Route 66 Or Flat Tire Soul-A 10 Minute Poem Challenge

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The sadness I feel

Circles the earth three times

And travels from Illinois

Straight into my strangled heart

Like old Route 66

Following towns that have died

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Their 1940’s hotels

Deceased

With doors opened wide

And nothing left in those vacant rooms

But tarnished dreams

And a solitary piece of Wrigley’s gum

Which shall remain for eternity

Because it is non-biodegradable

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Next door pieces of theRoy’s diner sign

Remain

Paint peeling blood-red

The only thing left

Of Roy… Born in Brooklyn resting in Boot Hill

Is that dilapidated sign

Promising hot flapjacks

Slathered in broken dreams

Which you can find spilled along the highway

Today my heart looks like old Rt. 66

Full of potholes

Beer bottles littering the road

And tumbleweeds which barrel across

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This empty stretch of wasteland

Which held so much promise

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And like a once beautiful lady

Turned old, calloused and slightly bitter

Sitting on the porch of her

1950’s trailer

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Roof about to cave in

Sides sand blasted by years

Of exposure

I look towards the dark clouds

Gathering in the east

Wondering whether the storm in my heart

Will unleash a torrent of tears

Or if there are no longer

Any drops left to fall

For a deep unrelenting sadness

Seems to be percolating

Across the plains of my heart

Depressing any movement

Out of this hell hole

And like a useless old tire

A nail driven deep into it

I sit idle and unable to travel farther

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Along this old road

Which runs from Chicago to LA

And ends here

Somewhere near Bakersfield

On the corner of

Lost and Hope Streets

My heart split in two

Like this road

Which leads to the dreams of the dead

And to my future

Which lays in the middle of no where

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Letting Go Of Suffering

I have to admit that I have struggled since I wrote B the letter I shared in my last post. In this letter that I wrote to him, I told him exactly what I needed to hear from him…love words. I have yet to receive a comment from him about what I wrote nor have I heard the words that I long to hear. Frankly, it hurts and it has been bothering me for the past few days. Instead of enjoying what I have been given here in Michigan; I have been ruminating on what I don’t have back home.

Luckily, I woke up this morning to find something meaningful on my Facebook wall and it was exactly what I needed to see. It read:

“If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer. If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow.”

What wise words! Suddenly it took the sting out of this disappointment that I had been feeling for the past few days.  I realized that by allowing the hurt and disappointment I was feeling to cloud my day; I was indeed suffering and I was creating this suffering of my own accord. In fact, I was suffering more as every hour went by wishing for some sort of something from B…anything. So instead, I began to focus on the lessons I might find through this instance and found that there were many lessons that I could learn from if I chose to do so.

  1. The first lesson I discovered was that by acknowledging my feelings and then casting them aside I didn’t have to urge to carry them around with me like a suitcase stuffed full of heavy negative emotions. Yes, I was disappointed. Yes, his lack of response made me feel abandoned and scared. Yes, his withholding something from me that I plainly laid out that I needed from him made me feel anxious and wonder if he would still be there when I got home. Yet, by learning to view these feelings dispassionately; I was able to put the suitcase down and walk away from those hurtful actions and the resulting feelings I was experiencing. The lesson was much much valuable than the suffering could ever be.
  2. The second lesson I thought about was that I didn’t need B to acknowledge my heartfelt letter to be happy. Instead, I went about my day appreciating all of the people and things that I found around me. I was happy and didn’t need his lack of response to elicit any sort of reaction one way or another within me.
  3. The third lesson I concentrated on was that B will never be able to give me what I need because that is not who he is and that I have to learn to find happiness in what he can give instead of what he cannot if I want to  stay married to him.  B saying loving words is about as probable as a frog being able to bark like a dog…it isn’t going to happen.

 

After these discoveries I spent the day with my 82 yo father and 92 yo aunt. We went down to Lake Michigan and enjoyed the water, the waves, and the boats as they cruised through the canals.

I really treasure spending time with these two when they are together because they bicker like little kids. Nothing long and hard but just snippets like from when they were children. The things that they gripe about tickle my insides and I always break into a big smile as it happens.  Why, I wonder, is it easier to listen to them than to my own children when they go at it?

As I watched the two of them it occurred to me that my aunt has gotten to the place where the small hurts no longer effect her. She realizes that we all have flaws and for the most part she recognizes that we all do our best with what we have within us at the moment. But she wasn’t always like that and that in itself gives me hope that I can still change into the person I envision myself being. Someone who is at peace with the world and more importantly herself. Someone who grants grace rather than find fault. Someone who does not expect things from others and is disappointed when they don’t appear. Someone who wakes up each day grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow some more.

So as the day winds down I am counting my blessings. Glad that I am here with two people who are willing to share what they know and the love that they have for me willingly.

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On The Road Again

The word SO is the beginning word of almost every sentence by people uttered ’round these parts.

“Soooo… you go down to end of the road and make a right”

“Soooo… do you want pickles on your burger?”

Soooo…. where am I?

Well, I am on the road writing this from the spectacular country of Canada. Unlike California, it is green, fresh smelling, and water is everywhere. Barns outnumber people, roadkill is abundant, and sole proprietorships like JOE’S GAS STATION abound. I love it here.

This is an interesting trip for me. I am traveling with my 81 yo father who is starting to have memory problems. Makes for some interesting repeated conversations that start with “I didn’t know that!.” (He did) and end with “What did you say???? ” (Said at the top of his voice because his hearing is also going.) Getting old isn’t for sissies (or for their daughters.)

This expedition is special. My father is beginning to mellow a little in his old age. It makes for a closer relationship with him being a much better listener than when I was growing up. He chooses his words more carefully these days too. These are nice changes that I appreciate at my age. I also realize that he may not be around much longer so I am trying to make this a happy experience for the two of us and cram my head with memories that will sustain me when he is gone.

Two months ago, I decided I wanted to take this trip to Canada when I became genealogically frustrated. For years I have searched for information about where GG Grandfather was born, who his parents were, etc. I finally got tired of barking up the wrong trees and decided to come to the source to see if I could glean any new information. I am not hopeful as record keeping was done as an afterthought in these parts until the later decades of the 1800’s.  But I also know that information can often be found where you least expect it so I am going with that mindset for the next few days believing if I wish it hard enough that it will come true. Tomorrow we head further north to the place where my GG Grandmother was born in 1835.  It is hard to believe that I will be standing in the same miniscule town where she lived in a log cabin all those years ago. It must have been hard eking out a living as a farmer or miner in these parts of the country. I often wonder if people today could do the back-breaking work that are relations did before we all went soft.

This afternoon Dad and I spent our time together doing research at the local  public library but came up short. We searched through books, family histories and microfiche and found nothing. But it was enjoyable because I can say with good authority that there is nothing like the smell of old books. There is something about that odor that is comforting and takes you back to places that smell like cobwebbed attics or ancient barns. Old, yet, familiar smells. Like the scent of your grandmothers old wool coat or your grandfathers well-worn boots which smelled of pipe tobacco and stood up by themselves over on the back porch. The funny thing is, while I found nothing about my family, I did find something about B’s purely by chance. The information was contained within a book about the Donnelly family. I first found out about this saga several years ago when I was researching B’s family. To my surprise and horror I learned that one of B’s relatives had probably been involved in a mob killing of several members of the Donnelly family. It was interesting to read about it today from a fresh perspective and learn more about the movie that was made about this small town tragedy.

Tomorrow we will head out early as Dad likes to get a jump on the day. I think he believes that he has a limited amount of hours left on this earth and he doesn’t want to spend them laying in bed. No, by golly,  he wants adventure.  He wants to see new places before he passes. And he wants to find THE BEST chicken sandwich that has ever graced a hungry customers plate. This new attitude of his inspires me to want the same for myself.

So here I am on the road again. Just me, my old man and some new memories that the two of us are collecting along the way. Today, I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about myself, my father, and my past. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

BTW, you know you are in Canada when…

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Rare Days

Some days just turn out better than you think they will. B went home with two of the kids while Andre stayed with me. This can be a bit of a challenge because basically Andre likes to be left alone…completely alone. Here we are at the ocean basking in the coolness of the water’s fresh breeze and Andre just wants to stay in his room all day. As a person with autism, finding a spot to feel comfortable is his main priority. Dealing with people and the newness of places and situations are the crux in his craw. I did manage to get him to walk along the cliffs one afternoon but he complained the entire time and made the trip somewhat miserable. He does that when he is doing something he doesn’t want to do…he makes it taxing and a chore in hopes that you will never ask him to do anything like that with you ever again.

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So today, I woke him up and told him we were going to a town about two hours away to take the train. He told me he didn’t want to go on the train but wanted to visit the museum. Unfortunately, we got there 10 minutes after the museum closed so instead we went to lunch, walked around town and went into some shops. It really wasn’t his kind of day but on the way home he said, ” I really had a good day with you Mom. Thank you.” Needless to say, I almost fainted for he rarely lets you know if he appreciates something much less tells you he enjoys your company. It was one of those rare moments that is so surprising and lovely that it suddenly feels as if life has picked you up and carried you away to Nirvana. Everything is right with the world and your place in it and after a weekend in which B talked separation, it was such a nice place to be.

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Later this evening I went down to the Lodge. It was one of the situations that you are trying to talk yourself into doing. Should I stay home or leave. Which will it be? The stay at home option almost won out but I eventually, after a heated debate with myself, chose to go to the bar. I took my drink outside to one of the comfy Adirondack chairs and parked myself in it to watch the sun disappear over the ocean while pinks, golds and yellows filled the sky. Flocks of pelicans flew in V formation past the cliffs while Sid the Great Blue Herron strutted his stuff. The temperature was perfect, the scenery divine and I had the place to myself…until a tall good-looking man about my age appeared out of nowhere. As it turned out he was from the local Buddhist temple complex and as we sat and talked I became “enlightened.” I have always strayed to the edge of Buddhist philosophy for years while attending Christian church at the behest of my husband putting my own religious convictions on the back burner. The talk that this gentleman and I had soothed my soul and it felt nice to be appreciated and admired by a nice man again.

Yes, some days take you by surprise. Today was one of those rare and glorious days and it felt just like a day when my garden is in full bloom!

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Pioneer Woman

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It is hot here. I mean so F***ing hot that you could cook an egg on the side walk. Like 110 degrees hot and I am complaining like there is no hell for me in sight. Why? My air conditioner went out. Yes, while it is 110 outside, it is a balmy 101 inside and there is no relief in site. Meanwhile I am sweating like a dog trying to install a ceiling fan. That is not going so well either. It has been three hours and it still isn’t up but my blood pressure certainly is! I’ll probably die of my head exploding rather than heat stroke any minute. All of this begs the question….how did those women do it 120 years ago in the Southwest? I mean seriously…how?

Now I consider myself to be somewhat of a tough old broad. I can do a little plumbing, drive a nail or two and can give an evil eye to someone to raise the hair on the back of their neck. I can survive an “almost divorce” and come out of it almost sane. But when I think of doing laundry on a washboard in the sun, tending to a huge garden big enough to feed a family for a year, canning all that food, beating the rugs, sweeping the floors and making dinner in an oven that raised the raised the temperature of the house 30 degrees, well, sometimes I think I truly don’t know the meaning of tough.

Once upon a time women really were tough. They came overland by covered wagon with all their worldly possessions on board; unsure of just exactly where in the world  they would end up. My GGG grandmother’s dresser sits as a testament to her wagon travels in my daughter’s room.  Clarissa was a smart one, I’ve been told. When she married she received a cow for a present which she promptly exchanged for a handsome wood dresser. It was probably a good exchange for any woman during that time. For Clarissa knew if she kept that cow, she would be the one put out of the wagon, walking along beside the beast while prodding it along to lands unknown.

We now live in a world where we no longer know how to grow our own food, grind our own grains, make our own furniture, or have the stomach to butcher our own meat. Which makes me wonder what would happen if the world as we know it ceased to exist. Would it be dog eat dog or would people band together to act as a community in a land that really hasn’t known what one is for a very long time? I would like to think that community would prevail but with all the violence in a world where people tend to look out for #1 to the detriment of neighbors and friends; I cannot be too sure.

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And so this not-so-tough old broad worries sometimes. I worry for my children and my grandchildren making it an a world that gets more confusing everyday. I fear the madmen of the world who would just as soon blow us up as take the time to do what is ethical and just. I an concerned that companies are willing to destroy our environment in the quest for the almighty dollar. I am uneasy that antibiotics are fast becoming resistant and that coral reefs are bleaching out and dying. But most of all I worry that I haven’t done a good enough job making my kids tough enough to survive with less material things and more experienced in the arts of carpentry, making their own soap and butchering a cow should hard times fall upon us.

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Yes, I am a tough old broad…but is my family tough enough to live off the land should they have to?  Could they survive on the six months of dehydrated food that I keep for just this occasion? Could they do the back-breaking work that so many women are forced to do to eek out a living in these times? Dirty, hard work that I have watched women do while I sit in the back of an air conditioned car during my travels. Work the likes of which I most likely will never experience.  And would the few books I have on making your own chicken coop and creating a below ground garden help? I hope I will never have to find out the answer to that question.

 

 

Home Alone Horror

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Home Alone is one of the most seen movies in the world. Although it was made years ago, you can always find it on one channel or another because it is a family favorite. It is funny and it makes you laugh out loud…unless it comes to roost in our own life. Then it ain’t so funny!

B and I were heading home from New York the other day after a wonderful weekend anniversary trip. Though we had been through two years of a “maybe” divorce, this weekend felt like we were in love again. That is when the sitter texted me.

I JUST LOOKED AT MY WORK SCHEDULE AND I HAVE TO WORK TONIGHT. I WILL NEED TO LEAVE AT 10 p.m.

“THAT IS FINE,” I texted back. “WE WILL BE HOME FROM THE AIRPORT AROUND 10:15 .SO IT ISN’T REALLY A PROBLEM”…until it was.

Standing in the crappy line with a GROUP 6 boarding ticket while annoying, is not a problem. Usually. Unless, you step on everyone’s toes and piss them off, while trying to maneuver yourself  back to the cockpit to get your suitcase checked because all the overhead bin space is taken. Placing your belongs in the overhead bin…no problem…for the GROUP 1-5 passengers. GROUP 6…FORGET IT! Fastening my seatbelt was easy as pie as my anti-anxiety “fear of flying” pill kicked in.  Everything was going as expected until these words were uttered by the cute and spunky stewardess whom everyone suddenly looked like they wanted to slap:

” PLEASE RETRIEVE YOUR BELONGINGS AS EVERYONE WILL NEED TO DEPLANE. THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH THE EMERGENCY SLIDE AND GROUND MAINTENANCE HAS TO BE CALLED TO FIX THE ISSUE.”

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Now I will confess I try to keep positive in these types of situations. I mean, after all, it is better to be riding on a “fixed” plane than a “broken” one. But an emergency slide? Really? I mean how often are they used anyway?. Hell, I thought, if there turns out to be an issue, I will gladly stand at the open slide-less door and just toss people out onto the ground below. Problem fixed. Now, let’s get this freaking show on the road!

A collective groan so loud it nearly popped the rivets holding the plane together ensued. This was followed by a sound reminiscent of a herd of lumbering and pissed-off elephants starting back up the gangway.

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Faces that had been smiling only 5 minutes previous were now pinched and drawn. The variety of cuss words I overheard was astounding and during the race to the customer service center several people nearly lost there lives. Frankly, there was not enough free alcohol in the entire terminal that could cheer up this downcast and angry crowd.

As B and I stood in the wrap-around line waiting to talk to that poor unlucky agent who had been plucked by the previous 50 ticket holders; it finally dawned on us that we had a problem. A serious one.  We only had an hour layover after we landed before we were to catch our final plane home. Unfortunately, this was the last plane for the night we were soon to discover.  Suddenly, were having our own HOME ALONE moment and nothing about it was the least bit entertaining.

Now being home alone is okay in our household during the day but certainly not overnight. We knew that Andre wouldn’t care as long as he could lay around in his underwear eating chips without being bothered by anyone. Change is hard for kids with autism but as long as there is food available and no one around to boss him around; Andre was happy.

Paul started crying over the telephone. The unknown is difficult for him but an unexpected change of plans is a catastrophe. . Let’s just say this didn’t fit into his scheme of things and the breakdown started.

Gracie…well, she isn’t one for being away from her Mommy and Daddy…especially at night. But we knew she would suck it up if she had to.

And so we started calling everyone we knew as the minutes started ticking away. 10 minutes late. 20 minutes. 40 minutes. 50 minutes…which was the point of no return. We were now officially screwed. Finally, an hour and 40 minutes later we lifted off unsure of what the future held…except that most likely Children’s Protective Services might be giving us a visit in the near future.

As nicely as I could I explained our situation to the stewardess. HOME ALONE.  TWO WITH AUTISM. MELTDOWN.

“Would you like a beverage?” she responded cheerfully.

I was tempted to ask for a double scotch on the rocks but decided that a drunk absentee parent was most certainly worse than a sober one when talking to government officials. Therefore, I took my seat,  bought the WI-FI service for $29.95 and sent out a plea for help on Facebook. I am happy to report that by the time we landed, I had three friends offer to help and a neighbor who informed me that she would take the kids to school. These are the times in life when “do unto others as you would have them do onto you” suddenly takes on a whole new meaning.

Flying five hours across the country we still had hope that we would make our flight but it was not to be. So we took our food vouchers and ate dinner in the airport, then took the shuttle bus to our hotel and finally settled in to watch a movie. When we turned on the t.v, guess what was being shown? Yep, you’re right… it just happened to be HOME ALONE. That apparently is the way we roll.

 

 

 

Maybe…

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A month ago B told me that he was going to China for 10 days. I wasn’t invited and I was hurt as going to China has become somewhat of an annual pilgrimage for us. Besides, although it is for “business”, in truth, he doesn’t really need to go. His partner can take care of it and B doesn’t speak Mandarin anyway. It is really an excuse to just get away from the daily grind of home, office, family and me I’m afraid.

Then about 10 days ago I asked if B was going anywhere else besides the town he usually goes to because it seemed to me that 10 days in that one spot was unusual. He replied “Oh, I am also going to Taiwan” Really? When did you think you would inform me of this news? Oh, and not with your partner…by yourself. How interesting! Oh its part of your business plan now to tour facilities? So are you really going to do something different because of this knowledge you will acquire? Well no. I didn’t think so.

When I mentioned to B that I was hurt about not getting an invitation to accompany him his reply was that I was taking Gracie to Florida for a diving competition. Really? That’s the best you can come up with? I get to go somewhere with bitchy back-biting diving moms and worry about schedules, practices and hauling around a 12-year-old who has recently decided to get strung out on teenage girl hormones while you have 10 days basically to yourself. Hmmmm. Someone is getting the better end of the deal and it isn’t me.

So I asked B if this was the start of us taking vacations apart from one another. He looked surprised and said no. But I feel like this separateness is saying something in and of itself about us, about him, and about our relationship. It worries me. And so, after much thought on my part,  I told B that I think it is the start of something new for us because I will also be going on vacation alone just like he is. That I need time alone and adventure too.

Now part of me feels guilty about this. The woman who doesn’t value herself enough thinks that perhaps I am not deserving of this time alone. Most mothers don’t get it so why do I need it? The devoted wife thinks…come on…there is a difference between going somewhere on “business ” which B is doing and going just to go which is also what B is doing. There is the financially responsible person in me who says you need to save your money…you have been plenty of places so don’t be a bitch. The weary mother of boys with autism and a marriage that is still mending says…go…recharge your battery. Use this as a time of self discovery outside of the usual daily carpooling routine.

And so I am torn. Trying to decide if I am just seeking a kind of perverse tit-for-tat “revenge” for the disappointment I feel at being excluded, if I am trying to make a statement, or if I am looking out for myself in the best possible of ways and giving myself what I need to grow spiritually and emotionally. Maybe a combination of all. And as I contemplate this I am perusing the internet of exotic places…India, the Seychelles, Africa…dreaming of what it would be like to have the freedom and the guts to take a trip for me, myself, and I, with no remorse or guilt on my part. Can I do it? I’m not sure at this point but I think that 18 months of therapy and a marriage that was teetering on the brink might have taught me a few things… the primary one being is that I matter. That my dreams, needs, and thoughts matter and for some foolish reason I let go of that strong confident ball-busting young woman I once was… and that I miss her…a lot… and that I want her back. And I also wonder that if I take a chance… if I just step out and up…if I might find that confident, intelligent and oh-so-sure of herself slightly older  and more colorful woman again somewhere in India because I haven’t yet found her here.

Does going somewhere new and doing something different change you? Does challenging yourself help you grow balls? I’m not sure… but I think I would like to find out and if I do I can only hope that I will bring back so much more than I left with.

 

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It’s Been A While

So it’s been a while since I have blogged. Life has gotten in the way. One of the reasons I have not been blogging is because I have been so ill and when you feel that sick just putting one foot in front of the other is sometimes the only thing you can manage to do.

The other reason I have been absent is that I just returned from South Korea. It was a blast. That is not to say that autism didn’t rear its head like a dragon…it did but we managed to keep the fire contained within the dragon’s mouth.

I love Korea. Not just because it is where my children were born but because of the numerous surprises that greet you while you are there. Like it raining and someone just hands you their umbrella and continues on their way. Like the fact that my children are now old enough to sit away from these two big white folks so they can blend in and become part of the majority instead of always being part of the minority. I wish I could give them that freedom every day of their lives. And I like the fact that pumpkin is valued and eaten in so many different ways.

I love seeing the small boats out with the huge freighters as they ply the waters for fish along the coast. I love the hidden temples and that sort of foggy mystical reverence that permeates the air.Riding the bullet trains are almost orgasmic with their down the the minute time tables and the snack carts that sell dried squid. I also love the open markets in which you can find the mass-produced and the antique amongst all the noise that radiates off of the stalls. And the smells of noodles of all kinds, ginger, kimchee and steaming hot bean buns bought just as they come out of the molds are to die for.

There is something about Korea…a people who have been taken over by invaders again and again. Who have known war too often the results of which allows them to then hold the holy and the beautiful above all else…even their pain. Same goes for my children whose understanding of their short lives here is bittersweet. Joy and pain sometimes it is one in the same.

And then we came home and I immediately went in for an endoscopy because I have been so sick with severe reflux for so long. And while I await the results I decided to try the anti-reflux diet and stop drinking coffee…and the next day feel so good that I don’t take the prescription medicine that never makes me feel great. And the next day I feel great. Better than great. And so I stop coffee and pills and one week later I feel better than I have for the past two years.

So now I rejoice. For travel. For discovery. For the happiness of my family. And for my health. And for the oh-so painful re-discovery of myself, my husband and my marriage over the past 18 months.dsc04814

I’m thinking that 2017 is going to be a pretty great year! I hope it is for you too!

 

Busan

Today we took the bullet train south. I love the train system here and wish that in the States we had a great train system like they do all over Asia.  In 2 1/2 hours we were down at the opposite end of the country and it was a great ride. Smooth, fast and comfy and in a blink of an eye we were there.

I love Busan, South Korea. It is a very special town to me because one of my children was born here. I first visited it about 15 years ago and I have to say it has changed. No longer the sleepy port city it once was, it is now a vibrant, racy place with a touch of its past tucked within its alleys.

Busan is a town that reminds me of another…San Francisco. Hilly, temperate and scenic this city is a place I could spend a lot of time at. One of my favorite things about it is the food. I love Changseondong Meokja Golmok food alley. Here you will find live eels, octopi and other sea creatures ready for the grill…or not. One of the delicacies here are live octopi swallowed whole which I am told tickles when it slides down your throat. I do not think I will be that brave but I wish I was.

But rather than tell you about Busan, here are some pictures to show you what a great food town this is. Bon Appetite!

 

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