Top Ten Fictional Places

I stole the following idea from Alexander Field who is new on my blog radar. Of course, he borrowed the concept from someone else who likely borrowed it from yet another person and, well, you get the idea. But, it is right up my “hip geek chic” alley. I must admit, however, that I thought compiling my own list would progress rather quickly and without much fanfare. I was wrong. I have added, deleted, reordered and generally toiled over this little project for several days now. All of that after mentally attempting to compile my list prior to scribbling down my choices. The result? Further proof of my charming nerdiness.

“A setting, deftly portrayed, not only tells us where we are but gives the story a sense of truth, the credibility we speak of as verisimilitude.” ~John Leggett

Please take a journey with me now to The Top Ten Fictional Places I’d Like to Visit:

10. The Home of Mr. Tumnus
Ah, Narnia. I am charmed by the cave where Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, resides. “Lucy thought she had never been in a nicer place. It was a little, dry, clean cave of reddish stone with a carpet on the floor and two little chairs (“one for me and one for a friend,” said Mr. Tumnus) and a table and a dresser and a mantelpiece over the fire and above that a picture of an old Faun with a gray beard. In one corner there was a door which Lucy thought must lead to Mr. Tumnus’s bedroom, and on one wall was a shelf full of books (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe).” I want to sit by the fire, browse through his books, have some tea and listen to tales of the forest of Narnia.

9. Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory 

There is a river... of chocolate.
Any questions?
(Psssst. Beware of the squirrels.)
(PS - I kinda sorta hate this movie version.)

8. The Place Where The Wild Things Are
I have a Wild Thing. He is stuffed, stands about three inches tall and lives on my desk. I can glance at him in the middle of a hectic work day and, if only for a moment, sail “off through night and day, and in and out of weeks, and almost over a year to where the wild things are.” Maurice Sendak is one of my literary heroes and Where The Wild Things Are was my favorite childhood book. It is flawless. And, now, courtesy of Spike Jonze and Warner Brothers I will get to see it come to life. (Update: Hated that movie.)

7. Tatooine
Surprised? You shouldn't be.

With my penchant for warm weather (okay... hot) and awesome sunsets,
it should come as no shock that his would be my number one pick from Star Wars lore.
Not to mention, I find deserts to be stunningly beautiful. I could do without
Jabba's Palace, of course; but, no planet is perfect, right?

It seems to me that I could manage a pretty awesome tan, check out the pod
races at Mos Espa, buy myself my very own R2 unite from the Jawas, groove to some awesome intergalactic tunes at Mos Eisley Cantina and then (and this is the best part) find a perch and soak up the absolute brilliance of a dual sunset.


6. Wonderland
“We’re all mad here,” sayeth The Cheshire Cat. That’s reason enough for me. Of course, my mental image of the fantasy land where Lewis Carroll sent Alice doesn’t come remotely close to resembling the most popular rendition created by Disney. I picture it far more … twisted; hence, the madness. Not to mention, I’m always game for a really far out tea party.

[Oh! Have you heard? Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and a myriad of absolutely awesome actors will be bringing Alice in Wonderland to the big screen in 2010. Bloody brilliant!] (Update: I hated this movie too.)

5. The Island
There is no choice between “to visit” or “not to visit” The Island from LOST. If I had the chance and I could actually manage to find it without being on a doomed aircraft … I would go. The monumental choice is: When? What year exactly? (This will make sense to you fellow Losties.) I find Dharmaville (circa 1977) to be a rather intriguing place. I could also have an absolute blast in 2004 trudging through the jungle to individual Dharma stations and watching all the orientation videos. Maybe I’ll take two robots with me. Those films are begging for the MST3K treatment. I would also take the time to circumnavigate that sucker.

4. Massec Feur
Go ahead. Google it. I’ll wait. Didn’t find it, did you? (Or, you might have ... with a link to this blog!) It is a fictional place. I promise. You see, I just made it up. I had to find one teeny tiny way to cheat and this is it. “Massec Feur” is an acronym and a pretty damn fine one, if I do say so myself … and I do. It stands for: Most Amazing Space Station Ever Created For Entirely Useless Reasons. Why is it so awesome? Massec Feur transcends time and galaxies and fictional universes. It is a central gathering point for spaceships from all fantasy worlds and, in my mind, it is well utilized. Eventually, all our favorite ships make port here. One vacation to Massec Feur will allow me the opportunity to tour the U.S.S. Enterprise (Star Trek), Serenity (Firefly), Battlestar Galactica, Millennium Falcon (Star Wars), Searcher (Buck Rogers), and Heart of Gold (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). Groovy, huh? Admit it. You want to come too.

3. Rivendell, The Refuge of the Elves

I vowed to only include one location from Tolkien's Middle Earth
on this list and the decision was not an easy one. But, in the words
of Sam Gamgee: "... we've been far and seen a deal, and yet I don't
think we've found a better place than this. There's something of
everything here, if you understand me: the Shire and the Golden Wood
and Gondor and kings' houses and inns and meadows and mountains all
mixed (The Return of the King)."
Indeed. The elves would never let me
in but I would search for that winding path and I would find my own way.
Could there be a more beautiful place to rest?
I would take refuge there at this very moment were it possible. 

2. Hogwarts 
I went to boarding school and I loved it. I would have loved Hogwarts more. I can guarantee you the food is better, the dorms are cooler, and the school subjects are far more interesting. Not to mention, I did not go to school in a sprawling castle with hidden passageways and moving staircases and enchanted ceilings and ghosts and house-elves and an owlery and interactive art … all in Scotland with its very own loch!! Oh, and the piece de resistance: QUIDDITCH!!!!

1. Avalon... and Camelot 
Sue me. I couldn’t pick between the two. I’m quite sure my love of all things Arthurian began with Disney’s ‘The Sword and the Stone’ (1963). It wasn’t long before I discovered books on the subject. I read Mary Stewart’s The Crystal Cave somewhere around the age of ten. Actually, I didn’t merely read it. I devoured it and the rest of the series. That was the beginning of the mania. Movies, books, online articles, History Channel specials … I love them all. I am quite enamored with King Arthur and his knights. I sit in my living room as I type this and I can see six different series or individual books on this subject from my couch. I’m going to shut up now before this paragraph turns into a thesis.

And, I am done. I know that I technically listed more than ten, but this is my list and I reserve the right to warp things as I see fit. In fact, I am still so torn over some decisions that I bring you those that came close. Some of them were even on this list at some point.

Honorable Mentions: Robin Hood’s Hideout in Sherwood Forest, Fraggle Rock, Gilder, Wayne Manor, Landover, Hyrule, Vulcan, Neverland, Edoras, & Atlantis. If none of those places are familiar to you, feel free to look them up.

What about you? Is there a list of fictional places you would thoroughly enjoy visiting?

They Shower Naked Too

I do not get star struck by celebrity. Strike that. Rephrase. I have yet to get star struck by celebrity. There is, perhaps, a famous or well-known individual on this planet that could render me speechless should we come face-to-face. I can’t think of anyone at the moment worthy of eliciting such a reaction, but it could happen. Not likely, mind you. I simply don’t put that much stock in fame.

There was no defining moment in my life where I decided not to act like a total loon when confronted by celebrity. I mean, they shower naked too … just like me. They just have much cooler jobs. Why in the world would I want to make a total ass out of myself by jumping up and down and squealing, “Oh my God!! You are so-and-so! I absolutely LOVE you!” First of all: I don’t jump up and down for anyone. Secondly: I don’t squeal. Ever. Thirdly: Celebrities already know who they are. The endless “you are so-and-so” reminder from rabid fans has got to get exhausting.

There is also the humbling reminder, should I meet a celebrity and even interact with said individual, that he/she will likely have no memory of me the next day.

“What is fame? The advantage of being known by people of whom you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.” ~Lord Byron

I like me, but I am just not that memorable. Why is it we remember them?

Stephanie Powers was my first celebrity sighting. No surprise. She waltzed into a well-known Nairobi dining spot while I was having dinner with my family. My reaction was something akin to, “Oh, well, look at that. It’s about time.” Stephanie spends a large portion of her time living in Kenya as she is highly involved with The William Holden Wildlife Foundation. The odds were quite favorable that I would see her one day. Now that I think about it, I would enjoy having tea with her.

I was hanging out at the British Airways Executive Club in Heathrow Airport once … I wasn’t supposed to be there but I have a knack for talking my way into places I don’t necessarily belong. I even managed to con British Airways into adding a complimentary hotel stay to my ticket (on a separate excursion) when my layover was excessively long. It’s a gift, but I digress. There I was in the airport lounge, drinking my coffee and perusing my reading material when
Telly Savalas walked in. My reaction (said in my brain to myself), “You really are one bald dude!” At some point we topped off our coffee simultaneously. He said, “Hello!” I said, “Hello!” Strangely enough, we actually boarded the same flight … in very different classes. Him? First. Me? Coach.

It would seem that airports are a fine place for meeting people. I spotted
Bill Nye the Science Guy in the Richmond, Virginia airport. He was alone with no one else about which is probably a testament to my total geekiness in being able to identify the man. But, in my defense, Big K was in Kindergarten at the time and absolutely loved Bill’s television show. SO … being the good parent, I approached and asked for an autograph for my child (which he still has eight years later). He obliged. We stood and chatted while waiting for our luggage. Mine arrived first and off I went.

I saw
Sandra Bullock once while she was filming a scene for the don’t-bother-to-ever-see-it-movie Premonition. I was on a business trip and we (my coworker and me) had heard via the talkative front desk personnel at the hotel that she was in town. I actually got to see her filming the same seen at least three times because, at the mercy of my Sandra Bullock obsessed “I’ve never seen a celebrity” coworker, we circled the block thrice … just to get another look. She was driving and I was trapped in the vehicle. That’s ten minutes of my life full of, “Oooh! There she is again!” comments that are lost forever.

And then, in one fell swoop, I met
Paul Rudd, Dash Mihok, this guy, and several other “I know I’ve seen you in a lot of random movie bit parts but I have no idea what your name is” pseudo celebrities. They were staying in my hotel or simply hanging out in the lobby. Whatever. It was 2008 and we bonded over the fantastic (into overtime) NFC Championship game between the New York Giants (23) and the Green Bay Packers (20). I was the only person in the hotel bar hoping for a Green Bay win (as the Giants had stomped on my Cowboys the week before and I was still bitter) and I took a lot of abuse from those celebrity boys. A lot, but it was all in good fun. Throughout the night girls came and went requesting autographs and pictures. I have none of that stuff. I was content to not buy my own drinks and shoot the breeze during commercials.

Impressions? Paul Rudd is a nice guy. Short, but nice. Dash Mihok is a bona fide arrogant a-hole, but I do remember his name now as opposed to referring to him as “Benvolio” forevermore. The real riot of the evening was “this guy” whose name is Glenn Plummer. He is a genuinely awesome person and I am glad I no longer have to refer to him as “the jaguar dude from ‘Speed’” or “the homeless dude with the dog from ‘The Day After Tomorrow.’” Do you think any of them remember me? Probably not. You know what? I’m okay with that. I have other nights from other places with other no-name people that are just as fresh in my memory. The celebrities did not make the night memorable. The events did.

There are a few more, but none of them a good story make. What about you? Anyone on this planet you would go absolutely gaga to meet? Or, more interestingly, have you already made a fool of yourself when faced with the famous? Do tell!

Paint By Numbers

"Painting is just another way of keeping a diary." ~Pablo Picasso

These words are a self portrait. Each blog post is another brush stroke applied to the canvas of me. Art is subjective. And, like art, the picture I paint of myself appears quite differently to each of my readers. How about a little ‘paint by numbers’ exercise? The subject: Me. I’ve given you the numbers and the colors along with a tidbit about myself that corresponds directly to each number. I’ll let you do the painting. What sort of artist are you? Will you follow my instructions or, after reading my blurbs, will you break out of the box … color outside the lines … and create a picture of me that is bizarre and unique by changing the colors or the shades in your own mind? That is the beauty of art.

0: Number of pregnancies in my future. I love my crazy dudes, but I am done. Finished. It would, believe you me, take a bona fide miracle.
0 = Blue (Both my children are boys.)

1: Marriage. 1: Divorce.
1 = Orange (I have a general dislike for this color.)

2: Countries in which I have lived. Yes, only two: Kenya & The United States. I must confess. I am not a very good American.
2 = Grey (It’s a shade. A mix.)

3: Number of real, live plants in my apartment that I’ve managed to not kill for over a year now! This, my dear friends, is a major accomplishment.
3 = Brown (As in … my thumb.)

4: Once, in 1997, I ran over this many squirrels with my car … in the same day. Truthfully, I hit them all in one drive across town (between apartment and campus) and it is a really, really small town. I refer to this phenomenon as “Suicide Squirrel Day” (may their poor little bodies rest in peace). I haven’t hit a squirrel since.
4 = Red (Um, yeah, that indicates the blood on my hands for such an atrocity.)

5: Number of years I went to this totally awesome boarding school on the escarpment of the Great Rift Valley (Grades 7-9 and 11-12).
5 = White (One of the school colors.)

6: Number of ‘The Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ (2) and bard related (4) books that inhabit one shelf in my home.
6 = Purple (In honor of The Royal Shakespeare Company.)

7: Pairs of black shoes that I own. Trust me, this is minimal compared to many a woman. I simply wear a lot of black … therefore, black shoes dominate.
7 = Black (Quite obvious, that one.)

8: Years that Little K, my youngest, has been on this planet. Doing the math, this means I will only be 43 when he graduates from high school. Groooovy!
8 = Yellow (This is a happy color, right?)

9: Number of Earth globes I can see from where I am currently sitting … on my couch.
9 = Turquoise (For the oceans that cover the bulk of this orb.)

10: I’ve had this many jobs: photographer, waitress, hotel night auditor, bookkeeper, travel agent, collections agent, concierge, bank teller, assistant director of a non-profit agency & resort group sales associate.
10 = Green (Money … well, USD … is green.)

So … what sort of portrait did you create? Realistic? Abstract? Modern? Part of me wishes I could see your paintings. But, mostly I am quite content with the not knowing. I would hope that each and every one is unique and that is enough for me.

I shook it up a lot, but my inspiration for this post came from Finn. Thank you!!


Fancy word, that. Lamentations. Forget for a moment that Lamentations is a book of the Old Testament and recognize the English meaning for what it is: Regret.

“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” ~Sidney Smith, English Clergyman

I know. I know. Live in the present. Plan for the future. Leave the past in the past. Don’t regret anything. Right. Okay. Not so easy. I can not tell a lie. There are many a thing that I have come to lament over the years. Healthy? Probably not. But, I have found that identifying these regrets, frivolous and weighty, does draw me closer to some sort of healing. Honestly, I could probably benefit greatly from regular visits to a shrink … someone to whom I could vent about all my crap in an effort to “put it out there” and get it out of my head. Alas! Therapy is not in my budget. The result? You lucky people get to read about it all here!

  • Kilimanjaro. I should have climbed it while I had the chance, but … no. The depths of the ocean beckoned to me and I chose to get my scuba diving license instead. I don’t regret the scuba (even though I would have to recertify because I haven’t been on a dive in years), but I do regret not climbing Kili. There is still hope for that, I guess. I can hear my knees protesting quite vehemently at that thought.

  • Spandex. It would have been nice (circa 1990-1994) to have been aware of the fact that I was prancing around with an absolutely smokin’ athletic body. Clueless. Truly. I was. I should have utilized those … um, ASSets more efficiently and donned a hell of a lot more spandex while I had the chance.

  • There were a few “Aha!” moments along the warped path of my life that I shamelessly ignored. Hence, the warping. Ditto for refusing to listen to that inner voice screaming, “What the bloody hell do you think you are doing?”

  • I should have become an Egyptologist. As it stands, my obsession with said culture makes no sense.

  • There were two relationships prior to my failed marriage that deserved (yes, deserved) to have been pursued more openly and with total honesty. I wish the old me had been as bold as I am now. Those relationships would likely still have ended (maybe, possibly) but the method in which they came to a close could have left me with a lot fewer “what ifs” in life.

  • I regret not becoming fluent in Swahili while living in Kenya.

  • I haven’t graduated from university and it has been 11 years since I was in a collegiate classroom. I sacrifice enough, being a single working mother, as it is. I can’t fathom trying to finish school right now … emotionally, physically, financially.

  • Speaking of university … I should have pushed to attend a different one instead of acquiescing to the parental assumption that I wanted to attend the school where I ultimately landed.

  • Have you ever wanted a total do over? Mine? Summer, 1994.

  • I should have become a flight attendant. I absolutely, positively aced a mock interview with a senior flight attendant during some sort of career orientation something-or-other in high school. She encouraged me to pursue it. I didn’t. It would have suited me quite well. [sigh]

  • Photographs. I should have taken more.

  • I left a job once that I loved. I was good at it. I made great money. I adored the company. I was in a city that I had grown to love. I left. It would appear, hindsight being 20/20 and all that jazz, that the reasoning behind that decision was not quite as wise as once thought. Desperate? Yes. The right thing? Ahhh … who knows?

  • Twitter. Dude, I should have jumped on that bandwagon sooner.

    And, finally, for now …

  • I have always been a bit forward. I am, now, much more blunt and brutally honest than I was in the past … a trait, though sometimes seemingly harsh, I wish I had adopted somewhere around the age of twelve.

[Do I hear crickets chirping?]
I don’t know. Perhaps I really do need a therapist.

“With memory set smarting like a reopened wound, a man's past is not simply a dead history, an outworn preparation of the present: it is not a repented error shaken loose from the life: it is a still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders and bitter flavors and the tinglings of a merited shame.” ~George Eliot, Middlemarch


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