Face Your Fears, otherwise known as put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye

No Thanks, way too big!

Face your fears,” the psy­chol­o­gists tell you. “Say to your­self I’m safe. Visu­al­ize your­self tak­ing off and land­ing safely.” How­ever, they’re sit­ting in a nice, air-conditioned office or in a TV stu­dio spout­ing this phi­los­o­phy, while you’re sus­pended in a metal sphere 35,000 feet above the ground, which at any moment could plum­met to earth. I’m still amazed that peo­ple can sleep on a plane. It ticks me off when the pas­sen­ger in the seat next to me sits, buck­les up, leans back, closes his eyes, and doesn’t open them until they feel the plane set down. How do they do that? My hus­band used to say that they had a clear con­science. Right!

I remem­ber a friend once told me before I boarded my flight to Iran in the 70s: “Relax! If it’s not your time, it’s not your time. BUT,” he added as I thanked him for mak­ing me feel bet­ter, “it could be the pilot’s time.”

I’ve always hated fly­ing into SFO. It’s ter­ri­fy­ing for a “white-knuckler” like me. I’m fly­ing to Ore­gon in 19 days on Alaska Air, and of course the flight stops in SFO and comes in on that freak­ing, ter­ri­fy­ing run­way. So close to the water you hold your breath until you feel the wheels touch down on solid ground. Then you’re still tense until you hear the brakes take hold and don’t relax until you feel the plane come to a stop. I won­der if there is an air­line that flies non-stop to Oregon.

A Great Review by U.S. Reviews

I waited for this review with trep­i­da­tion. When you pub­lish a book, it’s like hav­ing a baby; you hope every­one will love it, think its amaz­ing, breath-taking. You pray they don’t say, “Oh, poor thing, what an ugly baby.” So, this was such a great review I had to share it.

A Broad Abroad in Iran
by Dodie Cross
Cross­Roads Pub­li­ca­tions
reviewed by Donna Smith
“The thought of liv­ing abroad for two years didn’t seem that bad. It might be kind of excit­ing. When I said the word ‘abroad’it did sound rather exotic.”

Hold onto your stom­ach and breath deep because you’re about to enter the tumul­tuous world of Iran from 1977 to 1978. Cross takes the reader back more than 30 years to the time when her fam­ily left the com­fort of their Cal­i­for­nia home and fol­lowed her hus­band to his job in the Mid­dle East.

The city of Esfa­han proves chal­leng­ing. Cross comes up with an inge­nious way to san­i­tize fruits and veg­eta­bles. You’ll never again look at your washer as just a machine to clean your clothes. Food shop­ping is a tor­tu­ous endeavor, and dri­ving or rid­ing in a taxi is a heart pound­ing, death defy­ing adven­ture. Walk with Cross through the cav­ernous bazaar filled with a war­ren of shops fea­tur­ing cop­per pots, car­pets, gold, and wan­der­ing farm ani­mals. You’ll dis­cover along with Cross the hid­den beauty found in the coun­try­side and the won­der­ful expats and Ira­ni­ans she met. Cross’ chil­dren and hus­band embrace their for­eign expe­ri­ence while the author is always on the alert for dan­ger. And trou­ble finds them. The unrest in the coun­try bub­bles over and the fam­ily is forced to cut their stay short. Cross describes their depar­ture and the unnerv­ing three hour wait on the air­port tar­mac before their plane finally takes off. “My eyes burn from fatigue and fear. A trickle of per­spi­ra­tion slides down my spine, as the plane becomes a sauna. Over two hun­dred peo­ple crammed in with no air com­ing through the vents. We’re all breath­ing each other’s fear.”

Cross is a com­pelling writer who keeps the nar­ra­tive flow­ing at a nice pace, and she cer­tainly deserves a place amongst other travel mem­oirs such as Eliz­a­beth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.

RECOMMENDED by the USR

A Broad in The Big Easy, 1984

A Visit to Gulfport

A Broad in the Big Easy

Started my third book, “A Broad in the Big Easy” today and thought I’d give you a sneak peak. It is bit­ter­sweet recall­ing our family’s time in Louisiana. It was the last time we would be together as a fam­ily on a job assign­ment, and the last time my hus­band would be able to work.

Pro­logue — 1984

Hey buddy, how ‘bout comin’ inside and bringin’ your two lovely daugh­ters with ya.”
My hus­band and I, along with our daugh­ter, Lauri, were strolling down Bour­bon Street in New Orleans at the time, and I knew imme­di­ately that I’d love this place. I gave the barker a thank­ful smile, while my nineteen-year old daugh­ter said: “Gross!”

Sensory Overload — Day Six

DAY SIX:

The Stately Kykuit Estate

We were to meet in the lobby at 8:30 for an excur­sion to Kykuit, the Rock­e­feller fam­ily estate. Know­ing we wouldn’t be eat­ing for a few more hours, I decided to walk the streets and look for an eatery where I could get a cou­ple break­fast sand­wiches to take with us on the bus. I walked into McDon­alds, and as one would expect, the place was jammed: with stu­dents, tourists and peo­ple on their way to work. There were nine reg­is­ters and ten lines. After about fif­teen min­utes I was up to bat. I ordered two Egg McMuffns sand­wiches, and cof­fee. I sat down to eat mine, which was dry and had the taste of Syre­foam, with no hope of sal­va­tion. See­ing the line was snaking out­side the build­ing, I decided to take it like a man and eat the damned dried up thing. Poor Sandi, by the time we got on the bus and she could eat, hers was beyond sal­vaging; the muf­fin was hard and the eggs were expir­ing. So much for an Amer­i­can Icon.

As we boarded the bus and headed out to the sub­urbs of NYC, we actu­ally saw pri­vately owned cars, no taxis, peo­ple were actu­ally dri­ving a car, and the free­way was full of them. Well, this is more like it, I thought. I couldn’t live in a city with­out my car…or at least a front porch. We bused through quaint lit­tle towns, then into Sleepy Hol­low, and I remem­bered that sto­ried lit­tle town from my school days. A bust of Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing greeted us as we entered the city. What a lovely lit­tle town; small Mom and Pop stores, quint lit­tle antique stores, churches and rolling greens. And even porches and garages.

The Foun­tain Over­look­ing The Hud­son Valley

Kykuit, a Dutch name for “high point” sits on a hill with ter­raced gar­dens over­look­ing a breath­tak­ing view of the Hud­son Val­ley. It has been in the Rock­e­feller fam­ily for four gen­er­a­tions. The guide that took us through the estate was amaz­ing. She’d been doing this for only three years, but knew every nuance of the place, from the 20th cen­tury sculp­tures, art col­lec­tions, fine fur­ni­ture and a col­lec­tion of Chi­nese ceram­ics. The coach barn held cars from the 18th cen­tury and horse-dawn car­riages that were all used over the four generations.

The estate had it’s own tourist/souvenir shop at the entrance to the park where we read and admired sto­ries of this amaz­ing fam­ily. Lunch was at their deli counter, which took about a year to get to the front of the line, but was worth it. Next we were bused to the Union Church, a short ride from the estate, which the Rock­e­fellers had attended. The win­dows in the church are dra­matic, incred­i­bly stained glass work done by artists Matisse and Chagall.

Our Pedi-cab in Cen­tral Park

Our bus was to return to the hotel, but Sandi and I had longed to see Cen­tral Park, so we whined a bit, and were dropped off at the entrance to the park. What a sight to see. It was Memo­r­ial Day week­end, and the park was mobbed with peo­ple, sun­bathers, ball play­ers, walk­ers, bik­ers, dogs, cops on horses and pedi-cabs. Sandi and I decided to see the park from the Pedi-cab, which is a sur­rey hitched to a bicy­cle. We felt sorry for the poor fel­low ped­al­ing the bike as he strug­gled up inclines with about 300 pounds in his car­riage. He took us to the John Lennon Memo­r­ial, a large plaque set in a clear­ing where peo­ple were sit­ting and sign­ing his songs. Our biker told us that Ono had paid one mil­lion dol­lars to place that plaque in the park. We chose to ride for just thirty min­utes (and of course you can­not see the park in 20 min­utes) because the price per hour would surely pay the mort­gage on my home.

Leav­ing the park, we decided to walk back to the hotel. It was about fif­teen blocks, but we wanted to see every­thing before leav­ing the next day. When we saw the Plaza Hotel, we had to go inside. Again, amaz­ing, breath­tak­ing and all those other adjec­tives that don’t come to mind right now. Just walk­ing through those hal­lowed doors made us feel inept. We casu­ally walked toward the din­ing room, peeked at a menu and almost fainted. We were pretty hun­gry, but not for orange juice and a crois­sant for $50. We walked the hotel, upper and lower floors, and were amazed to see another city of shop­ping down­stairs. Food courts, bak­eries, sushi, any­thing you could want was there; but, still at an exor­bi­tant price.

Scarf­ing down our tube steaks at the Plaza

We decided to find a lit­tle café on our walk back to the hotel. As soon as we stepped out­side, I spot­ted a grimy lit­tle hot dog stand on the cor­ner. Now, how can you go to New York with­out eat­ing a New York hot dog? We both ordered one, and with nowhere to sit and eat, we decided to sit down on the stairs of the hotel. We wanted a steak din­ner at the Plaza but set­tled for a tube steak on their steps. By the time we drug back to the hotel, all we wanted was our jamies and a good movie on TV. Are we get­ting old?

At 7 a.m. the next morn­ing, not want­ing to piss off the wait staff again. Sylvia and I headed down 45th, and found a quaint lit­tle French restau­rant where we had a deli­cious Eggs Bene­dict break­fast. Sandi slept in and break­fasted with some of the other gals. Then we had to do the unthinkable—pack our suit­cases and pre­pare to leave. With my bucket list ful­filled, I sadly packed and bid a farewell to the great city of New York.