Sunday, June 30, 2013

Photo of the Day: A Little Fixer-Upper

I'm spending some time back at Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra at the moment, working on my writing and enjoying the mountain scenery.  It's not a bad place to be when the rest of California is undergoing a major heat wave!  Here in the mountains it is warm but comfortable.

The other day I took a shot of this little shack on the way to Mono Lake.  It has seen better days.  I can't help but wonder who lived in this place, and how long ago they abandoned it.  Maybe I should find out who owns it and make an offer?  It seems like an awfully romantic spot to spend some time!  Maybe a bit too much work required, though, to get it into shape.  Oh well, it's a nice dream!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Maybe away from Budapest...

Now that I'm back in California I've enjoyed catching up with old friends and traveling around my home state a bit.  Today I've been wandering around San Francisco and writing in a downtown cafe. 

I'm still working on my memoir of the life of a struggling writer.  I'm nearing the end of the current draft and have come to the part about my life in Budapest over the past few years.  I can't help but be reminded of a Hemingway quote from his own memoir, A Moveable Feast.  As he said, “Maybe away from Paris I could write about Paris, as in Paris I could write about Michigan.” I can definitely see his point.  Somehow it is easier to gain perspective on a place when it is not right in front of you.  Being away from it makes it easier to sort out your feelings about a place.

After eight months away, I am also undergoing a bit of reverse-culture shock, though not in a bad way.  One thing that stands out is how relatively friendly everyone is here in the U.S.  In Europe in general, and Eastern Europe especially, people tend to be very reserved in public.  They keep to themselves.  In the U.S., total strangers routinely strike up conversations with each other.  I've seen it before in foreign airports, where all the Americans in line to check in end up chatting away while the foreigners are stone silent.  Today I saw it on a crowded subway car, where numerous people who didn't know each other were discussing the city, and the weather, and where they were from (including the guy beside me).

I would admit, sometimes I just want to be left alone, but in general I think this sociability is a great thing.  Why shouldn't we all be friendly with one another?  Why should we have to feel so guarded?  I suppose that to Americans, life is just one big party, and that's probably not such a bad way to be...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Greenland from 35,000 feet

After eight months abroad, mostly in Budapest, I'm finally back home in California for a spell!  It is nice to be back in familiar surroundings, where everyone speaks English and the beach is just a stone's throw away.

On my flight home we went right over Greenland and I got a good look at this stunning scenery just out my window.

The middle was mostly flat and pure white, with a few mountain ridges poking up here and there.  It seems unlikely that humans have ever set foot on these mountain tops, so isolated and removed.  I felt fortunate to be able to gaze on them myself.

Along the west coast the scenery became much more rugged, with larger peaks leading down to the sea and deep fiords carved out by still visible glaciers.

I think that what surprised me the most was how little anybody else on the plane seemed to care about this view.  People were too busy sleeping or watching their personal entertainment systems to pay any attention at all.

To me this was definitely something special, to see a landscape so far away from our modern human existence.  I figured, I can watch a movie anytime!  Or sleep for that matter.  This was Greenland!  Maybe some day I can come back and actually set foot on this mysterious land mass.  Until then, this brief glimpse will have to do...