“What is it?”

Penguin about Town asks his brother, Roy.

What_Is_It

After a moment or two of silence, Roy clears his throat and, in his best ever imitation of Scotty in that ‘By Any Other Name’ episode, replies, “It’s green.”

Advertisements

Preparing for the Camino

imagesThe first I had ever heard of the Camino de Santiago in Spain was in an article published in the October 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler, written by actor Andrew McCarthy about his experiences with conquering his own fears and vulnerabilities through travel. I thought, I’d like to test myself on that same road one of these days, but it wasn’t high on my priority list so I pushed it aside in favor of other, more remote, destinations like Antarctica. But – as I wrote a couple weeks ago – my friend Xina (journeytaker) recently invited me to accompany her.

While I admit I was a bit surprised that she’d decided to undertake such a journey – even if she had to do it alone –  I realized I shouldn’t be, nor should I be surprised that she came up with a destination already in the back of my mind. Xina is no shy, passive, creature. She takes risks, whether it’s convincing her husband, Dave, and daughter, Brandy, to go on some outrageous month-long canoeing expedition or walking up to a complete stranger (me) in a room full of other strangers and – after eyeing my name tag – says “Hi! I’m in the same writer’s workshop you are!” And only a couple years after that, as we sat eating breakfast in a SoCal Denny’s one day, she asked where I wanted my next vacation to be. I said Antarctica. I remember two things: the way her eyes and face lit up as she exclaimed “Me too!” and the look of abject horror on Dave’s face. He was clearly thinking “Oh god, someone who’s insane as my wife.” Brandy, who was maybe 10 at the time, said, “But Mommy, I don’t want you to go, it’s too dangerous.” So I reassured her with, “Don’t worry, when the killer penguins attack, I’ll throw myself in front of your mother so she can come home safe to you.” We didn’t get to test that promise. Xina wasn’t able to go on my Antarctica excursion, and I managed to narrowly escape those hordes of killer penguins…just barely….

So now with less than a month to go it’s time for us two crazy women to prepare. Xina lives in Southern California and has been out there hiking and walking, testing her shoes and her pack. Me, I live in Northern California, land of the never-ending drought and the onslaught of allergy season which strikes earlier and earlier every year. My attempts to get out doors have been met with misery and despair. red and watery and burning eyes, runny nose, and a sluggish river of gunk draining down the back of my throat. (Don’t worry if you should find me lifeless, looking as if I’ve been asphyxiated – it wasn’t murder, only phlegm.) I must retreat indoors to a treadmill where I’ll have to satisfy myself with adjusting the incline. (Sigh.) It’s no substitute for real hiking, but if I am to survive long enough to reach Spain, it must be done. I’m hoping that past experiences, where removing myself from my normal environment alleviates symptoms, are true in Spain. If not, do they have better antihistamines over there?

And when I get back I’m hoping to catch up with reading the last six months’ issues of Nat Geo Traveler stacked neatly (too neatly) on the end table…I’m sure I could find some other tantalizing destination to ferment in the far corners of my mind until some friend or relative says, “pssst…hey…wanna go here?”

Oh, and Brandy, that promise still goes: when the killer penguins attack us in Spain, I’ll throw myself in front of your mom.

Penguins, Sharks, Zombies, Shatner…and Crisis Management

Two weeks ago, I vowed to finish the first draft of my latest zombie short story. And I’m proud to say that I did! (I even finished it a day earlier than promised.)  It’s not quite ready for publication. I need to allow a little time for it to marinade…I suppose I could get gross and make some kind of zombie analogy about stewing in bodily fluids…but I’ll save that for the story. I did express concern to my first readers that the story wasn’t quite creepy or gruesome enough and was promptly informed “Oh, yes it is. Eeewww.”  What I need to work on, I’m told, is some character development. So I’ll be revisiting the story this coming weekend.

In the meantime I’ve started a new Twitter feed under @TheFarPlaces describing the adventures of #PenguinAboutTown. It was inspired by the humorous Twitter feed of @BronxZoosCobra and two of my fellow travelers in Baja during March who brought along stuffed critters for photo ops. So, last week when I needed to make a quick business trip to D.C., I took along Penguin (yes, my penguin’s name is Penguin) and took him barhopping.PenguinMetro Here he is hitching a ride on the D.C. Metro. After all, penguins can’t fly. They can’t buy Metro passes either (no pockets for money or credit cards) but I don’t think the station attendants noticed him sneaking on board tucked away in my bag.

Watch Twitter for future #PenguinAboutTown adventures.

And to further wake up my brain – dare I say celebrate the reawakening of my brain from the fog of migraines and pain killers – this week I am beginning a graduate certification program in Crisis Management. First class up: constitutional law. Yeah. Really. I’ll see if I survive the eight weeks without case law turning me into a zombie. Wish me luck. (But, hey, I might get inspiration for yet another zombie story! Do you think they’d let me write a case study of the zombie apocalypse?)

But before I delve into Marbury v. Madison and Jew Ho v. Williamson, etc., I gave my brain a break and thoroughly enjoyed “Sharknado 2: The Second One.” If you love cheesiness, this is the movie for you. I think it was even better than the first one. In the first 5-10 minutes alone they managed to parody “Airplane!” (itself a parody) and the classic “Twilight Zone” ‘Nightmare at 20,000 feet’ episode with William Shatner (who frequently parodies himself). I knew I was in for a great ride the moment I saw Robert Hays in the cockpit.