Friday, March 13, 2015

Alternative Spring Break

One day last week, it was 80 degrees warm in Miami, just a two day’s drive south from New York to the end of Interstate 95. Instead of this appealing adventure, I spent time in DC with family. Here is what I did: Take Account It does not get easier than if you’ve done it before. On a previous break, I had put my writings and musical compositions into a filing cabinet. I’m pretty impressed that so much of it made the trip from the Saint Thomas Choir School in New York, and survived up to a decade in shoeboxes. Some works are not yet accounted for: these are digital files currently on my brother’s thumb drive. They have passed through two generations of computers at home, as well. Replicate Fire is man’s best friend and fiercest enemy. Over the ages, too many creative thoughts have been lost to fire, whether by accident or intention. However, it is becoming common practice for artists and writers to preserve minor works, perhaps inspired by the bidding wars on great artists’ scraps of paper. Poet Allen Ginsberg, for example, published a work containing several drafts of his controversial poem “Howl”. More likely than fire, there will be the accidental “oops” moment that a box of sentimental papers get thrown into the dumpster. “Papers” are emphasized, since it’s less likely for grandma’s knick knacks to be tossed. The best remedy is to have a duplicate. Binders are a good investment. It is worth the five dollars to be able to keep papers in order. It took some time to copy the odd-sized sheets of musical composition, but I feel good that I have duplicates. Giuseppe Verdi By my mother’s recommendation, I am watching a seven-part series on the 19th century composer Giuseppe Verdi. He is best known for a series of operas, from La Troubadour to Aida, and even non-opera goers will recognize some of the arias. Living a long life, his Italy went from Napoleonic control, to Austrian control, to independence. A national figure who gave Italy its national anthem, his funeral in 1901 was filmed on early motion picture. After gaining some success in his opera works, Verdi owned managed agricultural lands in his family’s provincial home town. Recreation Spring break gave me the right conditions to stretch the leg muscles. While the beginning of this past winter was alright in New York, February’s 28 days were chilly: 25 degrees Fahrenheit was a warm day. Indeed, Long Island Sound, a brackish body of water, was frozen, asides from a shipping channel. The ice at the edge of the Sound measured 8 inches thick at Kings Point, sturdy enough for the first game of ice hockey on campus. Although I am no fan of treadmills, only using them while on ships, I came to accept them as a necessary fitness measure during this cold February. DC’s more temperate 40’s to 50’s weather allowed me to enjoy the outdoors again. Sleep When finals week comes, I willingly sacrifice sleeping hours on the promise that I’ll make them up on the following week of break. So sleeping I have done: no alarm clocks. Discovery No secret to locals, Virginia has been eating the DC region’s lunch when it comes to economic growth. Seeing is believing. The first sign was the increase of reverse-commuting on my Interstate 66 (no relationship to the legendary Western road). Next came the towers of suburban Tyson’s Corner. They spring up organically, and resemble a modern skyline of an Asian metropolis. Then came sustainable transportation: Last summer, the Metrorail’s Silver Line, an elevated subway line, arrived. I took my first ride this spring break, to the thriving Tyson’s Corner Mall. I enjoyed sampling espresso at Nespresso’s store, and was surprised by the store’s brisk patronage. Being ahead of the times, Tyson’s Corner Mall is now both the anchor of a transit-oriented community, in addition to its role as a megamall.