Table Topic Tuesday. 12/10.

Happy Tuesday! It’s Table Topic time.

I let Lindsay choose this week. She picked a doozy (smart girl). You ready?

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD?

My answers are valid today only. I’ll be wondering about new wonders tomorrow.

Here are my seven.

1. THE ELF ON THE SHELF

This footless, frozen-faced sprite freaks me out a little bit. I mean, let’s call him what he is. He’s a spy. A bribing spy. And there are entire Pinterest pages and blogs and sites encouraging this mischief.  We’re drinking the eggnog, too. The boys love our Adam Winston Adams. So far this season, he’s wrapped an entire toilet in Christmas paper, gone fishing for goldfish in the sink and taunted me with unblinking, plastic eyes to one-up yesterday’s stunt. I kinda want to send him to tinsel oblivion. Can I get a witness?

elf

2. MACHU PICCHU

The most haunting corner of the universe I’ve ever seen.

3. LEFTOVERS

Does this sound like a let down after Machu Picchu? Well, on a day when you had a banana for breakfast on the way to the office and you work straight through lunch and don’t realize it until 4pm, you come home to find that you have enough leftovers to feed all of you for dinner? Like, dinner’s done. You just have to heat it up.

Boo-yaka-sha.

4. SEX

(And I’ll just leave that one right there.)

5. SALTED CARAMEL

It’s salty. It’s sweet. Crunchy. Gooey. It’s everything.

6. WALT DISNEY WORLD

Where else can you walk around the world in an afternoon, ride a safari, ride a monorail, eat a turkey leg, eat a dole whip, see fireworks and every matching T-shirt ever made? Where else can you take a seat in the dueling piano bar, a pool bar, on a roller coaster, at a show or by a Swan? Where else can you complete the ultimate Grand Slam? You can bike, you can boat, you can fly. The music, the detail, the magic. The spell of the place is real.

Disney Digression
Disney Digression

7. LOVE

Love that has a work dinner and stops on the way home to get you a chestnut coffee—the kind you would never get because of calories and pennies—the kind you love the most.

Love that sees you come in the door and drops everything to run towards you, full-speed, arms wailing, towards you.

Love that finds your hand before putting one toe on the parking lot asphalt.

Love that always pulls the sun up each morning. The Love that lights the way. Wonder-full.

Lindsay says:

Seven wonders? I wonder about a lot of things. Here are some that break the top ten.

1. Two “Us” in the word Vacuum. It’s not right, it’s downright confusing, and it’s the reason I was ousted from round one in the third grade spelling bee. It still hurts.
2. Spinners on a ’91 Impala. No.
3. Unsubscribe confirmation emails. Thanks for reminding me I don’t ever want to receive emails from you again. Again.
4. Kids on leashes. Pay attention to and love your children? Or, rope them up like bomb-sniffing K-9s?
5. Drivers that leave their blinker on for 15 miles after switching lanes. Are you going to make use of the shoulder in a little bit or are you purposefully taunting me? I might seizure right there at 10 and 2.
6. English tutoring flyers with spelling errors. Let’s pretend like I didn’t do this once. Or twice.
7. Phone calls on speakerphone. In public. The best use of a cell phone for these people is in off mode, buried in a pocket, never to be turned on, ever.
Lindsey says:
1) Cinderella’s castle
2) Common sense. I wonder every day if it exists.
3) Akashi kaikyo bridge in Japan. Scary stuff.
4) The Grand Canyon
5) The Chanel tunnel (Chunnel)
6) The Great Pyramids
7) The Internet
And Javi says:

The Seven Wonders of the World are an ever-evolving list of amazing feats of man. Even with all of our technology, knowledge, study, and documented history, man still struggles to explain how many of these wonders in fact came to be or what there original purpose was.  They are as follows.

  1. Every John Mayer Album

It’s the same album every time, right? Has someone been smashing crazy pills into my pop tarts in the morning? It’s the same song over and over on every album! Every song is barely audible guitar and the creepy whisper of John Mayer saying things about your body being compared to ferris wheels or something. The fact that a man can consistently dupe the world into somehow buying the same thing over and over and believing it is something different is amazing. It’s crazy. It’s baffling. I don’t understand it. Scientists who have spent their whole careers studying auditory effects on the human brain don’t understand it. I mean, play two John Mayer songs right now. Do it. It’s the SAME SONG! He’s like some kind of whispery warlock. A WONDEROUS whispery warlock… with a touch of creepster … but none the less A WONDEROUS whispery warlock.

  1. Wyoming

It doesn’t exist. Have you ever been to Wyoming? Have you ever met anyone from Wyoming? Have you even heard of a news story out of Wyoming? No, you haven’t. Because it is not there. Wyoming is Native American for “empty land”, or “wendigo valley”. Some of you might rebuttal with statements you feel in your heart are compelling arguments like “I drove through there” or “I’ve been to a ranch there.” False. You’ve been lied to. You were in Montana. Maybe, Nebraska. Wyoming is not a place. It is a square. Look at it! It is a perfect square. That’s not a state. It is just a shape. A WONDEROUS shape.

  1. Candy Corn

All candy corn was made in 1956. All of it. Every kernel of corn. Candy corn is made of equal parts orange candle wax, melted mannequins from the 40’s, and a touch of broken dreams of children to add the flavor of something that tastes sweet, yet horribly sad and inedible. After candy corn is bought it is traditionally displayed in pastel porcelain dishes in the most depressing environments imaginable – a doctor’s waiting room, that dusty table in your office building that so few people use you would think it was freaking haunted, or a DMV window. The pastel dish helps trap in the surrounding sadness, and harness it to the candy corn to preserve it for the following years distribution. Nothing is a better natural preservative than sadness. After a few months, the candy corn is collected by candy corn associates in the shroud of darkness, and repackaged for the following year.

  1. Stonehenge

Possibly the biggest and most famous henge ever. It is a henge among henges. The bar that all other henges must compare themselves. And, the main reason Stonehenge has earned it’s rightful place on this list is because of the deep mystery surrounding it – often inspiring soul defining questions raised when people visit and stand in its majestic hengy presence. Questions heard time and time again by those who come and visit the henge year after year. Questions like, “Dude, does this place make your brain just go (explosion noise)… or what?” or “What button do I press on this camera… seriously I feel like I’m disarming a bomb?” or “Why did your father take us here?” and “I bet these people were ‘Stoned-henge’, get it?”

  1. Bounce Houses

Do you know what goes on in bounce houses? The bending of all things known in thermodynamics. Know these facts: It is almost impossible to follow the movements of a 3- to 4-year-old. Now give them the gift of partial flight! Plus, kids that age have this innate ability to increase their own gravity ten fold when they do that thing where their bodies go limp, and picking them up is more difficult than trying to hoist an oiled bar of gold. If we, as a species, could harness the power of a room filled with flying children, crashing against each other with the weight of a thousand suns we could solve the energy crisis. Bounce houses are like the Hadron Collider, but made of children. So much danger. So much wonder.

6. Miley Cyrus’ Tongue
Where’s it going? What’s it doing? Did you see what it did there? Oh jeeze, no please don’t do tha – GROSS! Why can’t I stop looking? Eeewwww, look! If I cover my eyes will you just give me a play by play of what it is doing? Ugh. It’s doing it again! It’s still doing it? Make it stop! No! NO! I’m not looking anymore. Someone keep an eye on it. What do you mean it disappeared? Oh god no. Is it gone? It’s GONE?! Are we safe? Seriously, did someone see where it went? I don’t want make any sudden moves until we know it is for sure gone. I think it was pointing me out… I think it might know where I live. What if it shows up at my door, you guys? C’mon, that’s not funny! Alright, fine. I’ll relax. But, just please keep an eye out for – AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

  1. The Internet

Rushing you info like a beer bong for your brain, the Internet is our teacher, mother, friend and lover. It does nothing but give. We choose what to receive and, in turn, give back. The relationship you build there, cradled in its cyber arms, is of your own doing. It is at fault for nothing. It merely provides us all entry into something greater. All that has been, could be, and will be. It is pure. And, when I send these words off into the ether, and sully the wonder of the Internet with their inane constitution, and someone stumbles upon them, and in turn, becomes less of a person for doing so, the Internet allows me to give a pre-emptive apology. I’m sorry.

Okay. Your Seven Wonders. Go.

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The Peru Chronicles

Last week, I told y’all about my travel journals. I like to write on the road. This started back in college when I traveled to South America. So, now that it’s fresh on my brain, I thought I’d share a little from my very first Detour Diary.

Across the pond, my girlfriends were drinking in the culture with a few chummy Brits in A Friend At Hand—a celebrated local pub. Downstream, I was unearthing the roots of Perú, sniffing bits of tree bark with a shaman and the inhospitable mosquitoes of the Amazon.

An Interim month between semesters at Wofford College gave us a chance to study abroad for four weeks. My closest friends chose a tour of Europe. Me? I picked Perú.

I was ready to ink my passport. Ready for newness. Ready to go. So I emptied my savings, packed my suitcase and went far away to get close to something I couldn’t name.

Before that trip, my inner outdoor girl had romantic musings about being face-to-face with nature.

Disney Digression
Disney Digression

That was before I flew down a zip line. That month in Perú was a month of firsts, all documented in handwritten notes. I wrote about my first fishing excursion, a hunt for piranha in the Amazon. In a homemade canoe, we baited a tree limb with fatty, raw chicken. When I felt a definite tug, I jerked the pole out of the water and the flesh-eating fish flew over the boat in an arc, nearly knocking a fellow student over. So, I flung it over again and almost knocked our guide, Victor, out. While the fish was flying above us, Victor (and our boat) shook with giggles. To validate my spasticness, I said in Spanish (what I thought was) that the fish back home don’t have teeth. What I really said was that the fishermen back in the States don’t have teeth. Victor laughed like heck.

I wrote about my first camping expedition—an overnight stay in the rainforest in a leaky tent where our guide gave me something like a Tarot card reading. “Love,” she said. “I see a lot of love.”

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

I wrote about my first mountain climb. When we reached the Sun Gate, breathless from the thin air and exhaustion and wonder, a rainbow met us at the top. It reached over Machu Picchu, sleeping below, and in a still second I felt the presence of every soul who had walked the path before me. None of our pictures captured the pure hues of the moment, but that rainbow felt hand placed to congratulate us.

Sun Gate
Sun Gate

It was a three-hour cruise across Lake Titicaca from Puno to Amantani Island where our group split up and stayed with native families. Two of us were assigned to Norma, a girl our age or younger. She didn’t speak to us at first as she led us to her home unless she was motioning for us to come. We navigated the treacherous stone path slowly, passed pigpens and a woman tending sheep. Flimsy Spanish was our only form of communication. But more was gained than lost in translation when Norma introduced us to her fatherless newborn daughter. She wrapped the baby in multiple blankets and slung her onto her back, freeing her hands to make us dinner. I remembered Norma years later the first time I tried to swaddle the fierce-flailing limbs of my infant son.

brand new Tucker

I’ve re-lived my Interim to Perú so many times through those journals—a time I wrote for me, wrote my life, wrote to discover.

When I have an assignment, I sit at my computer surveying the possibilities in the letters under my fingers, selecting words like you choose an apple at the grocery store. I pick them up, rotate them in my hand, scanning for bruises, imperfections. I’m writing for someone else—for clients, for creative directors, for praise—delivering a bundle of pretty words. Sometimes, I hear a stranger’s voice offering me slick apples. But in my travel journals, I detail the most basic human things. It’s me talking. My voice is in the discolored, banged up apple. And there I am, honest and vulnerable, in that brown spot.

I emailed bits from my journals to my roommate, communicating across continents through Internet cafes. She was bringing home an Italian leather purse, photos of the Louvre, chocolate. I was bringing home an alpaca sweater, a few new freckles and a handmade doll.

The doll has lost its smell now, but if you press your nose into the black yarn hair, you can almost smell Perú —new mornings in the Andes, warm incense in the one-room adobe brick homes, centuries-old springs plashing over mossy stones, mist you can taste.

I bought her in a valley of the velvet-green mountains where the villagers peddled their crafts. One small one caught my eye and she scrunched her nose at me as if we shared a fun secret. I motioned to the doll she cradled like a baby and found the Spanish to ask her how much.

“Quince solace,” she whispered, tracing a circle in the earth with a bare toe. “O dulces.” Money or candy. After she gave me the doll, she reached above her head, pink palms open for payment. I recognized the empty, upturned palms—starving for something smooth, sweet. Something.

I didn’t find a something in Perú. Fumbling through so-called Spanish, I became a teeny more fluent in humanity. I found, in a world away, a familiar seeking, searching—a shared need for something more.

Towards the end of our trip, after a week in the Amazon, I remember us running like children through the streets of Iquitos to the store. There, we held our hands open, palms up, for the cups of native ice cream, cool on our tongues after the sting of rainforest juices.