Derailed

My birthday list has been derailed because my life has been derailed.

On December 11, I found out that my dad died. No warning whatsoever. He had a heart attack in bed.

I’m thankful that he passed quickly and painlessly (I hope anyway) but sometimes I think the magnitude of shock and grief might kill me, too.

He lived in the house that I grew up in, a seven-hour drive from where I live. I immediately flew home and spent a week with my brother, who lives in the same town as my dad. My dad left no will and no paperwork in order, so much of the week was spent scrambling trying to figure out his accounts. We only paused for brief moments of grieving, where we would cry over the fact that he would never walk through my brother’s door unannounced like Kramer on Seinfeld, as he did on almost a daily basis…or cry as we shuffled through his house and came across a picture of him and my brother’s daughter that he had tacked up on the wall…or found cards that we had sent him years ago.

We made multiple visits to the funeral home in town, having to make decisions about the burial, the memorial service, the memorial cards, the cremains. We have no idea what my dad wanted, but we think he’d be happy with what we chose. I had to write his obituary, which was one of the most surreal moments of my entire life. How do you sum up a person’s life in a few paragraphs?

I’ve been experiencing the first four stages of grief like it’s my full-time job. One minute I’m looking through photos for the memorial service slideshow and I feel completely numb. The next minute I’m running errands and every time I pass an elderly man, I think, “Why does he get to live and my dad doesn’t?” Sometimes I start to go down the road of, “What if I had called him [a few days before he died], heard that he was very sick, and begged him to go to a doctor?” (He had either a bad cold or the flu before he died, which can increase the risk of heart attacks.) I’ve had moments where I’ve thought that I couldn’t go on.

I look to my friends who have already lost parents as inspiration. With time, the wounds will heal somewhat and I will live a “normal life” again. One day in the future, when I think about my dad, I’ll crack a smile instead of break down in uncontrollable sobs. I wait for that day.

 

 

 

 

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Art and Science

I told Deb that “we were in for a weird day.”

She had agreed to join me at a performance art event followed by a “sensorial experience.”

Artist Oliver Herring was invited to the college campus where I work to put on his performance art event called “Areas for Action.” He spent five days on campus, creating a different art event each day. He invites the public to participate in these events by being models and helping to create scenes, which he then photographs and films.

I chose to participate in the final event, which was a Foil Ball. One volunteer with a lot of stamina sat in a chair for hours as people came in and added foil creations to her and around her.

foil1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we arrived, a group of teenagers who had wandered in were hard at work creating the state of Idaho out of foil because that was where they were visiting from. A young girl was sitting on the ground in a foil boat that her mother was creating around her. The mother and her other child, an infant, hopped in at some point and a scene was built around them too.

Deb and I got to work, adding pieces to the main volunteer sitting in the chair. We became models ourselves when my colleague walked over with a roll of foil in hand and started creating a scene around us. He gave me what looked like a shepherd’s hook, so I declared myself a shepherdess. Deb became a soldier.

foil2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a fun and creative few hours. As we left, they were setting up for a closing reception soiree. Regretfully, we had to head across the river for an appointment at Le Laboratoire Cambridge. We were trying the Lab’s “sensorial experience.”

lelab1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upon arrival, a docent led us through the current exhibit, which consisted mainly of videos highlighting a few bodies of work by a group of British contemporary artists known as Random International. I was most impressed by its Rain Room, which is an installation of pouring rain that one can walk through without getting wet, due to sensors and other scientific stuff.

lelab2

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were then directed to a room where we would have our sensorial experience. The experience is the brainchild of Harvard professor David Edward, who enjoys creating culinary experiments. First, we inhaled some scents through a glass tube. The scents started out as liquids that were then put through a special diffuser that changed them to inhalable clouds. (!)

I realized that I do not have a great sense of smell during the next experience, the oPhone. An iPad was connected to a little machine that pushed out different scents, which you chose on the iPad. Everything smelled the same to me. The idea is, that in the future, you could send a photo of a field of flowers to a friend on your phone, and the friend could “smell” the flowers at the same time. Whaaaaa…

Before Deb and I moved on to the next station, we were handed a lethal cocktail, a lime gimlet. We were told that the lime had been centrifuged. I don’t know if that is the reason behind it tasting a lot stronger than a regular gimlet or if we are just lightweights. But we were feeling pretty good pretty quickly.

Next, we inhaled some different powders that were supposed to give us bursts of chocolate, nutrition, or energy. I tried the chocolate, which was pretty good. But if given the choice, I would still welcome the extra calories of a real chocolate bar…

The grand finale, and my favorite part, was a Wikicells tasting. Wikicells are small balls of ice cream in edible packaging. All of the ice cream balls were composed of the same base of coconut milk, but they were encased with different flavors of “packaging,” which had the consistency of hard gel. If I recall correctly, we tried blueberry, chocolate, and caramel. I like this idea of edible packaging for environmental reasons.

Lethal gimlet and container that held the Wikicells

Lethal gimlet and container that held the Wikicells

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was an inspiring day that made me feel lucky to live in a place where I’m surrounded by seemingly limitless creativity and innovation.

Up next, keeping with the weirdness theme: I report on my first past-life regression session…

Fernando Friday

DSC06624
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
How many more people have to die senseless deaths in this country? The time for action is long overdue.

Final Countdown

As my friends Europe say, it’s the final countdown.

Thirty days left of being in my 30s.

Thirty days left to complete fifteen more birthday list items.

#(#)*$@$#

 

Trashed, as in Waste

I am an avid recycler. However, after watching the documentary Trashed the other night, a sense of urgency washed over me and I realized that I need to step up my game.

I have recycling down, so it’s time to focus on zero waste—that is, how can I prevent the creation of waste at the outset?

I encourage you to watch Trashed; I rented it on Netflix. The film drags along now and then, but I really appreciated the global perspective it provided. Host and producer Jeremy Irons traveled to Iceland, Indonesia, Lebanon, Vietnam (graphic content warning for this section), Wales, England, and San Francisco.

Be prepared to be shocked and appalled. I promise you, you will look at your trash can differently after you watch it. Immediate actions I’m taking include bringing a reusable mug to coffee shops and bringing my reusable bag with me everywhere. What actions will you take?

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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