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
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??