So I am grabbing a slow time in my college library; it stays open during most of the break, even though only a handful of international students are still on campus. This still my favorite library in the world, the one against which all others are measured... and today I got the 'visitors' computer with the good keyboard... After all the worry about getting out of my apartment, let alone to Newark, the trip from door to door was as painless as any I've experienced. It's always nice flying out, because the complicated part of the trip (take a subway, take a train or bus, carry all the luggage) happens at the beginning of the trip. At the other end someone is waiting to pick me up in the car, and I get to start the visit with 40 minutes of private time with one member of my family. This time it was Mom, and we drove back by way of National Rd (US 40), so as to avoid all the enormous trucks on 70. It meant we also had to deal with drifting snow and a two lane highway, but it worked 0ut well, and I got to see stars almost immediately, and the open farmland studded with copses of trees. It's this austere beauty I look forward to when I'm here. Lots of my friends have trouble understanding why I love it so. I wonder if one has to be born here to appreciate it fully.
My brother James was picking up Dad at the Cincinnati airport at the same time. Dad was on his way home from Rome, the show-off. After he retired from teaching, Dad became the clerk of the American Friends Service Committee, a peace and social action organization. In the 50's the AFSC won a Nobel Peace Prize, which means it is now allowed to send a representative to a conference of Nobel Peace Prize winners that meets this time every year. Gorbachov is the founder. This trip, highlights for Dad was getting a bear hug from Gorby, and helping Christy Brinkley find the ladies room. Gives you an idea of how much ground this conference tries to cover, no? He said George Clooney spoke, and was actually pretty impressive, no grand-standing or melodrama, just clear, sensible talk about Africa. Nice to hear, I like Clooney. At another session, one of the panelists was the Dalai Llama; in response to one question he said "nothing to say," then proceeded to speak for a long time. It was fun though, Dad said, he was funny and charming, but at one point he said "look, we all know we only have one life to live," and Dad thought, wait a minute; the Dalai Llama thinks he only has one life to live? Doesn't that present him with some problems? Dad never got to clarify this, but that's probably for the best.
I could feel pressure due to the fact that my increasingly frail 73 year old father does more globe trotting and activism than I do, but I guess I should appreciate having him set the bar high. I'm proud of him, as you can tell from my bragging no doubt, and feel lucky that everyone in the family is on the same page when it comes to politics. That helps cut down on holiday drama, I'm sure.
The family insists Fang never makes as much of a fuss over others as she does over me; they're convinced she counts me as part of the pack. Maybe I have the right scent. They claim she always spends a few days after I leave wandering around the house looking for me. Whether any of it is true or not, she definitely makes me feel very welcomed. Dogs are good for the soul. She cracks me up. When we let her off the leash she run joyfully, when it's time to get back on she races up to us joyfully, then she chews her treat with such gusto one just feels all is right with the world, as long as one is lucky enough to have a dog biscuit. I think she is often the best leaven for my mom's sometime somber moods.
The quiet, nurturing pace of life here is wonderful, but doesn't make for good stories just yet, and I'm supposed to be getting off the computer now anyway. I think I may have a blogging addiction... going this long without writing, and even less time without catching up on all of you (which I did yesterday) makes me wonder if I have a bit of an addiction.... but I DON'T CARE. I miss more regular (and unpressured) time checking in with everyone... hope you're all easing into a festive, fun time.