Trail of Crumbs

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It’s Wednesday, and I find that I’m still recovering from a weekend full of Bacchanalia spent up in Canada. There was so much … excess. I made so many bad decisions (most of them nutritional, though a few were sartorial) that at one point I turned to Rand and said, “This feels like college.”

And as I reflect, with no small matter of cringing, upon my mistakes from not only this weekend but also from the late 90s (oh, god, my hair), I realize now might be the perfect time to tell you about my visit to the Louvre.

Because as far as museums go, that place is a fucking frat party.

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My husband sees beauty where others do not, and for that, I’m grateful.

The d’Orsay often plays second fiddle to the Louvre. And it shouldn’t.

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When something is aesthetically pleasing but too obvious, too easily attained, he tends to ignore it. While the world touts some new supermodel or starlet as the new standard of sexiness and perfection, my husband quietly notes that he really likes Maggie Gyllenhaal, and confesses to having had a thing for Helen Hunt.

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There is no photography allowed inside the upper galleries of le musée de l’Orangerie.

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I can hear them.

Their shrieks and cries reverberate against the stone walls. They are far enough away that their wails are less ear piercing than normal – I wince at them, but the noise alone is not enough to render me immobile (as I know it can in closer proximities). Occasionally, I hear the muffled moans of one of their earlier victims (they seem to be dragging him along for sport).

I must keep going.

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I have a problem with mixing up beauty and goodness. I am fully aware of how bad this is.

I mean, I’ve seen Snow White, guys. I get that the evil queen can be both hot and, well, evil.

But I still have trouble getting my head around that fact. I just can’t get past the fact that something can look one way, and be totally different. (For the record, the converse is not true for me: I don’t assume that everyone and everything ugly is evil. Even though I’ve had some I’m-wearing-sweatpants-today-and-I’m-in-a-rotten-mood moments that would affirm that idea.)

Sometimes beautiful things belie their horrible true selves. That’s the case with Robben Island. I know that awful things happened there. The relics remain: the narrow cell where Nelson Mandela spent the better part of two decades, the limestone quarry where he and other prisoners slowly went half blind as they worked in the searing sun.

But, in spite of all of that? It’s still incredibly beautiful. And that’s a hard thing to reconcile.

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I love the internet.

I suppose that’s not the most revelatory statement I’ve ever made. It’s probably up there with “I like cupcakes” and ” OMG TRAVEL IS NEAT-O.”

But cupcakes existed long before I did, and travel has been around since the day that a caveman went for a long walk and thought, “Grog grunga tok.” Which, in this little vignette I’ve created, roughly translates to: “OMG TRAVEL IS NEAT-O.”

But the internet? It hasn’t been around all that long. I clearly remember a time before it. I won’t call it the Dark Ages, mostly because that phrase is already used to describe the cultural and economic deterioration that supposedly occurred in Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire (source: THE INTERNET!) But things before its existence were indeed less enlightened than they are now.

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The entrance to Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin.

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I was talking recently with some friends, and they were telling me about a new phenomenon in the processing of coffee beans. The fad involved coffee cherries that are passed through the digestive track of a civet cat (mammals native to the islands of Java and Sumatra). The cats can’t process the beans themselves, so those are excreted whole, and then gathered by coffee connoisseurs, who claim that the fermentation process that occurred inside the animals digestive track makes the beans taste better. The result, they maintain, is a superior cup of coffee.

In short, people are using coffee beans that cats have pooped out.

If you are anything like me, hearing this news on an early and crisp January morning is more than enough to cause you to bid adieu to mankind as a whole, return your bed, and weep for the future of our species. Because, and I can’t believe I really need to say this, WE SHOULD NOT BE INGESTING THINGS WE FIND IN CAT POOP.

It also makes me wonder if maybe we’ve all gone a little bit soft. If, for many of us, life has gotten just a little too good, a little too easy, that we can devote our time to such excesses.

For those of us living in a world of pooped-out coffee, My Super Sweet 16, and vajazzling (if you are at work, do yourself a huge favor and DO NOT CLICK ON THAT LINK), I feel like reality checks are necessary every now and then.

My most recent one came courtesy of Kilmainham Jail (or Gaol, as we often saw it spelled), in Dublin.

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I was recently talking to someone close to me about marriage.

She told me about Buddhism, and her husband, and their shared views on infidelity – and how the damage it does is like throwing a stone in a pond. The stone causes a splash on impact, but it also causes ripples to form, which extend outward, eventually touching every aspect of your life.

In short, if you want a happy life, and a happy marriage, don’t cause ripples in your pond.

I really liked the analogy. Seriously, can you think of a more poetic way of saying “don’t go around banging random peeps”?

And with that in mind, I would like to start 2013 with a confession of sorts.

Oh, relax. It’s not that interesting.

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