Saturday, June 14, 2014

Leaving the Island of the Blue Doplhins to Graduate Without Having exposed myself to Pre-Cancerous Skin Conditions

Is it or isn't it the Island of the Blue Dolphins? You make the call.

Our little sojourn to the Island of the Blue Dolphins (Some children's literature experts have theorized that Catalina is the Island of the Blue Dolphins on which Scott o'Dell based his  book of the same name. I haven't read enough of the research to have formed a strong opinion.) is history. 

We spent the better part of four days frolicking  in the fun if not necessarily in the sun. The good news is that I have no sunburn to show for this vacation. The bad news is that there wasn't a whole lot of sun.  As a native Californian, I'm of the opinion that sun is highly overrated. I spent my childhood in the San Joaquin/Sacramento Delta and in the vast Central Valley, where, other than the respite in December and January when we got essentially two months of unadulterated and uninterrupted Tule fog, sunshine was the norm. I now live on the central coast of California, where temperatures are milder in both directions, and I like it that way. Still, the idea of having jeans-and-sweatshirts weather all day long in June  isn't common even where I live, though is far from unappealing to me. 

You can see that at this point, sun cancer isn't pursuing me voraciously.. This, by the way, is my only friend from the trip who would alow her photo to appear, but even she refused to be identified.

I might have liked to have gone go to school in a colder-weather locale -- say Dartmouth -- but my doctor said that while I might think I would enjoy extremely cold temperatures, it would get old really fast, and my under-insulated body is not well suited to sub-zero weather on a regular and continued basis. Once I'm finished with my education and formal training, I can spend as much of my vacation time there as I desire, and I'm satisfied to settle for that.

The weather was a bit iffy for parasailing, but I found someone willing to take me up on Wednesday and Thursday. Once again, I lack the words to describe the ways in which one's senses are totally engaged beyond what I would have considered even possible before having parasailed  for myself. Parasailing is to me what the Rocky Mountains were to John Denver. I was born in that late autumn of my sixteenth year, coming home to a place I'dnever been before, when i first took to the skies in parasailing apparati. 

If I could find a way to be paid -- even minimum wage - to climb in a boat and be propelled into the sky every day of my life , I'd crumple and throw all hopes and dreams relating to  medical school out a twelve-story window in a heartbeat.  Unfortunately, no one is extending any offers of bankrolling my parasailing habit, so it looks like the second love of my life -- medicine -- will have to suffice, along with frequent parasailing excursions.

an incomparable experience

The video I'm attaching here has not all that much to do with parasailing except that it has the word "sail" in its title and it uses the word repeatedly in the song. It's by Lionel Richie, and performed by Richie with the Commodores. It's one of his greatest songs out of an expansive catalog of great songs. My dad and I like to sing it together because we both love it so much, and it has quaint harmonies.

The next video I'm attaching is in reference to a friendly debate I had with a fellow boat passenger, a man of perhaps forty years of age, on the return trip. He was listening to Bocelli's version of Nessun Dorma on his ipod. When he took the ipod out of his ear briefly, I heard, and he noted my interest. We got began a very civil and non-heated discussion on the merits of Bocelli versus Pavarotti with regard to the particular aria of Nessun Dorma. 

My personal opinion is that Bocelli has talent oozing from every pore, and that I would trade everything I own, everything I know,  and everything I can do to be able to sing the female counterpart version to the way he sings. My respect for him is immense.

On the other hand, Luciano Pavarotti owns "Nessun Dorma." It's as though Puccini wrote the aria maybe a hundred years ago (it sounds much older) with the inexplicable knowledge that one day someone would come along and would transform this already perfect aria into something greater than anyone ever knew it could be. Sometimes the sum of two parts is greater than the whole it should equal, and such is the case when Luciano Pavarotti sings "Nessun Dorma."  I can't express it. Just listen to the song; maybe you'll hear what I'm trying to say. If I didn't believe in God, I probably would after hearing Pavarotti's rendition of this magnificent aria. Even if you don't like operatic music, you may still find something there if you listen with open ears and an open heart.

I don't think I changed the opinion of the gentleman with whom I was debating, and I know he didn't change my opinion, but I appreciated the discussion, and I believe he did as well.

Incidentally, I graduate this weekend. My biochemistry commencement ceremony is Saturday afternoon (today), and my music graduation is Sunday afternoon. They're both still combined with other similar disciplines and so are large enough to be impersonal even though they're somewhat departmental, but my parents really want me to go through both. I'm participating in the humanities graduation  with one violin piece,a short piano selection, and an ensemble number with my cellist friend,my pseudouncle (they wanted him based on a couple of recitals even though he has nothing to do with the university; I suspect  they're trying to get him to join their adjunct faculty)and the tenor I just accompanied for his recital. That ceremony will be short on speeches and long on musical performances, so it should be less boring to me than the other one.

It's a tough call: does a  university have a mega-ceremony, or break it down by departments? If it's broken down small enough, each graduate can be recognized. On the other hand, a reasonably prestigious university,if it holds a single commencement exercise,  can usually attract and/or afford a big-ticket speaker. I think if I had my druthers, I'd forego having my name read in order to hear Colin Powell or Bill Clinton speak.  It's out of my hands, though, so I'll go with the flow and be happy I'm graduating.


  1. Congratulations on your graduations! I like the Commodores, too!

    As a fellow pale person, I'm not a fan of sunburn, so I think it's a good thing you didn't get one on your trip. On the other hand, sorry the weather sucked so hard.

    Sounds like you have a busy weekend!

    1. Today's graduation was interesting in a not-very-interesting sort of way.That makes no sense at all, I realize.

  2. I got a few sunburns on Catalina during my youth. The Mormon teens in my SoCal ward went to Camp Fox every year for youth conference. Very nice memories, well, except for the sunburns. Congrats on graduation!

  3. We had fun even with the overcast skies, Thanks for the congrats, Donna. I have a feeling what i'm up against starting in September will make undergrad studies seem like a walk in the park, but you have to pay before you can play.