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Spied at a tea shop near my house.

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Defying Gravity

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I very recently jumped out of an airplane.

I chose the local company based mostly on the fact their website posted this Steven Wright quote on its front page: “If at first you don’t succeed, then skydiving definitely isn’t for you.”

Following about an hour of training and preparation, I can honestly say the 13,000 feet I ascended in that plane were the most exciting, anticipatory of my life.   Until the start of that 80 second free fall. 

 

Holy shit.

 

100 miles per hour.

Then 120 miles per hour.

After the chute opened, it was sort of like the greatest Sunday ride EVER.  At a descent rate of 1000 feet per minute or so, my perspective had the opportunity to extract itself from my sphincter and appreciate the view.

The guy jumping with me commented on my general lack of screaming.  Apparently this is a standardized measurement.  Not only did I not scream much and survive, but I landed on my feet.

So, yeah… one small life goal accomplished.  Rock on.

 

Over the holiday weekend, (does anyone else feel weird wishing people a “happy” Memorial Day?  It just seems wrong -) I flew home for my first visit since moving to the great state of Texas.  My flight was scheduled for 2pm Friday, to which I traveled through shockingly light traffic and a mere 2 minutes of security.  Too good to be true?

You bet your ass.

After almost 3 hours of delays, 2 connection changes and the realization I wouldn’t get home before 1am Saturday, I bailed, to return 3 hours early Saturday.  (Hey, holiday weekends can be a beast, am I right?) 

Saturday morning security undammed the real maroons people tend to be.  High maintenance travelers who obviously had pockets full of dynamite and trace amounts of anthrax on their luggage somehow managed to pile ahead of me in the chutes spelling out my travel fate.  Damn them all.

But then, travel should be about more than just getting somewhere, shouldn’t it?

The truth is, airports have never really bothered me. After the usual annoyances, the rush, the slaving away under the hot, fast gaze of time, which speeds or slows itself just to spite us, each terminal is just a microcosmic equalizer. Everyone there trying to get somewhere else.  Life represented in external motion.

Besides, I did eventually get home. And I did see the majority of the most important people, however briefly. And it was beautiful there, and wonderful to be a part of it.

On the hassle-free return flights, I was, as I always am, struck by the temporary illusion flying allows us. The notion of defying gravity dissipates as we relinquish our small power in descent through the clouds.  As watercolor becomes diorama, then so many abandoned toys, then swiftly rushes you back into the importance of the earth beneath your feet.  Wherever you land.

Where do you want to land next?

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{photos: sodahead.com and me, post-jump}

Museums and May

mailCATXSV20Yesterday was International Museum Day. When I discovered that fact, I couldn’t have been happier to have the perfect excuse to plunder Austin on exhibit. That’s just the nerd I am.

To observe the occasion I decided to visit a couple of local spots – a difficult choice, given the volumes housed in the area, not to mention state.

But there are more days in the year. More weekends to fill. More blogs to post at some later date. For now, a brief sidetrack:

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(After driving my otherwise reasonably temperature controlled vehicle around town for an hour or so) It’s mid May. Balls to that!

Back on track –

I settled on the Austin Museum of Art’s Arthouse – one of two locations housing its works, and the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Both, as it turns out, illuminating and entertaining choices.

When I stepped into the Arthouse, I was personally welcomed by its staff, briefed on the exhibits, and told admission fees were waived in celebration of Museum Day. (Classy first impression, check!)

The first exhibit, “Constructed Landscapes” by Seher Shah, was both aesthetically interesting and intricate in its simplified form.

Oh hell, I’m no art critic. But I did like it. Here it is:

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Then I wandered into a short film exhibit, featuring Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago M Machado’s “O Seculo.” It was about ten minutes of trash being chucked into a street, complete with sound. I’m told it represents the industrial growth of the twentieth century. I consider myself a thoughtful, fairly open minded person in these matters. I sat through it twice, just to give myself time to mull it over. I get it – sort of. But the mundane presentation left me underwhelmed. Maybe that was the point.

A still:

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Finally, the interactive work titled “Temporary Insanity” by Pinaree Sanpitak consisted entirely of varying orb-like shapes meant to represent the female form, which responded to movement by rocking, humming, and creating their own rhythm. A concept I would have enjoyed exploring on my own… as it was, I found myself in the company of polyester-pantsed, sensibly shoed seniors who clapped, stomped and shouted at the artwork in an attempt to coax responses.

“Pearl, which one you wanna talk to?”

Oh well.

On second thought, what a fabulous idea for a children’s experience. Field trip, anyone?

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Next stop, the Bullock Museum, featuring the “Story of Texas.” The three level building houses a comprehensive history of the state, from native roots

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to pirates – or rather, their remains

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to missions

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and the moon.

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I was one of about 5 people NOT there to see the IMAX version of the new Star Trek movie… Although that would be cool, too. I found it a very well presented experience, far more impressive than even swelling Texas pride, more informative and thoughtful than so many stereotypes might offer. I feel all citizens, no matter where, should make the effort to learn about the places they inhabit. I know I plan to continue to do so.

Thinking back, there are other places that made big impressions on me over the years. A short list of some of my favorites:

The Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL

The Hershey Museum, Hershey, PA

The Ben Franklin Museum, Philadelphia, PA

The Smithsonian Museum of Art and National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

The Delta Blues Museum, Clarksdale, MS

The D-Day Museum, New Orleans, LA

The Pink Palace Museum, Memphis, TN

The American Textile History Museum, Boston, MA

The Natural History Museum, Salt Lake City, UT

The Field Museum, Chicago, IL

There are too many!

What are some of your favorite museums? Maybe they’ll be next on my list.