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in which I share a cup with Gwyneth Paltrow

I have a Very Big Birthday coming up in  two months.  REALLY BIG. As if to celebrate that fact, my body has started to disintegrate. I have this twingey thing in my knee, and then there’s that little hitch in my hip, and my neck sounds like there are cornflakes in it. Plus I have a shoulder thing.  I don’t know if years of waitressing, back in the twentieth century, …

The Gift of the Snail

We’ve spent the last six weeks or so in the U.S. visiting friends and family, including a trip to Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.  My kids go to a British school, so this trip was my attempt to offer them a dollop of U.S. history, which for some reason their school doesn’t offer.  Sore losers, if you ask me. We stayed at a great cheap hotel right on the water and …

Teaching Keeps You Young. Except When It Makes You Feel Old.

Here’s the thing about being a professor: your students stay roughly the same from year to year. Eighteen is eighteen is eighteen, more or less. And the same with the twenty-year olds, and with the about-to-graduates.  Yes, the particularities of dreams and ambitions, talents and strengths, vary from student to student, but in a general way, youth is youth. Yes. Youth is youth, and every term, you sail further and …

does this mud make me look younger?

So I’ve done something to my shoulder. I don’t know what I did but it’s been sore for months. Maybe I over-eagled my arms in eagle pose, or perhaps my efforts to be Miss Plank Body in chaturanga have backfired, or maybe it’s just a warning shot across the bow about what’s going to happen once I finally bid farewell to my late-mid-forties. You know the signs. You’ve got A …

in which we learn to redefine “bad weather”

It was going to be glorious. A full moon kayak expedition into the mangrove forests that grow on one side of Abu Dhabi island (what’s that you say? you didn’t know Abu Dhabi is an island? It’s an island sort of like Manhattan is an island: easy to forget when you’re deep in the scrum of traffic and tall buildings but then you get up into one of the skyscrapers …