I’ve spent the last eight months trying to decide what I wanted to do with the site, and I think I’ve finally landed on it.
I’ve decided to (re)launch North of 50,
with a clearer focus on women (of a certain age) and the adventure of
experiencing other cultures and places.
If you followed N50 before, you know that throughout 2018, I posted a piece every Sunday for the entire year to the site (some posts you can still see; others have been deleted because I closed the premium account and they are now irretrievable on the site—not to worry–I had them all made into a book).
On reflection, the problem was that the site as a whole lacked focus, so I closed it off on the last Sunday of 2018, when I set it up to post, as I was on the edge of the Amazon rain forest at an eco-lodge with no mobile or internet. Which was fine.
Taking some time to think about what I wanted to write about, and then discovering some amazing people and their stories, I’ve decided what I want to do. Honestly? I think I ultimately wanted to take this path all along; I just couldn’t figure out how to get there.
What I’ve learned is that no one person can know everything (or in my case, pretend to know). It’s about all of us and our experiences; it’s the collective voice that tells the story best.
I like to think of myself as a writer with a little bit of skill, and I know that I love to tell a good story. Or a good bad story. Or a funny story. Or to share useful information. And that’s what I want the new North of 50 to do.
I want it to inform, entertain, explain….and above all, share the voices of experience—yours—in navigating the world—and life in general.
I hope you’ll follow along—and maybe
contribute. After all, I think we can
all agree…it’s all about the journey.
Back with more info next month (and hopefully a new look–if I can figure out the technology)—get ready to share your stories!
Oh, and there’s a new email if you want to reach out: Northof50info@gmail.com
I haven’t done as much as I should have to advance the new North of 50….and now—today, as you’re reading this–I’m (hopefully) sitting on a beach eating egg sandwiches and drinking decent, hot coffee with a friend or two as the sun slides up into the sky and summer slowly winds to a close. Or maybe we’re wading knee-deep in warm salt water, crabs skittering over our feet while feathery stands of red and green seaweed wrap themselves around our calves like strands of…..well, seaweed (at least I hope it’s seaweed) in still bay waters on a quiet Sunday morning. Or maybe I’m still asleep at my brother’s house.
Whatever the scene—it’s Labor Day weekend
on eastern Long Island—the place where I grew up, and the place that still has
the biggest part of my heart. I love to
travel and see new places, and I love the place where I live today, but East
Hampton will always be the place that affects me the most.
It’s about the land, and I recently figured
out that it’s the light (there’s something about it) that draws a person to
create, whether that’s painting, photography, writing or another creative
pursuit. And it’s about the woods and the sea and the village, and it’s about
the quiet time after all the city people leave (they don’t call it Tumbleweed
Tuesday for nothing).
It’s also about the secret places those of us who are from there know about. People may discover them, but they don’t know them the way that we do. They’re spots that aren’t in the tour books, hidden pockets where we spent hours when we were younger and spots to which we return with our kids and their kids. They’re special places you want to tell everyone about….but on the other hand, if everyone knows, maybe they become less special.
That’s one question I want to explore in
the new North of 50 blog: if you could tell someone about the secret places
where you live or where you grew up, the hard-to-find, rarely celebrated
special spots in your world, what would you say? Where would you tell them they had to visit
before they left your part of the world?
Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here.
The new blog.
North of 50 was originally a nod to age and geographic location, and it still is, in a way. And I’ll explain that more thoroughly once I get going. I’m working on a redesign of the logo and I’m still building the new site in the background of the current one. Actually, that’s only sort of true—in both cases: I haven’t worked at all on either this past month, and here we are at the beginning of September and I’ve just come back from Iceland and am lounging with “da goils” (and my mom) on “da guy” (slang for Long Island—you have say it as one word that rolls into itself: long-Guy-land).
Anyway…..when I get back home, and get back to work, here’s my (current) vision for N50:
The site is for and about women of a certain age—no hard number, despite the digits in the name, yet definitely about for and about a more mature audience—not for the Instagrammer, influencer, jet setting picture-perfect person who makes the journey all about themselves, and makes themselves the center of the story. The site will be focused on experiences and offer useful insights for others.
It will be a monthly—kind of like an online
magazine, with news you can use but also stories you’ll enjoy that will bring
the personal dimension of travel into focus. I expect there will be between
6-10 new stories every month.
It’s ultimately about exploring the world. Call it travel if you want, but I think it’s more about discovery–about places, but also about ourselves. I’m planning to set it up based on themes (at least that’s the plan right now); highlighting subjects such as:
What is solo travel; what does it mean to you?
Tours vs. self-planning
Food firsts…or “what’s the hell’son my plate?”
When disaster strikes—how to handle sickness, natural disasters, and bad situations
Defining the exotic; it’s all in your frame of reference
Pets: can’t live without ’em, can’t take ’em with you….or can you?
And of course, destinations. There will always be destinations.
It will be demographically and geographically diverse—stories of people and places all over the world. And there will always be the opportunity to comment and to share experiences and expertise. There will be tough subjects, and controversial ones too….bottom line is, you’ll learn something from each piece.
It will be broken in to sections:
First person: stories of travel: first solo trips, girls’ weekends, the seasoned traveler, off-the-beaten-path journeys, the ups and downs of being on the road, adventures of a lifetime and misadventures (good and bad) never be repeated—in either case. Some difficult topics….and a little about what’s in your backyard that people need to know about (see above).
Tips and tricks: a section to highlight useful info that includes input from experts of two kinds: experts in the their fields, like doctors and travel specialists and outfitters and government-types; and experts who have the first-hand knowledge and insights into places around the world, as seen through the eyes of a mature women traveler. This could be info about travel warning or vaccinations or it could be suggestions on what to pack and what to pack it in….or it could be a tip on a great website or a special place to visit.
Board: a place to connect on a range of topics; a
place to find meet ups and share info, updates to travel warnings,
So this is where you come in:
I’m looking at a December or January launch, and I want to share your stories. One thing I’ve learned is that one person’s stories about themselves is decidedly less interesting than the stories of others.
So if you’ve got a story you’d like to share, send me an email: Northof50info@gmail.com . Tell me, in a few sentences who you are, the place you’ve visited and what you story is. I’ll get back in touch and we’ll build the story from there.
I’d like to get started working on some
stories as I do the other background work.
Right now, my plan is to launch the site December 1st and to
post the first full issue on New Year’s Day.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Editor’s note: I drafted this over the course of the month, bits and pieces here and there, but somehow, my final draft which I finished early this morning, has disappeared. I’ve recreated it as much as i am able, and have vowed to conquer WordPress once and for all, so I don’t lose my material again. Sigh.
There are a few good reasons for this, the title of this essay being one of them.
But here are some other thoughts:
First, there’s usually very little, if any, traffic.
A mausoleum at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Moriches NY
And if there is, it’s usually moving pretty slowly. Because of this, you have the option of doing one of two things: you can stick your headphones into your ears, crank up the music and even sing as loud (and in my case, as badly) as you want. Who’s gonna complain?
Or, you can keep the music in your pocket and listen to the quiet. They’re usually big enough places that you can get away from the access roadway and just listen to the sounds—birds, the wind, perhaps water as it trickles through a fountain. Definitely a great place to get away from the noise.
But I also like to have a look to see who’s there.
Old stone, can’t tell who’s there
This probably started in my home town on the east coast. There’s a cemetery on the village green where there are people buried who were born in the 1500’s! Whoever heard of such a thing?
Later, I had the chance to visit Europe where there are graves and markers much, much older than that. There are big buildings (mostly churches, but other places too) in London and Paris and Rome where many famous people have been laid to rest. People make pilgrimages to see some of the tombs. And I’ll admit it, I’ve done that too…but that’s not the same as being in a cemetery.
Some cemeteries are massive, like the ones in Queens, just outside of Manhattan that seem to go on for miles. Acres and acres of tightly packed plots running along the expressway, clearly on the landing path for one of the nearby airports—not a very quiet spot, and confusing if you don’t know your way around.
Plane coming in over the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Queens
I’ve only gone a few steps into one of those cemeteries once, and wondered how a person would even find someone’s final resting place in a place that huge, but I guess if you’ve been there before and you know what you’re looking for, it’s probably as simple as finding a house you visit often or specific space in a park—you just know where it is.
In Paris, in the late 1700’s, the city’s cemeteries became so overcrowded, six million sets of bones were moved into underground caves created by the mining of the limestone that sits under the city. Today the catacombs are a tourist attraction, and sometimes it worries me that the value of the real estate of these big New York burial grounds–along with others that are maybe not as large but are sitting on prime land–might result in the same sort of planning exercise. How disturbing that would be.
Bottom line is that when I do go walking in cemeteries and burial grounds, I don’t usually stop to look at the gravestones; it seems kind of disrespectful or presumptuous for some reason to walk off the path and into an aisle to read someone’s epitaph and life’s information.
Although you miss some pretty interesting stuff if you don’t take a few minutes to look around.
Like the title of today’s essay. He honored the cabbage. On a random gravestone. What does that even mean? I googled it to see if there was some sort of secret meaning behind the phrase. There isn’t.
She did what she could. What about that one? Was she unwell, or did she have a dozen kids, or an unmanageable husband? What was her situation?
Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs for a .44…no Les, no more. In the Boothill Graveyard in Tombstone, Arizona. Pretty much sums it up. Some other guys you might have heard of are buried there too.
Sometimes it pays to stop and read the stones.
Here lies a minuteman
Down the street from my brother’s house, there’s a small, well-kept graveyard where a for-real American Revolutionary Minuteman is buried. Josiah Smith clearly survived the war, as he died in 1786
I’ve seen the place where George Armstrong Custer fell at the Little Big Horn, which is not technically where his grave is—I just found a site called Find a Grave, and it turns out he is buried at West Point..
About a month ago, I came across a monument to the people who died when TWA flight 800 went down in the Atlantic off
Long Island in 1996 (I know there are other memorials to Flight 800, so I was surprised to find this one tucked into a small local cemetery).
And just like that one, there are others, like the Imagine memorial in Central Park to honor John Lennon, and maybe one of the biggest, the September 11 memorial in New York; again, I’m sure that most of those who were killed are interred elsewhere, but it is nice to have a space to go to remember and reflect.
Which brings me to what I’ve been thinking about.
I just wrote my first last will (you know what I mean) last year (I know, I know—should have had one years ago), and I had to decide what I wanted to happen when I die (aside from leaving my prized headband collection to someone who will want them, as well as all my gold and doubloons).
I have opted to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered, some in the mountains and some at sea. And I don’t want a marker anywhere. So in effect, when I am gone, I will be gone—no trace, no tomb, no tracks.
It’s certainly a personal choice, but I think of how very infrequently I visit my own father’s grave (and how sad it makes me to see the unkempt grounds where his ashes are buried)…and I’ve never seen my grandparents that I can recall; in fact, now that I think about it, I’m not even sure where some of them are buried.
And I bet a lot of other people have been moving in this same direction.
But think about what that means…it’s not so much about being able to physically find the place where a person has been buried—it’s more about the memory of what they have done in their lives, whether it’s paying tribute to a vegetable or making us laugh or getting us to stop and think about how they–or the way they died–changed the world.
I’m not changing my mind about what happens to me. It’s just occurred to me that, while it may take a long time, the idea of the traditional burial ground may be slowly changing. We may need to think about how we will remember those who have left us and how they contributed to us personally.
Maybe I’m wrong, but just in case I’m not, I think I’ll continue to take my walks in these quiet places. But now I may just think a little more closely about who’s there.
Earlier this week I sat down to dinner with some of the people who know me best.
Some are married, some divorced, and others never married; some are gay and some are straight; some have kids while others don’t; and some are well-physically and/or financially, and some are struggling.
Sometimes, way before the weekend comes, I know what I want to write about. I plan it out—sometimes to match up with specific holidays and other times to avoid doing anything offensive on those days. (April Fool’s and Easter was a tough one this year, since it fell on the same day.)
I always knew her as “little Chrissy”. She lived across the street from me growing up, but we were too far apart in age to ever play together. By the time she was in elementary school, I was focused on my learner’s permit. And boys. And who all knows what else.
So…the other day, the subject of binge watching TV shows came up.
We were in an all –day training seminar and on break and someone started talking about series and the art of the binge watch. It came up because I mentioned that I keep seeing these really dark promos for the series Riverdale on my iPad….isn’t there where Archie and the gang lived? What the hell happened to them??