A Golden State of Mind: Chapter 2 – Southern California

Arrival in Southern California, August 1983

In the first chapter of my California saga I recounted my childhood obsession with the Golden State and my first visits there as a teenager in April and June of 1975. A year later I graduated from high school and began attending a local university only a few miles from home in Massachusetts. Therefore, the California Dream was relegated to a back burner for awhile.

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Escape from San Francisco and the COVID Road Trip

When I made my initial decision to move out of California almost two years ago, it seemed like an eternity before I would actually be leaving. But time sneaks up on us, and in the strange time warp that the COVID crisis has created, weeks and months have run together and made a lot of us lose track of time. I should have used my time more constructively while I was sheltering in place to clear out my apartment after 29 years of living there, but I procrastinated and due to the crisis, I kept pushing back my date of departure from May 31, to June 15, to June 30, to July 7 and that gave me the sense that I had all the time in the world. All I can say to those of you who have lived in one place for a long time and are thinking of moving anytime within the next 50 years, is “Start TODAY!” Let me be your cautionary tale.

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A Golden State of Mind: Chapter 1 – California Dreaming

In just under a week from now, I’ll be leaving California after having lived here for the past 38 years. With this impending move and the ample time that the COVID crisis has provided for self-reflection, I’ve been pondering my long and often complicated relationship with “The Golden State.” I’ve decided to describe how this relationship began long before I ever stepped foot in California, and how it grew and changed over the course of my life. This will be the first in a series of relatively short posts or “chapters” that focus on different periods in my relationship with California. In this first entry I’ll describe how my fascination with California began and set the stage for my eventual move to the Golden State.

The Final (Round-Trip) Road Trip, Winter 2020

For the 10 or 15 years I’ve driven cross country from San Francisco to New England (making many stops along the way) every summer and every Christmas. If you’ve read some of my other road trip blog posts, you already know that these trips are probably some of the happiest times I’ve ever experienced…

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The freedom of the road… chasing the sunset.

Let’s go… one more time!

The Best Laid Plans: Spring of 2020

There is a much over-used expression that states, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.” Well, here I am using it again because it fits like a glove to describe what the last few months have been like for all of us. Back in the halcyon days of December 2019 and January 2020, I had plans. Big plans. Scary, but exciting plans…

Find out what happened to the plans… read on!

I Blame It All On My Mother

I wrote this a few years ago, but thought I would re-post it today for Mother’s Day:

Although I’m not a clinical psychologist and I recognized early in my career that I didn’t have the patience to deal with patients, I’ve been studying psychology for almost 40 years and teaching for over 30. From the original writings of Dr. Freud to the hideous array of pop psychology self-help books that abound in bookstores, a theme emerges all too frequently: whatever the psychological issue you are dealing with, it is probably somehow your mother’s fault. While I personally think mothers have been unfairly targeted in this argument over the root cause of our adult neuroses, I can definitively say that my mother is absolutely the reason for the fact that I am a self-diagnosed Travel Addict today.

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Living and Traveling During the “Apocalypse” – March, 2020

Here we are at the end of March, and who could have guessed how quickly and dramatically our everyday lives would change even just 3 or 4 weeks ago? As the new year began, I’d made plans to travel to Italy over Spring Break, leaving on March 7 to work with colleagues at Mt. Vesuvius on a new study of volcanic risk perception. However, by early February, I was feeling too stressed by my upcoming retirement and move out of California to even think about going abroad for almost two weeks. In a move that surprised even myself, I reluctantly informed my Italian colleagues that I wouldn’t be able to come over as we’d planned. Never would I have imagined passing up an opportunity to go to Italy, but I really do have an awful lot on my plate.

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Road Trip! A Journey Across the USA

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My first cross country drive was in summer of 1976 at the ripe old age of 18, and since then I’ve actually lost count of how many round trips I’ve made from coast to coast to coast, but I do know that it is over 40. One of those trips actually took me from San Francisco to Texas to Virginia to Massachusetts to Alaska and back down to California… a mere 10,000 miles. Many people can’t understand why any sane person would opt to drive for 6 or 7 days rather than taking a 6 hour plane flight, but these pictures may give you a glimpse of why I crave the open roads. Here’s a compilation of photos I’ve taken along the way over the years. (I first posted this in 2016, but have made significant updates since then.)

Let’s hit the road!

Raven & Lily: Collierville, Tennessee

Just a half hour east of Memphis you’ll find the truly charming town of Collierville, Tennessee. A walk around its picturesque central square, and the myriad little shops and restaurants that surround it, will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to an innocent 1950s or 1960s sitcom back lot. Visiting earlier this month, with the square decked out in Christmas lights and decorations, I would have sworn I had been transported into a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie!

While visiting town, I met my dear friend, Daniel, for an amazing lunch at a small restaurant facing the square called Raven & Lily. Housed in a lovely brick building, the restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere, and as soon as I started to peruse the menu, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of items I wanted to try. One appetizer that caught my eye was roasted sweet potatoes with carrots, house bacon, onions & Danish blue cheese. But because this is the south and I love traditional southern dishes, I opted for the fried green tomatoes with a lemon caper remoulade, and a cup of a nicely spicy, hearty corn and shrimp chowder. It was a tough call, though because shrimp and grits and seafood mac ‘n’ cheese also called to me. My friend Daniel ordered an enormous fried chicken sandwich that was impossible to eat without the aid of a knife and fork given its enormous size. He said it was fantastic, as were my dishes.

I made sure to save room for dessert, which was yet another difficult decision. The menu included lemon curd and shortbread with berries, a brioche cinnamon roll with cinnamon ice cream, and a caramel-vanilla bread pudding. Oh the humanity! But I decided on the made-to-order dark chocolate souffle with vanilla anglais. I have had souffles in Paris itself, and this one held up against anything I’ve tasted there. It was a truly deep, dark chocolate, and knowing that Daniel is not really a “dessert person” (I love him despite this character flaw!), I thought it was safe to offer him a taste. His eyes sort of rolled back into his head in a way that made me think he was about to faint. I may make a dessert person out of him yet!

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So, if you find yourself anywhere close to the Metro Memphis area, I’d urge you to make the effort to head out to Collierville for a calm respite from the city and an absolutely gourmet-quality meal at Raven & Lily. I know I will be returning; there are a whole lot of dishes yet to be sampled!