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I thought about writing a long autobiography here, but no one has the time to read something like that. Instead, I offer you some lists of my favorite things:
My kids – all five of ‘em. And especially my wife.
Some of the Best Books I’ve Read:
The Brother’s Karamazov, Dostoevsky
The Moonstone, Collins
The Grapes of Wrath, Sinclair
Jane Eyre, Brontë
The Earthsea Trilogy, LeGuin
The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien
A Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy, Adams
Interesting Places I’ve Been:
India – New Delhi and Varanasi
I went with a friend from college whose brother was working in Varanasi. We stayed for 7 weeks in the middle of the summer. Memorable moments: Getting caught in a monsoon rain while riding in a rickshaw; taking a rowboat on the Ganges river and eating pizza in a pizzaria right off the river (random, right?); going out with a local friend to a public swimming pool where everyone was amazed not only at the color of my exceptionally white skin, but also that I could swim a breath-stroke without drowning; feeling more homesick than I’ve ever felt in my life; playing my favorite song in a coffee shop and getting lots of applause; and visiting the Taj-Mahal.
London – For a brief, 9-hour layover on our way back from India that was far too short a time to enjoy the city. Memorable Moments: Taking a photo of my friend, Ben, in front of Big Ben; Some random guy cussing me out because I was an American (this was shortly after the U.S. invaded Afghanistan); Seeing the Queen’s palace and the changing of the guard (she wasn’t at home at the time); and finally when Ben, who had suffered a beef-free existence in India for seven weeks, suddenly got a craving for a burger while in London during the whole “mad-cow” scare. I’m so ashamed to write this, even now, but we ended up at Burger King (you’re welcome, London) for lunch. I did it for Ben, and I think I ordered some french fries. Someday, I hope to return and redeem myself with a good brown ale, fish, and chips after a visit to the Globe Theater.
Costa Rica – Spanish Immersion Trip with my wife, about a year or two after we were married. Memorable Moments: The beautiful cataratas (waterfalls); long walks and adventures with Leslie; four hours of daily lessons in Spanish, followed by an hour and a half of study, followed by fun adventures; watching Costa Rica play in the World Cup while sitting in a pub in Costa Rica; eating cacao straight from the fruit in the botanical gardens (the seeds are actually quite large, about the size of a small apricot, and they are surrounded by a delicious yogurt-like substance that’s even better than chocolate); punching a cork tree with my bare fist; ziplining through a rain-forest; hanging out on the beaches of Puerto Viejo (where I saw the largest spiders I have ever seen, slept in a hammock, and climbed to the top of a fifty-foot coconut tree); trying unsuccessfully to learn the samba while wearing sandals; witnessing the entire village where we lived shut down one evening when the movie The Titanic aired on TV; learning enough Spanish to ask our tour guide to take us to a waterfall (he took us to one he liked to go to as a child – there were no tourists and it was beautiful); and finally the satisfaction of learning enough Spanish to have an entire conversation with a man from Honduras in the Florida airport on a delayed flight.
Seoul, South Korea – Memorable moments: Meeting my children, of course. We adopted from South Korea. Long airplane flights; watching Paxton learn to jump off of steps in one of the palace gardens, which made the security guard smile; feeling overwhelmed on our first trip, where we only ate street-food because we were too afraid to order at a restaurant; our first night alone with Edric; walking through the art-college district and seeing so many people it was dizzying; a random Italian restaurant that served its pasta in bowls shaped like little toilets (I’m not making this up); eating bulgogi, and drinking soju for the first time; learning enough Korean to ask for directions; and almost falling off of the top of Bukhansan, a mountain near Seul where we hiked and were completely unprepared for the snow and ice on the trail. By our second trip, we had learned to order food and ate at some great restaurants. My favorite, though, was a place in one of the markets. It was little more than a stall and served us more food than we could eat for the least amount of money we had had to pay at any of the larger restaurants.