume because folks who "knew you when" wouldn't fall for all that stuff anyway. A place where everybody knows your name. Well, I got a good shot of "familiar" when I went home to Atlanta.

This daughter of the South spent four whole days breathing in the lush, languid green of late summer in Atlanta, delighting in massively tree-line boulevards like Peachtree Battle and Paces Ferry. Throwing Weight Watchers caution to the wind, I (over-)indulged in the particular culinary (OK, wrong word in this case) delights of the Colonnade's fried chicken, Krystal's little square burgers, Jalisco's queso and enchiladas, pimento cheese sandwiches, cheese straws, pecan pie, shrimp and grits, and Chik-fil-A's, well, chick filet. My eyes feasted on wildly-colored clothing - yes, New York, not all apparel is black! - clothing that's marvelously appropriate for lush, humid greenness and fancy bridal showers.

But the greatest thing about being back in Atlanta was being surrounded by people who knew me. Not just knew my name, but knew me. I went to two dress fittings with Kate, and both times ran into folks I knew. I got to have a wonderful dinner with Carey and Joanna - catching up, looking forward. I was welcomed back to my own dear church with open arms, giving real meaning to the work I do so many miles away in New York. And then, there were the bridal showers. I won't go into detail about them here, as I'll reserve that for The MoBster Diaries, but I cannot adequately express the complete sense of belonging that I felt at both parties.

I will say this. There is nothing as wonderful as a loud, laughing, loving group of Southern women. Lots of hugs and kisses and great stories made even better with mimosas, wine, and great food. Throw in bright colors and shower gifts, and you've got yourself an occasion for the ages.

My new world is friendly (yes, New Yorkers are pretty friendly) but anonymously so. I'm blessed with cheerful, mission-minded co-workers, and I meet truly wonderful people from all corners of the world on a regular basis. But sometimes that's just not enough. Sometimes a person needs familiar smells and tastes and most definitely faces and embraces.

So I can survive in my new world just fine, especially now that I've spent time in my old world, where everybody knows my name.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Heading home

I haven't been to Atlanta in over six months. I haven't seen my child in over six months. I haven't tasted real fried chicken in over six months. Tomorrow, I'm heading home for few days.

After a stressful spring and summer packed with conferences and responsibility-overload, I just want to go home. I need to be surrounded by family, old friends, and Southern accents. I need to laugh till I cry. I need to cry till I laugh. I need to sit in my pew at All Saints'. I need to be reminded of who I am and where I come from.

Family and friends have scheduled a couple of wedding showers for Kate over the weekend so that I can attend, since the window of my availability is pretty small. (Thanks, everybody.) Addressing wedding invitations is also on the agenda, as is seeing the newly-crafted wedding gown (we hope). Of course, there are lots of other little things to track down, and I'll be along to give my Mother of the Bride opinion. And I will make time to eat real Southern food (Weight Watchers will be on hold for a few days).

I love New York, but right now I need some South. That's why I'm heading home.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I just adore a penthouse view

I attended my first penthouse party on Saturday. A friend from my office hosted a farewell do for a colleague who recently retired. It was very cool to walk into the building on East 56th, show the doorman my invitation, and be told to press "PH" in the elevator. The apartment was small (there are 4 others on the penthouse floor), but the wrap-around balcony was marvelous.

It was a beautiful, low humidity day in NYC. To sit in a comfortable chair on a penthouse balcony and have gin and appetizers served to me was just a fine, fine way to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening. After we were suitably buzzed (did I mention the gin?), a lovely meal was served (there goes a million Weight Watchers points). There was a cool breeze and good conversation.

And don't think I didn't take the opportunity to scope out the goings-on in the surrounding rich folks' apartments. You get a really good view into those flats from a penthouse, I tell ya'. Ahh. I can't imagine living in such swell digs in the East 50's, though I certainly live in swell digs in East Harlem. Somehow, it ain't the same.

Now I know a little something about the other half and how it lives.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

No, really. I've been busy.

OK, part busy, part slug. I'm way behind in my blogging since my England trip. I didn't post in England for two reasons. One, I was busy from early morn till late at night, meetin' and greetin' folks coming through the marketplace at Lambeth. And two, I was pouting because my laptop refused to talk to my photo disk, and you have to know that pictures come first on this blog. So, yeah, pouting.

Got back to the land of air-conditioning and cheap food last Friday evening. Never thought I'd think of NYC as "cheap," but 15 days in England made the city look like a veritable Dollar Discount Store (price-wise, I mean). So, simma' down about inflation, Americans - inflation is paying over $3 for a regular little bottle of water or over $17 for a taxi ride from Canterbury West station up the hill (not a big hill) to the University of Kent. The only thing cheaper in the UK is over-the-counter drugs, so stock up when you go.

Highlights of the trip? Here ya' go:

Dinner with the Mo' Mo' Moores. I've already posted about my grand evening with Jo, Chris, David, and Thomas. The meal was wonderful, but the best part was relaxing with "family." We had lots of laughs and proved that blog-friends are real friends, not just virtual ones. I did neglect to mention the beautiful pendant necklace Jo made for me. I got so many compliments on it throughout my time in England. Thanks again, Jo!

Candlelight Tour and Compline at Canterbury Cathedral. Got in on the first-come-first-served opportunity (limited to 50) for a tour of cathedral and candlelight service. We were divided into two groups for the tour, where we saw all the highlights, including the undercroft. We came back together, were given our candles, and proceeded to the altar area for Compline. When time came for the prayers, we walked up to the normally roped-off shrine of the martyr, and encircled it for the prayers and dismissal. It was an over-powering, goosebumpy experience.

Dover. I had Sunday the 27th off, so I took the train down to Dover. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and I latched on to one of the harbor tours for a spectacular view of the White Cliffs and castle. After lunch and a cold cider, I schlepped up a very big hill to Dover Castle and St. Mary de Castro. More spectacular views. I explored the castle, with its secret underground tunnels used strategically during World War II, and St. Mary de Castro and the Roman lighthouse. Dover's castle and harbor did not disappoint - a great day out.

I'd better get back to this stack of work on my desk. Glad to be home.