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APR
16

The Bucket List

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I've been plugging away at the NYC version of my bucket list. My birthday was probably the greatest progress I've made yet--Pippin Vintage Jewelry (which I've since been back to), the elusive Central Park Carousel, etc.--and since I last updated this blog, I've gone to my first Knicks game and seen the Rockettes.

But of course, the NYC version of the bucket list is different from the overall Life version of the bucket list, and also since I last updated my blog, I took a little road trip and got to cross something off that I've always wanted to do (or see, I should say). And that is the cherry blossom festival in DC. True that they're just blossoms, and it's not as if one doesn't know what to expect when reading and hearing about the event ("blossoms everywhere" "a sea of blossoms" "blossoms all the way around [whatever that small body of water is called that is right there]"), but still, being there and seeing them was pretty breathtaking. Aside from the crowds (we hit it right at the peak weekend), it was a glorious weekend. And even though you know they will be, it still makes you shake your head in awe about there being so many blossoms. So many blossoms all in bloom at the same time. Indeed, there were large stretches of grass shaded completely by nothing but blossoms.

I'll shut up about the blossoms, but if you have a chance to see this one at some point in your life, you should. It smells divine, and it reminds you that the world truly is a beautiful place. At least DC is. On the second weekend in April.

MAR
18

Saving the Best for Last

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I'm a lover of jewelry (my readers will soon find out just how much), and the first time I went to DC, seeing the Hope Diamond was the highlight of my trip. I mention this experience in my next book, that of working my way through the gemology exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It starts with metals and mining, moves on up to various semi-precious stones (both faceted and cabochon), expands from there into a room of some of the most beautiful precious stone-riddled pieces you'll ever see (many owned and worn my famous royals), and culminates with a large case containing the Hope Diamond.

While in DC this past weekend, I was not about to miss out on a chance to see the Hope again, only this time I entered the exhibit backwards. I cut right to the chase. I started with the Hope Diamond. And not that it was any less sparkly this way, but I admit that everything I saw after that was kind of a let down. How could it not be? The royal jewels, the walls and walls of cut stones and rough, the nuggets of gold and platinum. After the Hope Diamond, who the hell cares? There is something to be said for saving the best for last.

It's not always possible to do this. One doesn't always know what the best even is, and consequently that it would be more satisfying to save it for last. And some "dessert first" people actually prefer that the best be first. Unless I have a limited amount of time and can only do/see/eat one thing (in which case I would have totally chosen the Hope Diamond), I prefer saving the best for last. And I've been thinking about this recently in light of multiple books by the same author. It's tough to consistently churn out amazing prose, and much tougher when an author's first book puts him at the top of the bestseller list. Because it's hard to keep up that kind of momentum, hard to meet the kind of expectations readers would then have. I recently looked up and bought other books by the authors of some of my favorites, and I haven't liked any of them as much as the author's first hit. I guess that's the price you pay when your prize piece gets put on paper first. Or when you start at the end of a Smithsonian exhibit. You've got nowhere to go but down.

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