Health update:
not much new to report since last time,although my seizures have begun returning, and we’ll see if chemo this week increases them or does nothing….. I’ll be in touch…

In wanting to keep words coming of my brain while the machinery still works up there, even when I don’t have any thing deep or profound to discuss, I’ve decided to write down stories from photos I have lying around: looking at pictures makes me say, “That reminds me of a story,.’ so I’m going to try sharing those stories as much as I can (many of you might have been first-hand players in those stories, and can lend any supporting details in the comments).

First up: this little beauty.

Scene: early 90’s.  A pre-internet world, much bigger than the one we currently live in (my  exposure to other countries and their daily realities came largely from hardbound encyclopedias and the 6 o’clock news). My senior year of high school.

Player: enter sheltered farm kid, who could never be described as world savvy, nor particularly adventurous (I waited until I was about 17 to get my drivers license (back when you could get it at 16, and were usually beating down the door to do so).

Plot element # 1: enter brave, engaging teacher who believed young people needed to see the world in order to become true global citizens & not just economically-stable little worker bees, organizing a trip in which students who had already proven themselves to be responsible would be given the chance to embark on a whirlwind tour of the Middle East (Egypt, Israel, plus several points along the way).

Plot element # 2: observe nearly two weeks of minds being blown by rich cultural learning and the thrill of accessing new sights & sounds each day, coupled with erratic deep, new, plus adolescence in general, left our little ragtag group (of just over a dozen students, plus a handful of parents), feeling more than a bit exhausted in every possible way, the kind where things that aren’t funny are hilarious and things that are funny could result in pants-wetting…

Plot element #3: endure three or four nights of rapidly declining sleep quality, coupled with a nice dose of desert heat, compounded with that aforementioned adolescence (which just always makes thing more interesting), add a funky digression of lodgings, leading up (or down) to the “Red Star Inn,” a jump off point for snorkeling and  beaching on the Red Sea (yes, as awesome as it sounds!). Upon check-in, we knew these guys were a little off; with their greetings of “Welcome to Alaska! (a temperature joke)” to extensive bragging about the in-house discotheque
(a platform in the dining room, along with spinning mirror ball). When we got
to our rooms, the silly just kept coming by way of fake switches & knobs on
the walls. Early the next morning, we departed for that aforementioned day on
the water, only to return exhausted, sunburned, and in discovery of our blankets having been turned into people decorated with items from our luggage. The girls’ rooms were fully decked out with their souvenirs, whereas my blanket person had been listening to my Walkman long enough to determine that he didn’t care for Neil Diamond (look, I went through a Neil phase in high school, you’d best
just move along from that one) The blanket man on the left, on the other hand,
was unsuccessful in his attempt to make a call to the girl blankets, since that
phone was a plastic toy, Then as we retreated for a lovely evening in the
discotheque, a good laugh was had by all at just how creative the staff had
been in making us feel welcomed to Alaska.

Amidst memories of anthropomorphic linen silliness, I can genuinely look back at this adventure as a key turning point in my life, as it was really the first time I’d experienced the possibility of accessing the world (not for any particular oppression from such, it had just never even occurred to me that such was among my life options).  Learning to barter in the heart of the Middle East will change that real fast, as timidity is no longer an option when a good deal is at stake for both customer & shopkeeper; but that, like most other tales from this adventure shall be for another day.  I don’t know if I’ve ever properly thanked that brave teacher from Plot element #1 for helping set the momentum of my next 2 decades of amazing  travel experiences, unconventional life paths, and unexpected life twists handled with a full head of steam first acquired while acquiring a much needed sense of moxy back at the cusp of adulthood.  There, all that from one photo. And you’re getting the shortened version.