Sunday, February 18, 2007

Traveler returns - Book 3

After 2 days of trying to get home, I finally get here at 11pm.
I came back from 68-degrees and sunshine to a winter wonderland, in white-out conditions, roads still not really plowed, after 21 inches fell at the airport in 24 hours, and temperatures in the single digits at best. But I'm home.The grins and hugs that greeted me are worth so much more than being comfortable outdoors with just a single layer of clothing. ...
I'm home with my husband. I'm home with my boys (though this first night home they seem on edge by my return and spend their time scuffling with each other instead of visting me). I'm home.

Book #3 - The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Really enjoyed this, but don't want to share too many details, as it's a potential for bookclub. I will say - it's not the best book to read while away from your spouse. I cried. And I think Nicolas Cage would be awesome as Henry in a movie version. That's who I pictured while reading it.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Traveler note - Valentine's Day

I'm sitting in Chicago O'Hare, waiting for a perpetually delayed flight to bring me home from sunny Southern California to upstate NY in the midst of a blizzard.

I moved from a seat near my gate to a spot on the floor near a power outlet for my laptop, with its miserably short battery life. The spot I chose happened to be exactly where someone spilled coffee earlier and my rear is now soaked. I don't look forward to getting up.

A couple passes in the busy corridor. I notice them because she appears to hang off his arm, while he pulls a rolling bag and awkwardly holds a ripped shopping bag. I wonder why she isn't helping him handle their stuff. Hardly have I noticed them, when she tugs his arm, moves in front of him, and knocks off his hat. Their words don't seem too heated. She speaks emotionally, but not loudly. He says little and tries to escape. He veers one way and then another. She pulls at the rollerbag handle, kicks it around, tries to stop him from escaping her hard words. He ducks and shuffles. I catch "incestuous" repeated a couple of times and wonder if I'm letting my imagination make their story more interesting, or if it's simply far beyond my definition of normal. He moves a small distance and sits against the billboard ads on the wall. She sits next to him. A few minutes later, he gets up and walks out of view. She stays. He returns, pacing back and forth, avoiding her, but not willing to lose her in the crowded, weather-delayed terminal. He moves across to a seat on my side of the corridor, she gets up and sits next to him. He then gets up, walks towards me, apparently checking some gate info, then walks out of sight. Time passes. She still sits alone. The shopping bag is no longer discarded on the floor, she must have retrieved it, but as she scoots down to lay across the row of seats, she seems resigned that he isn't coming back soon. When I finally get up to return to my gate (after checking my pants for coffee), she's still there.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Traveler notes - Book 2

Book #2 - Oracle Night by Paul Auster. I really like the idea of a story in a story in a story, but was a bit disappointed that it wasn't explored further. The power and influence of stories and words is another favorite theme of mine, but I felt this turned awry in Oracle Night when, fearing the power of words, things didn't get said at all. The absence of words was destructive and I felt like Auster didn't see what he had done with that. He put much of the backstory into long footnotes and that was a bit annoying. Still, I did enjoy it.


I am using a bit of time that I would have had before my original flight (now cancelled due to a blizzard) to have my first In-N-Out Burger experience. The regional chain is a mecca – friends of mine who have eaten there make it a destination whenever they’re near one and drool at the thought of travels to a town that might hold one. Mention it in the company of people from the area and their eyes light up. “You have to try. It’s great!” But it’s hard to tell how often they really partake.

I enter the small fast-food place. It looks slightly retro and the kitchen is very open to view. The menu is simple. Burgers with and without cheese, in various numbers of layers, with fries and drinks. I have been informed of “secret” items not listed on the menu, but they seemed more in the realm of a classic Rochester Garbage Plate to me, and weren’t of interest. Everything is customizable, which is good since I don’t normally care for all the stuff piled onto burgers. I order and I’m given a number.

Numbers are called when the order is up. With each order, the counter person calls out “Number [x], please”. Please!

Everything at In-N-Out is made fresh to order. Buns are toasted. Burgers are half wrapped in a napkin and paper wrapper, which makes them easy to eat neatly. Fries are chopped from the potatoes at that moment.

Overall, I found In-N-Out very cool. I wish others would follow the fresh/ polite/ adaptable model. This restaurant was very busy at 3 on a Tuesday – I have to figure they do good business.

Traveler notes


Southern California. Sun. Mountains tumble into the sea. Deep blue seas curdle white where they pound the beaches. Palm trees line the highways, adorn the towns. Scrub brushes and stunted trees crowd with pale pink rock on the hillsides. The air exudes extravagance. The fast lane. The pampered life, even though that’s not universally true. Spending. Opulence. New. Fancy. But not too obnoxious in the areas I visited. Californians are creatures bound to their vehicles, but the vast majority of drivers are very polite. Signaling lane changes. Leaving plenty of room. Letting you in when you need to get into or cross their lane. The highways are laid out clearly and function well, when accidents or other obstacles don’t cause traffic jams.

I don’t get to spend a lot of time absorbing the area. No time to visit the nearby parks or even the beach. Just a taste and then back to the blizzard back home. More importantly, my husband awaits me there. No place can win me over if he is not there. Not matter how much sun it holds in February.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Radio show

Check out this post from Neil Gaiman that links to a radio show from Penn Jillette. Hear it's funny, I'll listen to it later.