“All that matters is that you jump.”
One of my trapeze instructors whispers this to me as I am suddenly about to swing off a platform that feels as though it is miles from the ground.
I take a deep breath, bend my knees and then leap-I leap for my fears of heights- for my fears of falling - I leap for my friends – for proving that my last turbulent experience dealing with heights hasn’t held me back - and I leap for myself.
And I soar - like a bird. I feel the air rush past my face. I hear for my commands from below. Legs up. See my hands. Let go. Look for Brooklyn. Enjoy the ride. And boy was I enjoying the the ride.
I listen for my commands again – Legs down, and “up,” which in trapeze lingo means… Drop.
“Awesome,” I proclaim and I get giddy about trying it again.
Trapeze was one of the greatest activities I’ve tried this year. Joined by good friends, I knew that this was the best way to kick off a Saturday morning. And not only was it fun–but it taught me a great lesson as well.
“All that matters it that you jump.”
Three years ago, I walked into one of LA’s many Whole Foods stores and saw a pint box of Del Cabo Organic Cherry Tomatoes for $4.99. Wouldn’t buy those here, I thought, because Trader Joe’s always has them for $2.99. Three days later, I was in the 99¢ Only store and, I swear on a stack of tomato crates, they had the same box of cherry tomatoes for, yes…99¢. Of course you can’t possibly rely on dollar stores for your grocery needs, because their stock is limited, constantly changing, and rarely of the Del Cabo quality. But finding these upscale tomatoes at the discount store where I go to buy gift bags and sink stoppers really drove home the point that prices for the same foods can vary wildly depending on where you shop.
Soon after this accidental lesson in comparative pricing, something else happened which cemented my conviction that shopping around can pay significant dividends, especially if you’re on a fixed budget:
I had a delicious sheep’s milk brie, called Brebirousse d’Argental, at a friend’s party, so I asked where he’d bought it. The answer was a local, artisanal cheese shop, the only one for miles and miles. I drove there the next day, but when they said the Brebirousse cost $48 a pound, I nearly choked. (“I’m sorry,” I thought, “did I say caviar? I meant cheese.”) I left the store empty-handed but determined to find this oozy, aromatic mass at a price I could afford. And I should say that I really enjoy this kind of a challenge; it’s a treasure hunt to me.
First, here’s what I didn’t read: anything that included a vampire or a werewolf. I did read about one ghost—in Anne Tyler’s The Beginner's Goodbye.
Much of my summer reading focused, as usual, on mysteries: I read all three of Gillian Flynn’s novels, starting with this summer’s blockbuster Gone Girl and then working my way through her two earlier ones — Dark Places and the even darker Sharp Objects. Three clever and engaging picks were Joanne Dobson’s academic mystery Cold and Pure and Very Dead, Harry Dolan’s pomo noir tale Bad Things Happen, and Tana French’s Broken Harbor (just as riveting as her other novels).
I devoted two nights to James Renner’s The Man from Primrose Lane, which veered from noir to sci fi, and made me think longingly of the relatively simpler physics of The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffinegger, a past summer’s selection. It did occur to me that some might find my liking for mysteries obsessive when I realized that I was reading Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters while watching an episode of Inspector Lewis. Mysteries, however, with their murders, trickery, and restoration of order, remain an excellent antidote to articles on education (I read roughly 500 of those).
Thus reads a stanza of the poem Farming – One of the most dangerous occupations. It is representative of the twenty-six poems in Dead Horses, poems of struggle and suffering, loss and death. These are poems of memories, especially memories of horses:
Now that they are dead or gone, the dream
Is always of a field where horses
Flash past, hooves catching and echoing light,
The grass lush, milkweed or Queen Anne’s lace
Along the fencerows. Then suddenly it’s winter,
Snow is falling, shapes are haloed, the sky is bleak.
And another stanza, from the same poem:
…..You want them now, those horses
Crashing the earth with sound as if light
Had been surpassed by speed, as if the laces
That bind you to your bones gave way to winter’s
by Ann Nichols