Friday, December 23, 2011

Procrastination Follows Me Home

Thanks to years of employment I finally got to know myself a little bit.  I procrastinate tasks I don’t know how to do. I can overcome it sometimes.  One time management guru taught me to break jobs down into small tasks. And to always list tasks with a verb.

We’re having a big Christmas Eve family gathering here, and I am having a great time getting ready. But there’s one task I'm procrastinating. My sister kindly lent me her glue gun for decoration repairs. I find it a bit intimidating so it’s been sitting on the kitchen counter while productivity is happening all around it.  Will Rudolph get his antler back? Will pine cones get back where they belong? Add to list “open glue gun”. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Places to go - People to see

My travel partner had to be in Singapore for work and asked her colleagues where we should head for a three day weekend. One of the locals suggested we head to Hoi An, Viet Nam, so off we went. From home we did the paperwork for visa on arrival, obtaining a letter of invitation from our hotel.  Travel note: visa on arrival is a better strategy when you don’t have a connecting flight to catch. We ran through the Ho Chi Min airport to catch our flight to Da Nang because a ninety minute layover was a bit tight for the elegant hand completed visa.

 Our weekend in Viet Nam was cool and rainy. We enjoyed strolling through historic Hoi An.  There are few cars and many motorbikes. The opening up into free markets has created lots of motorbike related entrepreneurs.

We were knocked out by My Son. It was misty and mysterious. According to Lonely Planet we bombed it destroying some of the largest temple ruins, until the French complained to Nixon. Another sign of the war was a newspaper story about a woman, infertile from Agent Orange, caring for children with deformities caused by Agent Orange. So I had to face it, and it was disconcerting. 

In a weekend I didn't glean the state of things. Current political conversations were fun. Living appears to be very basic. There weren't any Coca Cola signs in the villages we saw, and there's that "lack of development is quaint" ambivalence.  The food is terrific and was a highlight. Fresh greens in everything. It is somehow light and rich at the same time.


We came home for two days, headed to Miami for work and then up to Naples to visit our niece and family. I got the “slice of life” I was hoping for with wonderful kids age five, seven and nine. This is the moment I was seeking, complete with a Hannah Montana ornament.

When people asked me why I was retiring I sometimes answered  “places to go and people to see”. So far, so good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Singapore Musuem Riches

This sign put spring in my step as I approached the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore.  I especially love textiles. This was a great show displaying woven, printed, waxed, or ikated fabric that traders brought from India to exchange for goods throughout Asia. Some of the fabric had been treasured and preserved in high safe spots by island families for a couple of hundred years.  It could be that Singaporeans are on the defense but the show made the point that globalization started a long long time ago. Singapore’s blend of cultures is evidence.

At the Peranakan Museum I learned about generations descended from arriving Chinese men and local Malay woman. This wedding headdress is made up of 600 individual pins.

Keeping Bad Company?

Singapore is a good place to worry about globalization. This city does shopping malls better than anywhere I have been. They are clean, cool, busy, and wind underground for miles. A December visit adds Christmas music and glitzy decorations to the dazzling commercial display.  I have layers of resistance to ”stuff” and universal brands, yet feel funny about wishing away modernity and prosperity when I have benefited from these environmental factors all my life.

 One result of Singapore’s prosperity is huge museums full of sights that enrich my brain and soul. At the National Museum of Singapore I also found companionship. The interpretive displays at a travelling Musee D’Orsay exhibit explained that some impressionist artists were resisting industrialization. That explains the paintings of peasants and haystacks. They sought them out and idealized them.  Occasionally they grappled with current realities by allowing an industrial smokestack in the distance.

The Pre-Raphaelites harked back to medieval painting before western rules of painting were established by Raphael.  I feel solidarity with their nostalgia. I am awed with how constructively they expressed it in gorgeous paintings that have lasted 100-150 years. And I appreciate the company as I sort through my layers of resistance.