60 to Zero

When I met my husband, my screen name was HiTechLuvr.

(His was UpInBoogieDown, a Brooklyn boy living in the Bronx.)

I love gadgets and gizmos, Popular Science and Engadget.com, and once had my letter to the editor published in WIRED. Yet, I crave the return to primitive nature all the time. Until I got married, I think, I’d always been on the verge of uprooting my life completely and resettling in a remote village in the mountains, a la Peace Corps—but, I caved to social pressure, or Jewish guilt, or “common” sense that said, “you didn’t earn a master’s degree to go bushwhacking.”

I love the feel of my machete in my hand. That’s right, my machete. I pull it out at parties and chop coconuts with it, to loud applause from tipsy guests. I remember the putrid smell of cacao drying under plastic tarps in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and still dream of the shrill cry of howler monkeys that sent me running back to camp after I’d wandered off the trail and ended up in a grove of trees that looked like a jungle hall of mirrors. (I took Lariam for 17 weeks, which brought on occasional, awesome delirium. Do you know of Lariam fits? If so, please comment.)

And I like makeup. I do my nails. I used to spend hundreds on highlights and fifties on foie gras—until I wised up, slowed down, chilled out, and tuned in to what’s important.

Now I value experiences above and beyond things. Best gift my husband ever treated me to? A balloon ride over the Catskills. We’ve also been up in a glider plane together. Unforgettable, life-changing experiences. Don’t think these experiences change your life? The visuals, alone, are enough to stretch your mind so it will never shrink back. I swear!

The first time I ever looked through a telescope, in Sedona, at the moon and then at Saturn, I was permanently changed as a human being. I’d seen closeups of the moon and Saturn in books, but, when I saw the rings of Saturn with my very own eyes through the telescope, I was elated. I felt it was a true gift that broadened my awareness, and deepened my familiarity with the sky. Saturn changed from a fictional character to a real entity in my space. The far reaches of what I was in touch with grew.

Did I go on to study astronomy? No. Did I buy a telescope? No. Can I keep every candle burning that gets ignited in my spirit? I’m so excitable, I think not.

However, I am on the list for Amateur  Astronomers of New York, and occasionally take part in special viewing parties. Columbia U sometimes opens their observatory and it’s impressive.


Check out Open Nights: http://neighbors.columbia.edu/pages/programsandservices/educational_programs/reaching_stars.html

Anyway, as I was saying, I’m full of divergent interests. After I came home from Nicaragua, I guess it wasn’t long before I showed signs of materialism, as a reflection and integration of the culture I was steeped in, in Chicago. My dad said to me, “Michelle, I don’t get it. You lived without hot water for 8 months, and now you want a _________?” (insert item a 20-something might have coveted in 1999). He said, “You’re a chameleon. You change to match your surroundings”—which was a critique—he values staunch consistency of character. He doesn’t flex from his position under many circumstances. I won’t say “stuck in his ways,” because he does try new things, like working out with a personal trainer; let’s say… hardheaded.

But I digress again. I’ll put it to you: Do you embody contrasting desires and embrace competing ideas? Are you comfortable going “from casual to dressy,” or do you prefer one way, one flavor, one favorite dish, one pair of shoes, and one opinion—your own?

I want to hear from you while I’m away. The theater at Mommy Theorist will be dark March 7th to March 15th while my husband and I take our first vacation alone together since who-knows-when, and our first vacation as a family of three. Vacation, in my definition, does not involve extended mishpacha. It also TYPICALLY does not involve phones, televisions, or computers, but (sigh) it’s getting harder to disconnect and you know what? Maybe I like being wired, now that my whole social life is online.

I am going to try a digital diet. I hope you’ll honor that, and allow me to pick up where we left off after a week or so hiatus.

How long will it take a fast car like me to decelerate from 60 to zero and achieve complete relaxation?

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About MommyTheorist

Editor, writer, photographer, and new mom
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3 Responses to 60 to Zero

  1. donna zapin says:

    My dreams are filled with return trips to costa rican rainforests… Twice just wasn’t enough. Next time we are taking the kids

  2. Lee Kottner says:

    I’m not as adaptable as you are, but I like new experiences, and I’m willing to take the rough with the smooth. Some parts of my trip to China were, if not outright primitive, then definitely on the third world spectrum. The older I get, the less “rugged” I like my vacations. But that doesn’t exclude new experiences. And in some ways, I’ve gotten bolder. 25 years ago, I would not have gone alone to a country where I didn’t speak the language. Now, I’d go in a heartbeat–and did go to Spain by myself with only Spanglish under my belt. But I’m not as physically tough as I used to be either, so that’s become a consideration, darn it.

    And there are nights when my dreams are filled with the places I’ve been too, as well as that souk I’ve been looking for since I was a kid.

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