Let Yourself Fear During and Nevermore

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Photo: Zhanna Krukovets | Walking on Clouds | Stunning shot — thank you!

Fear is such a troublesome thing.  Just the other day, my young friend shared her travel dreams wondering how to deal with fear while adventuring alone and I remembered the days when the same thing bewildered me.

One summer, I set off to live in an antiquated house located in the woody seclusion of a tiny, North Carolinian town.  A two month hiatus is what I had in mind. I drive, drive, drive.  Arrive in the dark passing the unmarked entrance of the house several times before realizing that the unlit house with no visible house number is the one.  My car crawls up its vertical driveway.  I park in a swarthy car port, step-out, look around and shiver a little.

The moon is bright— everything is dark.  The key is supposedly hidden somewhere on the porch.  I step up a high stair, something squeaks, I jump, look around and notice a squeaky porch swing swaying with the wind.

The key is no where to be found.  I follow the directions looking here and lifting there until— late as it is— I am forced to make the call.  The phone rings, rings, rings.  Finally an answer.  I receive a different set of instructions, find the keys, regain my composure and push the shiny, copper key into the keyhole.  The door peers open.

I was expecting a cozy, charming cottage full of all the story book comforts, but as the door swings open the smell of an uninhabited old house fills my lungs.  I unpack my pillow and my first night begins as old house noises swoon in and out of my ears.  I was exhausted, but sleep had nothing to do with me.  Stupid fears made kept me wide awake. There was no danger known to me, but I was afraid.

I thought of Zhanna [pictured above], as she was on an adventure of her own. I call her.  “How are you not afraid doing what you are doing,” I ask and receive an answer that will stay with me for eternity:

“I don’t allow myself to be afraid until something happens.  If something happens I let myself be afraid at that moment, but nevermore.”

Veselka/Веселка | The Iconic Ukrainian Eatery in East Village

I graduated some time ago, but one of my best professors continues to send clippings on all thingsUkraine, or Russia, or both.  When I say send I do not mean via e-mail.  He is an avid newspaper reader and takes the time to clip articles, place them into envelopes, hand write the address, attach the stamp, and post them to my house. This is something.

I love getting those surprise packages, always brimming with intriguing tidbits.  Today’s envelope contained an article about a snazzy Ukrainian eatery in the East Village, called Veselka, it has been around for several decades serving garlicky Ukrainian пельмені and боршт while becoming a hot spot for Ukrainian anarchists and artists. Just the sort of place I would adore. Okay, so I haven’t tried visited yet, but will some New Yorker give it a test run?

VESELKA: 144 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10003. (212) 228-9682.



Why You Should Visit the Vanderbilt Estate Library in Asheville, NC


Stepping into this room at the Vanderbilt Estate in Asheville, North Carolina reminded me of that glorious scene from Walt Disney’s, Beauty and the Beast. I must add, this just may be my favorite cartoon scene of all time. You know the part when the Beast orders Belle to close her eyes. He blindly leads her into a room. Tells her to open her eyes— magic. She is surrounded by endless bookshelves lining the walls overfilling with beautifully-spined books to her left and to her right; above and below, books, books, and more books.

That is how I felt inside of the Vanderbilt Estate library. It was large, the ceilings were high and not an inch of bare wall space remained.  Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, space was slathered with books.  Every topic that could be named in the early nineteen hundreds could be found in this collection. High and low, gorgeous, leather-bound books glistened with their meticulously ornamented spines.  Rooms filled with books create a magical atmosphere, they give the impression that you are not really breathing oxygen, but rather inhaling wisdom.

Overall, I highly recommend the tour of the Vanderbilt Estate if you ever find yourself in or around Asheville. The house is gorgeous, sitting on a beautiful plot of land where you will find gardens, an operating vineyard, restaurant, café, and a hotel. What else does a tourist need?