Finding l.u.x.u.r.y in the little things (and smirking at all the r.e.s.t)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Love of beauty is taste. Creation of beauty is art."

Bookstores are a frighteningly beautiful thing. You have this abnormally large room, typically with some variation of a vaulted ceiling, and those burgundy-colored oversized stuffed chairs organized somewhat haphazardly thoughout the room in an attempt to facilitate a cozy, welcoming ambiance. Many people come with the intent of snatching up the latest sizzling romance novel to hit the shelves, and it's likely that even more people are there lurking in the aisles only in search of a certain self-help book. Although most, I wouldn't hesitate to say, are simply there for a warm cup of Starbucks along side of their laptop. Yet, I'd venture to say that no one truly appreciates a bookstore for the sheer splendid nature of it.

Tonight, I attended a book signing of Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love--I absolutely adore this blonde-haired, free-spirited woman. As I stood in the audience and listened to her read one of her very own passages, I couldn't help but become mesmerized; here was this person who I had idolized and stood next to every step of the journey, page by page, and now she was here. Infront of my very own eyes. Speaking outloud the same words I had once read. And doing it so much better than I had even imagined.

And so it got me thinking. What is a book? Unlike any other marketable product, a book is a persons very own creation. A complication of your very own words, arranged together to form your very own sentences which, in turn, form your very own ideas. Which, ultimately, ends up being a book. Your very own book. That other people buy. They buy your ideas. Your sentences. Your words. They buy YOU.

So a bookstore, then, is really a vendor of ideas. Think of the power that holds. An abnormally large room with some variation of a vaulted ceiling and burgundy-colored overstuffed chairs just full of thousands of different people's ideas and thoughts; full of little parts of each author themselves. If one were to take advantage of a bookstore, he/she could technically become incredibly intellectually wealthy. And if not a little wiser, at least a little more open to others' viewpoints and individual perspectives regarding a vast amount of topics. And from my own perspective, this seems like it would be a very positive thing. Bookstores hold the answer to all of our differences--knowledge that could eliminate pure ignorance and, in turn, allow for a more prosperous, harmonious society. Go to the bookstore, people! Sure--have your cup of Starbucks. Flip open your laptop. Flip through a self help book (or eight for that matter). Do whatever it is you do. But take advantage of the wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. Go browse a section you've previously left unexplored. Be enlightened. Be inspired. Be intelligent. Be resourceful.

Be a reader.

First recommended stop: Eat Pray Love

Sunday, February 04, 2007

"I travel alot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine."

Her name isn't all that exotic, but her job certainly is. Samantha Brown is the host of The Travel Channel's Passport to Europe and all day I have been unable to change the channel. Today from my cream-colored vintage style couch, I have traveled with Samantha to Bologna, Italy, Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm Sweden, and anticipate the next journey starting at 7:30pm to Barcelona, Spain (where my Spanish lover Jose lives, if you recall). I am not sure, yet, if watching this show is a good thing, or bad because although supremely educational, I can't help be tempted by my own inner passion for travel, relentlessly beckoning me to make yet another trip to the Philadelphia International Airport. Travel, to me, is not a vacation but rather the most fulfilling anthropology course in which one could enroll himself. It is not the luxurious beaches, umbrella drinks and dance clubs, but it is the people, their culture, ideas and ways of life that bring meaning to any traveling I've ever done. And it is that for which I long still. I long for the thrill and excitement that nothing else but stepping foot off a plane in a foreign land can bring to me. I crave the unfamiliar territory to be explored, and the people whom I will befriend. I daydream about the fool I will inevitably make of myself at one point or another (being largely ignorant to their traditional day-to-day customs), and the added knowledge and confidence that will ensue once I return home. Most consider traveling to foreign nations outside of their comfort zone. But for me, that is where I find my own.

The idea of a mundane monotony, no more exciting than the average American's life, scares me more than anything else I can think of. When debating the educational value of travel with a new friend, he was firm in his thinking that he prefers to only travel within the continental United States, stating that he would be bored in a foreign country, unable to speak the language and unfamiliar with the lifestyle. I was forced to bite my tongue. I felt like yelling, screaming...calling him an ethnocentric American idiot, especially after encouraging the Bush administration. Yes, that's right. I just brought politics into it. But I maintained my composure, and couldn't help but wonder how many others felt similarily. However, I chalk such a thought-process up to never having traveled internationally previously. I find it almost impossible that, after going abroad, one could discount is as educationally valuable and/or as a means of self-teaching. You not only learn about another culture and people, but you are forced to learn about yourself. You see how you react to different circumstances, learn how you cope with new and strange circumstances, and learn to become quite resourceful. You learn what you like, what you don't, and you find out how to please yourself in other ways than the conventional manners you may have been used to before. You learn to be adventurous by default, sampling a whole new type of food and developing your palette. You learn to communicate better nonverbally, and exercise your creativity. You learn that not only your way is the only way, and often times, another way might be better. You learn to love and appreciate people of another mind-set, and hence are more receptive to a difference of opinion. To say that one learns a lot is an understatement of sorts.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

"The less routine, the more life."

People in general have the power to amaze, inspire, baffle, and fascinate me, all at the same time. Each and every one of us possess our own little individual characteristics that make us who we are, but the catch twenty two is those same characteristics that also seem to separate us from those who we want to be. Or, better said, want to be with. But perhaps even more importantly, a person's particular personality traits are so deeply ingrained in his/her being, that it becomes impossible to be anything else than what we are. So ultimately, I'm forced to wonder if maybe, just maybe, we have no control over who we turn out to be, what we like to do, and who we like to spend our time with. And if that's the case, then if we try to control and suppress our true selves in an attempt to be someone else, the final outcome is, I suspect, much worse than it ever would have been if we had simply let our own desires, feelings and thoughts shine through from the beginning.

Maybe, just maybe, doing so is the real key to avoiding all disappointment, frustration, resentment and hurt when it comes to the world of building new relationships. But hey-- you win some, you lose some, right? What's important is that you learn in the process; learn about life, learn about yourself, and sometimes you even learn that things you always thought were true, aren't.

We can't be everyone's someone.

...We can only belong to ourselves.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs are people that have come alive."

There is just something about diner coffee. No matter the combination of half and half and splenda, it is always the best cup of coffee I've ever had, hands down. I don't know what it is, but no other coffee compares...not even Latin American. And you know, I don't even complain about the unusually small mugs the diner coffee is served in; it's about quality, not quantity, right? I actually woke up this morning and opted for the diner over cooking (even though I had plenty of ingredients), just because I knew it would mean 97 cent caramel-colored caffeine bliss. And then one, two or three re-fills. Bliss, I tell you. And a jump start to my Sunday morning.

At this particular diner, there happens to be a young woman who always seems to end up waiting on my table. And I like this young woman. With thick, reddish brown hair, pulled back into a plain, ordinary mid-level ponytail, coupled with funky, black rimmed glasses, I get the feeling she's a little sassy behind those guest-checks and oversized breakfast platters. The familiar tone in which she initially asks, "Something to drink?" is a odd blend of crass and class. She is no-nonsense and very fast at what she does, but still manages to be extremely attentive and thorough. You can tell she's been serving cups 97 cent caramel-colored caffeine bliss for a while.

Yet this morning as I finished off my last bites of apple-cinnamon pancake, and tipped back my last drop of coffee, I couldn't help but be inspired by this hardworking, Brooklyn-esque woman. She wasn't refined, nor elegant. Or beautiful nor breathtaking. And somehow, it was a breath of fresh air. She was real. Genuine. Hard-working. There was just something about her which I liked.

So as I left, I told her to keep the change, which should have totalled about 20 dollars in tip. I really hope that maybe, just maybe, I made her day a little brighter...made her feel appreciated. Made working for minimum wage in that diner on Sunday mornings when she really wanted to sleep in... a little more pleasurable. Because it's people like her, that really make my Sunday morning diner coffee taste as good as it does.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for."

Empty. Silent. Desolate. White. Cold. Impersonal.

Yet all screaming the same thing: loneliness.

As I sit quietly in my apartment, it's late at night...and that is what I am surrounded by. Every angle of the room, from the freshly primed, undecorated stark white walls to the bland beige carpet subtly mocks me, as I sit here alone with my laptop. I'm sorry, apartment. I would love nothing more than to fill your rooms full of laughter and memories to be cherished for a lifetime, but such a task becomes quite complicated when there aren't people around to laugh and make those memories with you. My own doormat, which sits properly just outside the front door of apartment number 47, serves as nothing more but an acting prop for the rest of the complex to see. It reads, "Good friends gather here." But it lies. Because no one gathers here.

You know, I've always been the definition of the word "independent." Give me a plane ticket to any country in this world, and I will not only adapt to the culture, but cultivate some of the strongest friendships that I've ever had. And I will thrive on it.

Yet, conversely, give me a job in Exton, Pennsylvania...and I sit in my apartment four months later, without one solid girlfriend with whom I can share a fancy martini on a Friday night...basking in our newfound adulthood and gossiping about the cute men who mysteriously roam the halls of our office buildings. It causes me to wonder: is it me, or is it the place?

I did manage to swing a new "boyfriend"--or whatever he calls himself--but somehow it doesn't erase the emptiness that can only be temporarily filled with my old memories for now. Now, that is what I find myself thriving off of, missing my friends more fiercely than ever.

It is my belief that as individuals, we are severely limited in controlling the way we turn out to be; there is only so much one person can bring to the table. The rest of our personality, attitude, morals, self-perspective and being is made up of little parts of other people...all combined as experiences amounting to the individual as a whole. I worry that my current lifestyle--completely alone, as I like to call it--will eventually catch up to me, diminishing the fun-loving, carefree, spirited Ashley that I consider myself to be. When it reaches the point that you'd rather stay at work than go home to an empty apartment. . . something needs to be done. The "boyfriend" lives elsewhere, and I'm lucky if I see him once a week at this point. That's probably just going to get worse. My co-workers are older, and have the responsibilities that come with having a family. And my friends are back where I left my life... my real life. So I'm left with me, myself and I.

I suppose I should quit whining and. . . go out and make friends. I know that's what you're thinking. But let me tell you--I hate being that weird girl who goes to the bar alone and expects to meet people. Because people who just start talking to people ARE weird. So then it means I must sit at the bar, trying my hardest to seem approachable, and act like I'm there by myself on purpose all at the same time...and hope that out of 10 creepos that come by, one might happen to be a decent girl that will magically want a new friend.

God that's so pathetic! Friend hunting! Ew! I think I might have to stop writing about this before I throw up all over myself because the way I'm talking you'd think I was some shy, introverted, taped-glasses wearing, former braces all-star geekzoid.

I promise I'm not.

Just lonely...

Monday, January 01, 2007

"How many of you have started dating because you were too lazy to commit suicide?"

The above quote, in no way, shape or form applies to me - I, myself, can't stop smiling from ear to ear thanks to a certain someone and I couldn't be happier to be his girl. But... so I'm exploring this whole new comcast cable menu stuff...and I come across "Dating on Demand." Dating on Demand? What could that be? I click on it, and would you know...they actually have people on there that have made videos and are available to be contacted if interested! Can you believe that? More like..."Loser on Demand." Are you really that desperate? And willing to let everyone with Comcast cable know it? I would be horrified to do something like that! So I wonder...does all of this new technology actually make things like dating easier...or does it take away from any remaining sense of chivalry and old-fashioned courtship? Why can't people just meet people the way they used to--in person. It seems that with each new advance in technology, men and women are foregoing true person-to-person relationships and all of the nervousness and butterflies that come along with being with someone you're just getting to favor of the easy way out, typing in a keyboard and analyzing a potential mate based on whether or not he/she uses too many exclamation points and smilies...allowing each respective party to hide behind a 9 inch glowing screen. Although some may argue that by typing on the computer back and forth enables individuals to express themselves better, write and talk about things more openly is my assertion that technology does not strengthen interpersonal relationships, but rather diminishes them. Interpersonal relationships cannot be built without the actual interaction.

Friday, December 29, 2006

"Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: 'I'm with you, kid. Let's go.'"

Children amaze me. I know that everyone says that, and it's not really a novel idea but...maybe we should examine why that is. Why do children amaze everyone, put a sparkle into everyone's dull and tired eyes, and bring smiles to the faces of those who have long lost their own enthusiasm?

I think secretly we are all jealous of children. Jealous of their pure innocence, of their utter lack of knowledge of the way the world really works. We secretly want to go back to the time when we, ourselves, had not a care in the world. Well, not any more than whether or not the crust was cut off of our sandwiches...

I will admit to this secret sense of admiration. Children serve as a reminder that --wow--life really does move fast and furiously... it feels that only yesterday I was wearing my pink and blue snowsuit, asking mom for 50 cents to go to the corner store to buy sour patch kids that came in a little brown bag after they were counted out at 2 cents each. That poor woman who always worked the register. I look at children and see myself, missing the Ashley that I once was; the one that didn't didn't care whether her long, brown hair was combed or not, as she built bamboo forts outside and caught creyfish in the crick. "Growing up" really does take away from one's free spirit, but I suppose it also has its separate set of advantages. The important thing is to not lose that free spirit completely, because it's the only thing that's still allowing us to follow our dreams and be who we aspire to be. Innocence, almost ignorance, for the unknown world of what we dream about is what keeps us wanting it. . . longing for the excitement that not knowing can only bring us in this world.

I had the pleasure of meeting a very special young lady over the Christmas holiday, through a very special young man whom I happen to be dating. It is she who got me thinking , after demonstrating her vast vocabulary, saying things such as, "If you're available sometime, maybe we can. . ." Not bad for a six-year old. We did her makeup because she wanted to look like a teenager. Yet, most people I know are trying to do their makeup to look younger. But isn't life always so ironic that the young ones are always trying to grow up fast, act like adults and do adult things. . . while the old ones are constantly trying to maintain their youth. Is there ever a point in which you are satisfied with where you are in life, or is the grass always greener on the other side???

Friday, December 15, 2006

"Think excitement, talk excitement, act out of excitement...and you are bound to become an excited person. Life will take on a new zest, deeper interest, and greater meaning. You can think, talk, and act yourself into dullness, or into monotony, or into unhappiness. By the same process, you can build up inspiration, excitement, and surging depth of joy."

It's going to be a great day!!!! Happy Friday, everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"You're alive. Do something."

I was fortunate to have been able to spend Thanksgiving back in my adopted hometown of Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. There is nothing like salsa dancing the night away--it has a special ability to really bring out a person's spirit, and is insurmountable to trump on the fun-scale.

It is more than just a dance; it is moving art, impossible to preserve in a museum or keep behind glass. It is two people's souls, emerging and marrying by forming their own unique rhythm. It is an intimate form of non-verbal communication, which manages to practically scream to those watching, "Passion!" "Intensity!" "Sex appeal!" "Desire!" "Enticement!" "Seduction!"

For me, it is my inhibitions let loose. My fear of those who are watching left behind. It is my sexual being wanting to express itself after the alcohol I consumed, which is expressing itself as I boldly march onto the dance floor, Latin in hand. The steps just flow, and my waist follows, shifting fearlessly from side to side, following the lead of my suitor. At this point, it does not matter the suitor; I am instantly attracted to him through his ability to make a woman feel like a real woman.

In salsa dancing, the roles are clearly defined. The dance is the definition of male dominance--he is the one to lead, and she to follow. He is the agressor, and she the passivist. And I love it. It is outdated, against all modern notion of equality...and I love it even more.

It is romance put to motion. It is passion come alive. It is sex in its most innocent form. And it is the love of all these things combined that propels my untrained American feet onto the floor, over and over again.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's now a little past midnight, and I can't put my mind at ease. I'm feeling unsettled. A romantic movie that I had assumed would be heartwarming, actually proved to stir up an uncomfortable restlessness that lies more in my heart than in my head.

I watched The Break Up.

Throughout the entire movie, you see a couple so passionately in love with each other, so obvious to the rest of the world and to themselves as well...and both too stubborn to admit it. Their chemistry radiated from my laptop screen, as I layed in my bed, my white down comforter wrapped up underneath my chin, balled up in my hands. The entire movie you're rooting for them...their passion (there's just no better word at this point) is so inspiring, so alive. Alive with energy, with lust and with hate...but yet it's that rare combination that makes it such a powerful emotion.

Yet by the end of the movie, they go their separate ways...but meet up several years later on the street. Their passion is still so fresh--not remnants of what they had, but fresh flames of what they are. Who they are together. Undeniably raw.

And...they still both go their separate ways...

It broke my heart.

The movie got me thinking about love..why we fall into it, how we fall out of it, and why it has such a strong hold over us. I really think it's all about the human connection. Feelings so strong for another person that you truly feel connected--and underneath all of the bullshit, that's what it simmers down to. It's human nature to seek that connection--yes, we know it. But do we know HOW important it truly is to our lives? To the quality of each day we live, each moment we spend?

We Americans tend to be a cold, stiff breed when it comes to relationships, be it girl or boy. I notice that in my experience, others from different cultures are quick to express their feelings, quick to say I Love You, quick to share an embrace or show their salty tears...they are appreciative of the simple aesthetic nature of a man or a woman, and openly show their admiration for him/her....but underneath it all recognize the value of that individual human being. They are artsy. They are compassionate and volatile in their emotions.

I wonder...because they openly recognize the value of one another, are their connections stronger? They are no longer hidden, but praised. Does their sense of passion, then, become stronger because there is more of it, or weaker because it's so commonplace for such a variety of things?

In this respect, I consider myself to be highly un-American. As much of a front I may put up, or game I may play...I'm actually very compassionate, sensitive and naive in the sense that others will value our connection just as much as I. To evoke a smile, I simply have to think of a person I have met in one time and place or another...and how that person has positively impacted my life. And I will forever think of them fondly...I have such an affinity for keeping in touch. It's almost like a handicap in this culture.

I often think of Jose, my Spanish fling with whom I spent one glorious week gallavanting across London. We knew our time was limited, but that never stopped us from investing our emotional energy into that week. We were free, uninhibited and sexy... with the wind in our hair on those frost-bitten London nights, running like children through the damp, foggy streets and racing each other to the next black iron streetlamp that shone it's dim light through the cloud a block ahead. We would stop abruptly to catch our breath, colliding into each other and grabbing onto one another for dear life, swinging around in a circle with not a care in the world. And we would laugh and laugh and laugh. Laugh until our bellys hurt, and laugh with all of our being. Right there in that London street. We faced each other, looked into the other's eyes and simply let ourselves be...compltely uninhibited...laughing. I didn't care about the crooked shape my mouth takes when I really let loose and laugh, or how my nose runs when it's chilly outside. It didn't matter. None of it mattered. He kept on looking at me in the eyes, simply admiring and enjoying that exact moment in time. And I did the same. Until we raced to the next lamppost, winner having the task of buying another round of beers at our next pub stop.

And later that night, as I pranced in and out of consciousness before falling into a deep sleep, I felt him pull the blanket up over my shoulders, tucking it underneath my right bicep a bit. With his pointer finger, he gently reached for my cheek, softly moving a stray hair away from my face. He whispered, "Goodnight, nina." I felt him watch me for a time before falling into his own slumber. When I woke up hours later, his arm was draped protectively across my chest, his hand covering my own. I had never saw someone look so angelic in their sleep.

He was beautiful, and my time with him was beautiful. That is one connection that my mind will never allow me to forget, nor would I want to. That week is one of my memories in time that significantly adds to the quality of my life. Because I had a true connection with another that felt as if it could rock the entire world. It didn't matter that he was from Barcelona, or that he grew up with a complete different set of cultural values or tendencies. Our connection was not biased to the fact that our native languages were not the same, nor that we had different education levels.

And what really sets it in stone for me, is that he and I still keep in touch. We have no romantic plans, or even any plans at all. But the simple fact that I receive the occassional email from Jose in Barcelona, updating me on his life and inquiring about my own reinspires me each and every time. And the fact that in every one, he reminisces about the dinner we once shared in a small, intimate Spanish restaurant...shows me that connections are something very real. Something that needs to be valued and cherished...and held with such care up on the highest pedestal humanly possible...such a tender and precious thing... because each individual connection, forms a series of connections, which I believe to be the core of my soul, the core of my being...and the core of my inner happiness.

We could have easily forgotten about one another. We could have let two, three months slip by, like they sometime have, and never written another word to each other. We could have.

But we didn't.

And for that, I am grateful.

So thank-you, Jose for being a source of my inspiration and a driving force behind a happy memory that has made me smile so many more times than just on that plane ride home from London.

And thank-you, The Break Up, for really making me think a little bit.

To all the Joses in this world....


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Romantic love reaches out in little ways, showing attention and admiration. Romantic love remembers what pleases a woman, what excites her, and what surprises her. Its actions whisper: You are the most special person in my life."

Yet again on one of my little driving adventures, as I was passing the Turkey Hill I saw something that reminded me that romance still exists.

A boy who looked to be about the age of 16, with his old, beat up rusty powder blue Taurus, was escorting what looked to be his girlfriend over to her side of the car. He stopped, opened the door for her, waited for her to get inside, and closed it gently.

Now this wasn't any special occasion, like a prom or first date. This was the Turkey Hill. And I think it was fabulous.

Kudos to him, for adding a chivalrous touch!

I just had to smile.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

"Each day, and the living of it, has to be a conscious creation in which discipline and order are relieved with some play and pure foolishness."

"I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had."

"Humor prevents one from becoming a tragic figure, even though he/she is involved in tragic events."

Friday, November 10, 2006

I thought this was absolutely beautiful and had to post it.

"I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on her tombstone from the the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth, and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that she spent alive on earth,
and now only those who loved her know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars..the house...the cash.
What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what's true and real
and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives like we've never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile...
remember that this special dash might only last a while.

So when your eulogy is being read with your life's actions to rehash,
would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?"

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"We live in a world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if we only seek them with our eyes open."

This morning on my way to work, as I sat quite calmly in my rush hour traffic, knowing I was more than early, I looked over to my right and was startled by a piece of scenery that I had never seen before; I had always been too busy staring down the car infront of me, willing it to move faster. It was a pond of sorts, surrounded by lush green rolling hills that bordered a family of white willow trees, whose bare autumn branches dangled down, just barely teasing the surface of the water. One of this pond's most striking characteristics is it's meek little waterfall, facing the road and closest to me. About four feet high, water spills over the edge in a supremely delicate manner, producing such a beautiful sound. This, I decide, is peace.

Yet what really lit up my eyes, making me keep my foot on the brake, causing the car behind me to honk, was not the pond itself. No...but rather it was the ducks that called that pond home! These weren't just any ducks. There were literally fifty, sixty ducks, almost completely covering the surface. I have never saw so many ducks in one place! It was miraculous! And then, right in the middle, was a pristine white swan (Apparently she cameos in more than just The Ugly Duckling). She had such an angelic look to her, that I couldn't take my foot off of the brake. I didn't care. This was a scene to be taken in and relished! As she glided over the water and through the crowd, I could almost sense the other ducks' admiration. She was beautiful. If only the others knew how beautiful they were too. It was a sight to be seen, and I'm so glad it was mine this morning.

Today, remember to take in your scenery, and really notice the beauty. Let it captivate you, as if you were a child seeing it for the first time. Get excited! Be curious. Take it for what it is. Live in the moment. And don't ask questions.

We may be too old for some things, but...certainly not for others.

Have a beautiful, charming day!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can."

So tonight I had my first travel writing class. As I pulled into Lower Merion High School, following a rather long and drawn out ride through every town on the Main Line in order to arrive, I see a semi-attractive male exiting the front doors. Not sure if this was the right building, I decided to inquire. He happily comes over to my car, and when I ask if I'm in the right place...he said... "You mean that school for old people?" Hmm. "Yeah," I replied somewhat regretfully. "I guess that's it." As I thanked him and pulled away he yelled, "Have funnn!" as if I were going into a dark, spooky haunted house, never to return. School for old people? Did i get..gulp...old?

As I navigated my way through the dimly lit halls, I noticed that the school didn't seem all that spectacular for a high school on the Main Line. I entered room 110 and suddenly became startingly aware of what my little guy friend meant. There were old people. And I don't mean young old people. I mean olddd people. Retired old people. Old people who were the geeks and the bookworms back in high school. Old people who, over the years, forgot to buy new clothes that actually fit them (or get new eyeglass frames, for that matter). I knew immediately that this was going to be good.

I got the stare down as I entered. With my black high heel cowboy boots and the black and white skull scarf I was donning, I'm not surprised. The professor herself looked a bit ragged. She began some ice breakers, one of them joking about how Lower Merion HS actually hosted a night class: "How to get by on $70,000 a year." And she was serious. Where the hell am I, I thought. Sweetie, where I come from, $70,000 and you're rich!

The class went quite well, I must say. Between the introductions and the explanation of the course, I somehow got to saying that I had spent extensive time in Costa Rica. Her reply: "Oh, I don't go to those places." Those places?
How are you a travel writer?! You can't be biased. You're suppose to love traveling to far and exotic places! I was disilusioned.

On my way out, I walked down the lonely hallway with an assignment for the following week. A five hundred word personal travel narrative. I'm going to show her...

A balding man followed closely behind me through the corridor. And he hummed. Hummed the entire way. I knew before I left that I needed to write about the humming man. I started thinking about it. Who hums these days? And who does so in front of others? He audibly hummed the entire way out to my car, as he followed closely behind. He knew I could hear him. And he didn't care. He just hummed away. I'm not sure what to make of that. Usually I would find it refreshingly pleasant--someone beating to his own drum, which I always admire. However for some reason I was a bit perturbed. How can he be so inconsiderate to disturb my peace and quiet? I almost felt as if it were a personal invasion. How do you guys feel about the humming? Do I have any hummers out there? I need a solid resolution as to my feelings on the subject. :)

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