C. A. Pack

Musings & Brainstorms & Rants

June 2012

Flash Fiction: Eternity

I’ve always wanted to try my hand at flash fiction, but wasn’t sure I could keep my story under one hundred words. This is my first try and I wanted to share it:

          Lara and Max had not seen each other since before the war. They had gone their separate ways when they were deployed, but now that the war was over, Lara had returned to the fields where they had played together as children.
          She looked up to see Max running across the field. “Max, No!” But it was too late. The war had invaded a space they once believed sacrosanct. Max learned it was a mine field before Lara could warn him. His childhood wish to spend eternity in this place with its wonderful memories had unfortunately come true.

NYT: Beyond-the-Grid

I saw the following story in the Real Estate section of the New York Times this weekend, and I want to reblog it, so I don’t forget it. It’s about the little out-of-the-way streets in Manhattan that make up tiny communities that seem far, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You may need to be a NYT subscriber to see the multimedia presentation that includes Pomander Walk, Rutherford Place, Beekman Place, Stuyvesant Street, and Cherokee Place, but if you can access it, it’s fun to learn about them. What follows is the main article from the NYT:

THE vast majority of Manhattan residents live on streets that seem to run forever. Twenty-third Street clocks in at about two miles, Second Avenue at nearly seven. Thanks to Manhattan’s grid plan, which is celebrating its bicentennial with an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, the bulk of the island is laid out in rigid checkerboard fashion.

Interactive Feature
Five Small Communities Within Manhattan

But for a few fortunate people, there is another Manhattan, a handful of short streets that run for just a block, or two or three at the most. Their histories are invariably rich — some were born as driveways for large gated estates — and their charms quickly reveal themselves to both residents and visitors.
Such streets are typically lined with trees and exquisite old buildings, and often adjacent to parks. Many are designated as historic districts. Being off the beaten track and sometimes gated, they tend to be unusually safe. Many have adorable names, like Patchin Place and Sniffen Court, and have been home to celebrated residents (E.E. Cummings on Patchin Place; Irving Berlin on Beekman Place).
Small and tucked away, these streets offer a respite from the hectic city. “They have a special quality,” said Kevin Walsh, the creator of
Forgotten New York and one of many urban bloggers who find these enclaves irresistible. “You feel it the moment you set foot on these streets.”
And because they break the geometric precision that dominates much of the island, they offer unexpected vistas. “Even if you don’t think about the grid,” Mr. Walsh said, “you’re subconsciously aware of it, and you notice subliminally when it’s interrupted.”
Short streets have a few downsides. They befuddle taxi drivers. To arriving guests, it can be hard to explain exactly where you live. Residents sometimes know their neighbors almost too well; everyone knows when you come home at 2 in the morning. It’s easy for residents to obsess over amenities like outside lighting and other street furniture. As Simeon Bankoff, the executive director of the
Historic Districts Council, said, “People on some of these streets take their sidewalks very seriously.”
But residents don’t complain much. They realize they enjoy a benefit not often found in a big and congested city, the sense of being part of a small and exclusive community. “It was as if everyone was part of a large extended family,” said Alicia Bliss, a 39-year resident of
Henderson Place, a cul-de-sac north of East 86th Street that is home to dollhouse-size Queen Anne row houses. “Our front door was like a hallway to our neighbors’ houses.”

French Paradox

This is not a joke about two physicians who walk into a bistro.

The French Paradox is the anomaly involving a preternaturally thin culture of people who stay that way while enjoying, wine, cheese and pastries.


However, the homogenization of the world is apparently taking a toll on the citizens of France. I’m not talking about how they process their milk, but rather, how they’re adopting some bad American habits. Studies show the obesity rate among adults is climbing in France (although not as much as it is in America) and the stats are worse for young people.

Leisurely meals are reportedly an important ingredient of the French Paradox with families eating together and lingering over their food. However, a story by CBS in 2009, blamed a growing weight problem in France on an increase in their use of processed foods, with a decrease in the amount of time available for cooking and eating a meal of locally produced fresh food that might consist of a starter, entree, and a dessert (plus wine, cheese and bread).

This past weekend, the New York Times ran an article about Jenny Craig’s foothold in France. Apparently Jenny C. opened shop there about two years ago, and is doing well. The company’s general concept is the same, although the food is different. Americans apparently can’t do without three meals and three snacks a day, while a French Jenny C. plan only includes one snack, and their meals have less calories. While American dieters are sent “French Toast” for breakfast, French followers are served up cereal.

Then there’s fast food. McDonald’s has had a presence in France since the 1970’s and while it, too, has adapted its menu to cater to the culture, that menu includes processed food. The sauces may be different, the seating in McCafés more comfortable to encourage lingering over the meal, and you may be able to order a McBaguette for breakfast, but it’s still McDonald’s, which means it relies on standardized food bought in bulk to make a profit. That could be one of the reasons why weight problems among French youth has reportedly quadrupled in the last 25 years, because even though many people in France fought the invasion of the American fast food culture, young people have embraced it.

It’s the price of globalization. Technology has made the world smaller (and more sedentary), linking everyone together and bombarding far-flung cultures with new possibilities. But with the good, comes the bad. And that includes eating habits.

Macaron, anyone?

Secret French Door

I saw this door in Le Style Magazine (online). I don’t know exactly where it’s from, however, I think it’s absolutely wonderful and the color is great. I tried to pin it on Pinterest, but wasn’t able to, so I had to find another way to save it so I wouldn’t forget it -- like here, now.