Archive for March, 2011

A Return to the Black Widowers

The Return of the Black Widowers (The Black Widowers, #6)The Return of the Black Widowers by Isaac Asimov

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Awhile ago, something someone did or said sparked a memory for me of a Black Widowerer story. It goes like this: A man lives on a street of outwardly identical houses, one night comes home dead drunk, and enters the wrong house, wherein he busts in on a counterfeiting ring mid-illegal-operation. When he is woken up lying in the street the next morning by his wife, he can’t remember which house it was: He was fortunately unharmed by the counterfeiters but is now unfortunately haunted by the question: Which one of his neighbors is a crook?

Asimov’s Black Widower stories are all, essentially, the same; they adhere to a rigid structure. So when the memory of this story came back to me so clearly — I could remember nearly every detail — I wondered: Why did this one stick with me all these many, many years? I hadn’t read an Asimov book since high school and I had, like a good mystery-series obsessive, read nearly all of the Black Widowerer titles at some point. I promptly checked this book out of the library to figure it out.

The answer for the man with the counterfeiting neighbor is, just as it always is in BW stories, so very obvious. Rereading the story, I knew what was coming and could pick out the clues that Asimov subtly scattered — but I remembered that “Aha, of Course!” moment the first time around and enjoyed the story just as much anticipating it. Asimov was a master at putting all of the clues necessary to solve a mystery right where you wouldn’t expect them: directly in front of you.

And of course I couldn’t just read that one story: I read a book full of them, and so many of the other stories were also fantastic, just as worthy of remembrance. I still have no idea why that one in particular stuck with me. Oh well. It’s a mystery.

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Yoga Retreat in Tulum

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For five days, I did four hours of yoga a day on the beach in a chilled-out, charming beachtown in Mexico. I ate well and drank different kinds of juices at every meal. My arms got pumped (or at least they got sore) and I loved every second of it! Ladycation, you do me right.

I’ve traveled quite a bit in Mexico, both in highly touristy areas and in more off-the-beaten path places. And I have always loved it — the starkly beautiful landscapes, the food, the ruins, the beaches, the mezcal.

Tulum is still unmarred by large, Spring-break-type resorts and is far enough away from Cancun to feel like a totally different world. Apparently, they are planning to build an airport for Tulum — something that, according to my sources, or the guy who sits across from me at work and is also obsessed with Tulum, the locals are not happy about. It’s only an hour and forty drive from Cancun, and the distance ensures it remains as it is — a lovely town that is, yes, touristy but intimate and infused with an artsy, bohemian flavor. Yes, I just want Tulum to stay as is for my own personal pleasure, I admit it. But it will hurt to see yet another off-the-beaten-track place lost to the Spring Breakers.

Here’s a photo of the view from the little yoga studio on the beach — Ok, so this is going to sound annoyingly bougey — but if you’re into yoga and you’ve never taken a class with views of the beach as your point of focus and the sound of the ocean in the background regulating your breath, you’ve got to try it.

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Because I was doing so much yoga each day, I didn’t get to explore Tulum as much as I would’ve liked. I promise myself to rectify that soon! We spent one day at the COBA ruins, took a quick dip in the Grand Cenotes and we spent one afternoon attempting to bird-watch while kayaking through the mangroves at the nature preserve just north of Tulum. (Just in case anyone is clueless to the habits of birds — as I was — they really don’t like to be watched in the afternoon. So really it was more like an afternoon of straight-up kayaking the mangroves.) If and when I go back, I’d like to sample more of the cuisine in Tulum town and along the beach. I heard tell of a cinnamon margarita, which sounds amazing.

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The retreat also gave me a chance to rediscover yoga in a way that I hadn’t expected. Bikram will always be my first yoga love, but our teachers showed me how challenging, engaging, intellectual and rewarding a vigorous Vinyasa flow practice can be. I’m still some months away from getting up into forearm stand and for some reason I have a very hard time with the Vinyasa-version of half-moon pose / ardha chandrasana and always fall out; but I’ve gotten my headstand and shoulder stand strong and I’m getting close to holding handstand for a few moments without the use of the wall.