No Definite Plans: Eleven Stories of Laughter, Love, Travel
By Townsend 11, Volume 3
Edited by Larry Habegger
Finding Our Way
By Larry Habegger
At our monthly meetings on Townsend Street in San Francisco’s South of Market district, one thing we can always count on is a good laugh. Townsend 11 is a spirited group of writers, with lots to say about writing and travel and the world, and we always have a good time together. So it feels appropriate to lead off our third volume of great stories—No Definite Plans—with a little humor.
Jacqueline Yau’s account of bladder control on an Amazon expedition may have you biting your lip to avoid feeling her pain, but you’ll also learn why flocks of butterflies cluster at special places on the riverbank. Barbara Robertson takes us on a whirlwind tour from San Francisco to Burbank’s animation studios that is one part Pepe Le Pew and many parts Roadrunner after she wakes in bed ten minutes before departure.
Carol Beddo shifts to matters of the heart in 1960s Ethiopia when she discovers the emperor knows about her relationship with a young professional in the emperor’s own circle, and now His Imperial Majesty is curious about her. Jennifer Baljko finds a new sisterhood when she casts off her inhibitions and makes her first foray into a Moroccan hammam (bath house), learning how vital a role this sanctuary plays in the lives of Moroccan women.
The unexpected comes into play when Bill Zarchy and his family take a tour of Chartres Cathedral and witness how a sensitive soul can be overcome with the cathedral’s grandeur, while John Dalton discovers that the cost of high adventure can be a surprising emotional letdown. Dana Hill’s return to South Dakota to help with an annual garage sale brings emotions that fall inside the realm of the expected, but the confirmation she receives from the big weather, big sale, and extended community tells her a more important story about her life.
Then, in this volume we make our first foray into fiction. Bonnie Smetts and Y.J. Zhu traverse the fault lines of cultural change through the eyes of a middle-aged dentist in India and a retired widow in Beijing. And Jacqueline Collins channels Rip Van Winkle in a charming tale that sheds light on why “no problem” can be such a problem.
Spanning the themes in No Definite Plans, from humor to cultural dislocation to the perspective that travel can provide, my story closes out this volume with a self-deprecating look at the reality of aging, gazing across the night sky to a home faraway and the awareness that time never stops in our world.
This volume of stories is at once eclectic, thoughtful, and funny, and I have no doubt that you will be transported, and at least a little entertained.
For more on Townsend 11, get a copy of our first two volumes, No Fixed Destination: Eleven Stories of Life, Love, Travel and No Set Boundaries: Eleven Stories of Life, Travel, Misadventure. My introductions to those books explain who we are, how we got started, and why we call ourselves Townsend 11.
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