For Spring Break this year, Mr. Understanding and I hit the road with Thing 3 on our final “college tour” of all time. This is not to say we won’t visit more institutions of higher learning, just not all in one go. Thing 2 went on two tours, both with Thing 3 tagging along, so T3 has seen a lot of universities. This time we went due south to Tennessee and Kentucky. It was a truncated college tour so I am not even sure it qualifies as Quest 3. Interspersed between visits were other sightseeing activities as Mr. Understanding travels to both states but never has time to check out the happenings. And frankly, with child #3, I am just too tired for hard-core college touring.
First up was Nashville, Tennessee. Can I just say how much we all loved that city? What is not to like about cowboy boots (three pairs for the price of one), boot scooting boogies while dining at lunch downtown, the Grand Ole Opry, and President Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage? Great hotels (The Hutton and The Hermitage) and great meals (Fido). Naturally, we could not do the city all in one go. Our priority was to tour the fancy university there first, medical school alma mater of Dr. Skin. It was beautiful and had a price tag to match. MCV was Here is also peripherally related to the university bearing her married name so we needed to check it out on her family’s behalf. I did all my Christmas shopping for my nephews at the Barnes and Noble bookstore.
Then we headed east and a small university on the top of a hill. Think Southern Hogwarts. Think a town so small there is no stoplight. Think Beauty and Enlightenment and Church. We all loved the people here and the educational philosophy. But can Thing 3 live far away from the Bright Lights and Big City? Perhaps!
Later we headed to Kentucky, on a ramble. While Mr. Understanding went to work, Thing 3 and I hit the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. Even if you do not like baseball, this museum whacks it out of the park. Did you know that MLB players go through an average of 100-150 bats per season? If you are in the minors, you have to buy your own bats so players do not order the uber pricey ones. The three of us also went to the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, another excellent adventure. At the end, Mr. Understanding and I shared a “Kentucky hug” (that delicious feeling as bourbon slides down to your tummy). We had so much fun we hit the Woodford Reserve, another stop on the Bourbon Trail, on the way to Lexington. On the tour of the warehouse, where kegs of bourbon (and a little bit of rye) were stacked to the rafters, the smell – “angel share” – was indeed heavenly. Baby foals were out in the fields of the nearby horse farms, gamboling around, as we drove to town.
The following day we toured the Mary Todd Lincoln House (worth it!) and drove around the campus of the University of Kentucky, lunching at a delightful restaurant called Shakespeare and Company. Shakespeare and Company has outlets in Qatar, the UAE, and Eygpt among other Middle Eastern locations. Although there was a table of women wearing hijabs, mint juleps were also on the menu. Why is this restaurant found only in Kentucky and the Middle East? No clue! Perhaps due to those Arabian interests at the racetrack who want a place to procure za’tar and a manhattan? No tours were offered at UK during Spring Break (perhaps because everyone was invested in basketball? or opening day at the racetrack Keeneland?) but Thing 3 decided it was definitely worth a return visit.
Last night, Diane Sawyer, a native of Louisville, Kentucky, interviewed Bruce Jenner as he discussed his decision to transgender, which Mr. Understanding, Thing 3, and I watched. Diane did her home state proud. Rather than enter the fray of discussion, I will just say I do believe Bruce/”she” (he hasn’t publicized a female name yet) was courageous for examining her soul and doing the interview. I cannot say that I understand it yet, either. But did the interview help others like Jenner? Unequivocally, the answer would have to be yes. My job, as a citizen of the world and a Christian, is to be true to my baptismal vows which state I must respect the dignity of every human being.
On that front, I am there with Jenner but not with ISIS. Although, I can easily conclude that, in the case of ISIS, their actions are not those of human beings. This week was another hard news week with 30 Ethiopians beheaded by ISIS in Libya. One of the victims was apparently Muslim and refused to abandon his Christian friend. Terrorism also reared it’s ugly head in my backyard this week, with the arrest of a naturalized US citizen who went to high school in Columbus. Most weeks, Thing 3 and I volunteer at a local church’s Homework Club near where this man grew up. Ostensibly created to serve the Hispanic community, several Ethiopian and Eritrean families attend as well. If you have read Abraham Verghese’s epic novel Cutting for Stone, you may remember that Eritrea was engaged in a thirty year long war for independence from Ethiopia (1961-1991) as well as a more recent, shorter war. One of the women at the Homework Club always wears a big Ethiopian cross around her neck, similar to the one pictured above. It is both intricate and funky. When I asked her about the killings she told me, “There is a big sadness in Ethiopia right now. And there will be more killings as more have been captured.” Then she went on to speak to her Eritrean friend in what was probably Tigrinya. Their children, like the women, are friends; they are super smart, motivated, and alert to the world.
To conclude this week’s post, I would like to ask my readers to share a Kentucky hug with other angels in their midst, those known and unknown*. To have an open mind and an open heart, per Bruce’s request. To go on a road trip with your child and find an affordable college that suits your child’s needs. To wear orange to honor the martyrs this week. What is happening in your world? This is what is going on in mine. It’s GDFR, folks.
*Hebrews 13:2, KJV, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” This verse sums up the expat experience. I know a lot of angels!
I apologize for not having the links to the news stories – the internet and WordPress are playing tricks with me.