Wednesday, October 26, 2011

visiting NYC

I love to go into the city--museums, plays, just hanging out.

But one of my favorite parts of a day in the city is returning home by commuter bus. The noise and bustle of the city slips away as the bus exits Route 208 onto treelined Wyckoff Avenue. You can't help but be impressed with the fall colors, although they're muted this year.  And here's the kicker:

I exit the bus at the park and ride lot and head back toward the rows of cars, but as everyone else clicks their remotes and hops into their cars, I keep walking. It's like a movie ending.  I go beyond the limits of the blacktop parking lot and across the now abandoned grass of a baseball field. "Where is that crazy lady going?" someone might comment as they back out of their parking spot. A chain link fence surrounds the outfield and a casual glance might miss the gate that roughly lines up with center field. I enter the gate and slip down a narrow dirt path where the overgrown bushes of summer have now been pared back to reveal a wooden plank bridge spanning the tiny creek. I emerge from the reeds on the other side and find myself in a magical world of...

No, not magical, just back on my suburban cul de sac, but it feels like I've officially passed from one state of mind to another.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crazy for Katie

I spent a lovely weekend in the Charleston, South Carolina area, staying at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. I bowed out of the 36 hole K family golf marathon on Saturday and opted for a visit to historic Charleston and Fort Sumter. Hate to admit it, but I signed on for a Gray Line Tour, along with other gray heads who prefer to ride around in a mini-van and save the feet. Ah, that it should come to this. I actually enjoyed it, although the corny tour guide commentary got a little annoying at times. Saw the many beautiful historic houses in Charleston (from the outside) and then headed for the boat ride out to Fort Sumter at the head of the harbor. It would have been nice to have an extra day to actually walk through some of the homes.

Like Alcatraz, the line for the boat to Sumter includes a photographer who takes your picture in front of a green screen that they later fill in with the Fort Sumter template. The photographer spilled the beans--celebrity sighting expected for our tour. I was all excited. Who says we're not all a little enthralled with tv personalities?  I spotted no one on the boat, listened to the informative ranger talk and walked around the rubble of the fort. Particularly enjoyed the beautiful views and the well laid out path with historic markers explaining the siege of Fort Sumter and subsequent occupation by the Confederates for the remainder of the Civil War.

Enough already--here's the good part. I'm in the museum and hear the distinctive voice of Katie calling to her daughter Ellie to look at an exhibit right next to me. "Wow, Katie Couric," I gushed. "I'd heard you were supposed to be here today. Good luck with your new show."  She smiled and thanked me and proceeded to the next display. The museum is circular with window-like openings between the rooms, reminiscent of the apertures in the fort where the cannons poked out, so I double backed the other way, peering through to check their progress. Otherwise known as stalking Katie Couric!  Here's a picture Katie posted on Facebook.

Katie Couric's photo Ellie and me at Ft Sumter! A beautiful day and we r loving charleston!

Can you spot me in the shadows behind Katie?
I'd make a terrible paparazzi. Here are my only two pictures, taken surreptitiously. 

Katie coming up the gangplank to the boat

Katie and Ellie waiting for the car to pick them up after the tour.
On the boat ride back, I strolled up to the front of the boat and found a spot on the rail, three people away from Katie. I debated making my move and when Katie went to sit on the top step of the stairway leading to the lower deck, I sidled over to her and plopped down.

I have to say she is genuinely friendly and definitely charismatic. You can see why she's a great interviewer because she puts you at ease and you feel like you're talking to a long lost friend from high school. We discussed breast cancer, her work with Stand Up to Cancer and, of course, Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. We shook hands and I was thrilled that I had gotten up the courage to speak to this wonderful lady, who has had more than her fair share of cancer loss between her husband who died of colon cancer and her sister who had pancreatic cancer. And, no, for the record, she didn't ask me what newspapers or magazines I read!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

In the middle of Pinktober, one day was set aside by Congress in 2009 to bring greater attention and awareness to the 155,000 of us who will never be pink ribbon survivors, but are surviving every day, living with advanced breast cancer, also known as Stage IV or metastatic breast cancer. Most of us began with an earlier stage of cancer and thought we were safe, cured, permanently in remission. Yet, 40,000 of us continue to die each year, a number unchanged in the last 10 years, despite the "progress" in the government's 40 year war on cancer.

I work with Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, the organization that lobbied for October 13 and continues to fight for more research dollars for treatments to extend our lives. We strive to raise awareness with the public and the breast cancer community about metastatic disease and to educate patients to be their own best advocates in their treatment decisions.

On this day, I would like to honor all the wonderful people I've met and worked with who have metastatic cancer, who continue to work for the cause, raise their families, support each other and live every day to the fullest.  Yes, our statistics are challenging and we often despair where all that breast cancer money goes, but today of all days we deserve a little Emily...

Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all, 

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm. 

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Top 10 things I learned about Spain.

10. Graffiti abounds.
  9. Always dress up. Where are my stilettos? I have to walk the baby in the park.
  8. Even if you don't speak English, you can still listen to American music and wear American tee shirts.
  7. Why eat 3 meals a day when you can have 5?
  6. Supersize me must have started here--big portions.
  5. Promenade on Sunday with family, friends, old and young.
  4. If you miss your college drinking days, go to a sideria and sample the hard cider shots, poured into your glass from a height of three feet.
  3. Vegetables are optional--didn't see one all week.
  2. Stumped on what to serve on your buffet table? Consider this: cook and cure a haunch of an animal, mount it with hoof intact and cover with a towel. Slice as needed.

...and the number one thing I learned about Spanish culture...
  1. Tomorrow is another day - manana, manana.