Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Weekend recap

Friday night’s cocktail party was well worth all that damn work we put in. The party was attended by coworkers of Andy’s. Not much eye candy for me but, I found them to be very nice people (if not the wildest bunch). And I swear, one of them came right out Middle Earth’s Shire. Just the tiniest person without being considered a dwarf or midget! Technically. I think.
The music was eclectic and jamming (god bless the Ipod). People mingled and couldn’t stop drinking the homemade punch. Andy felt the tv should be on in case anyone was interested in watching the opening ceremonies and first game of the World Cup. Interestingly enough, for all the yap-yap about the World Cup, no one played any attention to it. So, off went the tube.
During the party, I learned that Scotland’s equivalent to the New Jersey is the town of Dundee. Everyone not from NJ talks much smack about the state, and Jerseyites hate it. Dundee people are no different.
A sweet young woman, Fiona, gave me a 50 pence coin stuck in a champagne cork (a Scottish tradition) to welcome me to Scotland and for luck. In all, I received several invitations for lunches and outings with the ladies. I truly appreciated that.

The next day, Andy and I drove up with his older brother and wife (John and Gillian) to spend the weekend with Andy’s parents (Bert and Margaret) in the highlands, for his dad’s 66th birthday. What a lovely time. I was good about alcohol but I did smoke quite of few cigars. Not to worry about the lungs, like Bill Clinton, I too, did not inhale. It’s amazingly beautiful up there. Instead of crickets as background field noise, I got sheep. Laying in bed with Andy, we’d hear the occasional “baaah” and Andy would jokingly say “ah, the voice of my first girlfriend”.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Sat. evening in the highlands started with a cocktail party in the backyard. All of the neighborhoods of the other 3-4 cottages came. The best part for me was having a conversation with their neighbor Bob. He told me about how he was born in a dirty railway car—his mother, alone to deliver him by herself. This man, now in his 80s, has had quite a life: lied at age 15 to enlist in the Navy and fight during WWII. The ship he was on was attacked and it sank. Most escaped. He later ended up in Kenya working on coffee and tea estates. Bob told me some horror stories like the one with a woman in labor who, crawled to his door for help. He whisked her into his car and tried to get her to the hospital on time. She ended up giving birth in his car, blood and afterbirth everywhere. After all this time, I could still hear a tone of guilt when he talked about how dirty the back of his car was…obviously not expecting to create a sterile environment for any reason.
When he got her to the hospital, the attendants begrudgingly took her in, but took no care to handle the woman or her baby with much care. The medical aides made no attempt to even help the woman hold her newborn baby in her arms.
Bob said that her baby with the umbilical cord was still dangling between the woman’s legs as they took her away.

Talk about not judging a book by its cover! There were more stories that I took away but nearly as much as I wanted to hear. To look at him, it’s easy to think him a rickety shell of a man, with death breathing down the back of his neck. He could just be like any other old man, living out the last of his days in the same place where he was born, a beautiful but quiet glen in the mountains. And yet, the little time I spent with him demonstrated that this man has enough real-life experiences throughout the world to make at least 3 best sellers.
His wife, Thea told me that he wasn’t interested in writing any memoirs. Such a shame, I think. So much we could learn from him. I didn’t get to talk to Bob for more than 15 minutes or so. But I’ll never forget him.

Good Health vs. Good Shape

Sunday, John (Andy’s brother) wanted to take us up the “hill” to an unrecorded Roman fortified site. “Possibly 2500 years old”, John said excitedly. “You’re an archaeologist, you should find it interesting.”
Actually, no. I don’t know anything about Roman sites in Britain. Not that interested either. But one must be polite. Besides, you never know!
“It’s only up part of the hill; not terribly far to go,” John persisted.
“Sure, I’ll go,” was all I could say with any sincerity. Besides, I needed some exercise.
I threw on my sneakers or “trainers” as they are called on this side of the pond and off we went.

Ok, so the climb was a f-ing bitch! Yeah, it was pretty and majestic, and all that shit. But damn!! I was struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
I mean, damn! How high were we going?!

“You doing ok? Can you keep going?” John kept asking me all these questions, as he was damn near TROTTING up the fucking slope. What the hell?!
I could only make hand gestures because all my concentration was centered on taking in as much oxygen as I could with every inclined step. Right foot, step forward. Breathe in. Left foot, step forward. Breathe out. Repeat.

Fuck. These “highlanders” are half mountain goat!
There’s no way one can get fat if you had to go up and down these damn mountains all the freaking time.
To keep going, I rotated various fantasies in my head: Me beating John and Andy to a pulp for making me do this; watching these boys struggle to not get shot in my Miami neighborhood; how nice it would feel to lie in a Jacuzzi while being fed pitted cherries by that hot black actor on the "Grey’s Anatomy" show; Ok, maybe the boys do get grazed by a bullet or two while being chased down in my old neighborhood.

And when we finally got to the site, all one could see was a very large circle of fallen rocks. Mind you, they were big rocks, obviously set there for some reason. But that’s it.

After farting around up there, we decided to trek back down. I figured this would be the easy part, right? Downhill is always better. But what I learned was that it doesn’t always mean easier.
A hill that high and that steep is still work, when walking downward. It was a strain on my knees and thighs. Then I started getting really itchy on my stomach and back. I had to stop and have a full 5 mins stratch-a-thon! I freaked out a little and yelled to Andy, “I think I’m allergic to something! Something got on my skin and I’m breaking out! Oh, shit, my stomach’s on fire!!”
Well, turns out, I didn’t get anything on me. No allergic reaction. All that itchy sensation was due to my back fat and stomach fat forced to move for the first time in god knows how long!
Now, no one would say I’m fat, but I’m no anorexic chick either. I could stand to be in better shape. I’m in great health but I’m in lousy shape! And my body was definitely screaming at me.
Thankfully, my treat came the next morning.
John was in the kitchen making tea. “Did you guys sleep ok?”
“Yup, we slept fine,” I answered. “Why?”
“Oh. Just wondering.”
Turns out, John had trouble sleeping because his legs were giving him trouble. “Must have been climb yesterday.”


At Jun 14, 2006, 6:20:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, you're an ocean away and you're still bitching about NJ? No wonder our unofficial state motto is "Need a helping hand? How about the finger instead?"

At Jun 14, 2006, 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Peggy Brunache said...

Aw...now, did you not read the post closely? I never slammed NJ but, I know so many others do. I just thought it was interesting that Scotland has a place just like that.


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