Anyone who is anyone knows this is the solstice, that point in the year when things start going downhill. In other words things, whatever they are, were more or less on the ascendant until now. And these days, in these United States, the question of course involves responsibility. Who fucked things up? The year was going quite nicely, thank you very much, until someone screwed us royally. Who that someone is and what we are going to do about it remains to be seen. Death is not too good for them, that much is clear.

Where was I?

Oh, yes, at that tipping point, that time in the year when everything begins to tilt in a different direction. And it is not a good direction, this shortening of days and of tempers. Of course, there is an antidote. And I am taking it. In fact, Jane and I are taking it together. The only known antidote to shorter days is lengthened days. And with things going south, we are going north. North to Alaska, to quote a famous song.

I confess to some misgivings. What on earth is this going to be like? In particular, what is it going to be like bobbing northward on the ironically named Pacific with 2000 of my closest friends? Yes, we are cruising. And despite some experience with shipboard life, this is my actual first cruise.

After all, the Queen Mary II has taken me across the Atlantic a few times. But there was no cruising, no dropping anchor here, then heading there. You are out to sea for a week or so, then you are in port. And that’s it. No nuance. No variation. Point-to-point. That is the point.

Of course there is always the journey of the mind. And here one must thank Michael Chabon. Sitka, Alaska, is doubtless a town not unlike many others in that state. But in the marvelously entertaining “Yiddish Policemen’s Union” it is a dark and incomparably cold place full of exiled Jews. The latter having fled there after the early collapse of Israel. A fractured history, well known to be inaccurate, but hugely diverting. Sorry, that is the only Sitka I know. The other, the one with the cruise port dock, well it simply can’t be as interesting.

But it will be one thing…light. And much longer. Thus, our cruise. Stay tuned.

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