The road not taken.

Back when I was a person who owned both a car and a horse, I used to get a catalog from an equestrian-themed travel agency. They could hook you up with a fox hunt in Ireland that would be glad to have you ride along with the hounds, or a Dutch dressage trainer with no objection to having you work his Grand Prix horses for a week or so.

But I wasn’t interested in that. There were only two trips that seemed worth the time and money. One was a tour of Iceland’s volcanic inland on that country’s native ponies, and the other was a trip across the Mongolian steppes, retracing the route of Genghis Khan.

People laughed at me when I mentioned this. Both trips, the catalog warned, were not for those fearful of roughing it. The diet on the Iceland trip would be mostly mutton, and this after an average of 25 miles in the saddle each day. (But! We would soothe our saddlesores in volcanic hot springs, stay with the locals and cover those miles at a gait only Icelandic ponies do, called the “tolt.”) The Mongolian trip would be similarly grueling, with lodging in yurts and a diet consisting mostly of yogurt.

I should have done at least one of these. Now I probably never will. (I’m certainly not in shape for a 25-mile day horseback, which would have been tough at the top of my game.) But my fascination with both countries remains, although now I mostly live it out through newspaper stories like this.

Seems someone thinks he’s found Genghis Khan’s tomb:

Finding the spot where the great Mongolian conqueror was laid to rest in 1227 by his famed horseback warriors would fill in a blank that has fascinated historians for centuries. Although he and his descendants galloped out of Mongolia to subdue most of the known world, Genghis Khan was buried without a monument or even a headstone, in keeping with Mongol belief that the dead should not be disturbed. Legend has it that the soldiers who carried out the mission were slaughtered to make sure the secret was safe for all time.

You can have your Roman empire. I mean, it’s interesting and foundational to western civ and all, but there’s something about Genghis and his homies that has always fascinated me. When I was pregnant, my amnio was done by a geneticist in a one-woman office. I noticed a photo on her office wall of a yurt with a bunch of Mongols standing outside waving at the camera. So tell me all about your trip to Mongolia, I said — a question I don’t think she’d been asked since she hung it on the wall.

She explained the trip was part of her postgrad research, sampling DNA of Mongols and comparing it to the DNA of native Americans, thought to be their descendants, via the Bering land bridge, etc. etc. She said the genetic evidence in humans was strong but imperfect, but they had a much closer link between another species — dogs. The canine companions of Mongols today are closely related to skeletons found in the desert southwest. It was the best time I’ve had talking to a doctor since my family practitioner told me about going to Woodstock when he was 16.

Anyway, I have a date with the Gobi Desert. One of these days.

So, bloggage:

Whoever said women over 40 are better off carrying a little extra weight than a little less must have been thinking about Madonna.

Someone in the comments linked to this fine, year-old blog posting by Tom Watson on Jenna Jameson, and it’s good enough to throw back out front as food for thought.

And now I must change to my sweatpants, wash the mascara down the drain, take up my laptop in a place where the wireless signal is good and…go to work. Have a swell weekend.

Posted at 8:48 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

15 responses to “The road not taken.”

  1. basset said on February 10, 2006 at 12:46 am

    neither Jenna nor Madonna do anything for me. I mean… you don’t know where that’s BEEN.

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  2. Carmella said on February 10, 2006 at 6:50 am

    I’ll bet Mitch was your family practitioner! Gosh…I thought Madonna’s body looked great…! I don’t care for her clothes…or her hair…(or her ‘tude) but she looked FIT!

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  3. Dorothy said on February 10, 2006 at 8:23 am

    Madonna’s got muscles but she looks like she’s wasting away. I saw a woman at the Sportsclub last Friday who had to be 70 if she was a day, and her body looked the same. She had definition to her muscles, but she looked sickly since she was so unbelievably thin.

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  4. Maryo said on February 10, 2006 at 11:32 am

    I used to love Madonna, in all of her different incarnations (my favorite was the mid-to-late-’80s “True Love” stage, but maybe that’s just me remembering those great days when I was that young, too). Now, she just looks pathetic.

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  5. mary said on February 10, 2006 at 11:41 am

    I sell clothing made for 20 year olds to 40+ year olds over in the 200 dollar jeans department all the time, and I’ve never seen anyone in that age group look good, good bod or not. They just look desperate.
    I didn’t see the part of the grammys when M performed, but I saw her on Ellen DeGeneres while making dinner yesterday. It had been taped at the grammys. What was M wearing? It looked like a shiny 80s leotard thingie with some of those spanx footless pantyhose. Was she actually wearing pantyhose that only came down to her knees?

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  6. nancy said on February 10, 2006 at 11:54 am

    I’ve never been a huge Madge fan. I can give her credit for brains and a lot of other things, but the whole package seemed to hide — not very well — the soul of a cash register. She only seems “edgy” to people who have never been to the edge, or even read a magazine article about it.

    She’s the perfect example of the Law of Joe Tex: You got to use what you got to get what you need. She is only pretty in patches, doesn’t have much of a voice — not much to work with there. But she brings a certain iron discipline to bear on the situation and makes it work.

    Too bad she couldn’t make the transition to acting, which would have freed her from this Grammy nonsense a long time ago. But as someone once observed, she’s the world’s worst actress because she’s the world’s biggest ego. She literally cannot imagine what it would be like to be someone else, and so can’t even make a passable imitation of occupying another’s shoes. Life is an ironic bitch sometimes, eh Madge?

    That said, I have a few of her singles on my iPod. I always thought “Express Yourself” was a good pop song, and I like “Ray of Light” for the Microsoft commercial it is.

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  7. brian stouder said on February 10, 2006 at 12:08 pm

    Now there’s an interesting thought – good pop singles by groups or artists we don’t otherwise like much at all.

    Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots. I actually bought the album containing that one, since I really liked the tune – and hadn’t heard anything else of theirs on the radio……and then I learned why I never heard anything else of theirs on the radio!

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  8. Maryo said on February 10, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    On further reflection, though, I must say that aging can be difficult no matter what. We were flipping mindlessly through the channels the other night and I gasped when I saw Kathleen Turner guest-starring on Law & Order. I’m definitely of the we-must-age-gracefully-no-matter-what viewpoint, whether I’ve put 20 or more pounds on since the ’80s or not (and I have, but you tell me when I have the time between full time job, three kids and assorted other duties to work out regularly). I guess I’ve just been conditioned to see everyone in Hollywood remain skinny and youthful looking, and to be surprised when they’re not.

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  9. Nance said on February 10, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    Well, just to make you feel REALLY REALLY BAD, I do know this about Kathleen Turner: She has rheumatoid arthritis, and either lives on or goes on and off of steroids to keep it under control. Steroids of course give you the moon face, the weight gain and the rest of it.

    It’s why Jerry Lewis has looked so bloated the last few telethons, as well.

    Don’t be too embarrassed; I know someone in F.W. who had a “weight-loss ministry,” and would send letters offering her services to public people who were plumpers. When a certain well-known county official started turning up looking like the Michelin man, she fired one off to him, only to get the same explanation. Oops.

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  10. mary said on February 10, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    In Kathleen’s defense, she’s taking steroids for some chronic ailment.

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  11. Dorothy said on February 10, 2006 at 1:57 pm

    One of my sisters has sarcoidosis, among other health problems, and goes on steroids from time to time. She’s the prettiest one in the family but when I saw her a few years ago while she was being medicated at that time, I hardly recognized her.

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  12. brian stouder said on February 10, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    President Kennedy in some pictures has the wide face thing going – and in others looks almost scrawny. I have read that he also took steroids (amongst other things) for his Addison’s disease

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  13. Danny said on February 10, 2006 at 2:52 pm

    I have always been mystified by the success of Madonna, but coming from and avid Yes fan, that is not surprising. Actually, it is kinda a joke. Sure I love Yes, but I listen to and love a lot of different artists and genres. Good pop is great music too. Madonna has just never produced anything that I want to listen to.

    Plus her and her ilk are somewhat personally responsible for the current state of crappy music. MTV, Britney and all the pop-tarts, bean-counters and music execs with no idea about music. They are all clueless.

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  14. Susan Gillie said on February 11, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    There’s hope, we can age gracefully.

    Cyndi Lauper was on TV recently and looks great. She’s taken the ’80’s look and smoothed it out.

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  15. brian stouder said on February 12, 2006 at 4:59 pm

    Cyndie is hot!

    She has the most indispensible thing for hotness – comfort within her own skin

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