Posts in travel
Branson, MO

From my friends at the New York Times, "How to Maintain Sibling Relationships":

The quality of sibling relationships is one of the most important predictors of mental health in old age, according to The American Journal of Psychiatry. Research shows that people who are emotionally close to their siblings have higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. In times of stress or trauma, siblings can provide essential emotional and monetary support.

I read that aloud to my brothers while we sat on the porch drinking beer, and then I asked for some money.

+ READ ’EM & WEEP

Off the cuff

Let's see:

1. I went to Chicago on Tuesday to rent an apartment. And when I say "Chicago," I mean the suburbs, as I am done with big cities for a good long while. My increasingly fragile constitution needs a rest.

1.1. My feelings about the suburbs are thus (this is from Richard Ford in The Sportswriter):

[I]n the two years since my divorce I’ve sometimes walked out in these winding, bowery streets after dark on some ruminative errand or other and looked in at these same houses, windows lit with bronzy cheer, dark cars hove to the curbs, the sound of laughing and glasses tinkling and spirited chatter floating out, and thought to myself: what good rooms these are. What complete life is here, audible. And though I myself wasn’t part of it and wouldn’t much like it if I were, I was stirred to think all of us were living steadfast and accountable lives … but it is for just such uses that suburban streets are ideal, and the only way neighbors here can be neighborly.

You don't have to love the suburbs, but I do. We all will survive.

2. I saw Hamilton yesterday. It really did blow me away.

3. I also saw friends who soon will be friends I see often, again. I'm thrilled by the simple fact of that reality.

4. I got to O'Hare at about 5:30 this morning for my flight back to New York. After sailing through security (TSA Pre√) I purchased an iced coffee at Starbucks and carried it to a small grove of those electronically activated resting tables that decorate the corridors of international travel hubs these days, where I intended to rest. I set the coffee on the table, swung my backpack off my shoulder, and knocked the coffee off the table and onto the floor. All of this happened before I even unwrapped the straw from its paper.

4.1 I sat there for a minute, a little stunned, and then I threw the cup away, cleaned what I could off the floor, and walked back to Starbucks to purchase a second iced coffee.

4.2 I purchased a second iced coffee.

4.2.1 I carried that second iced coffee back to the same grove of tables but selected a different table this time, since the floor was still wet where I had spilled the first one and I did not wish to be identified (although I did notify a cleaning person).

4.2.2 I set that second coffee on that table, swung my backpack off my shoulder, and knocked that second goddamn motherfucking coffee off the table, onto the floor.

4.2.3 I sat there for a minute, a little stunned, and wondered if I was having a stroke.

4.2.4 I was not having a stroke.

4.3 I threw the second cup away, cleaned what I could off the floor, and walked to a different Starbucks to purchase a third iced coffee. I drank it standing up, with my backpack on. I didn't notify anybody of anything.

5. The flight back was not quite full, so there was room in the overhead bin for my Eddie Bauer coat (long, black, quilted, faux-fur-trim hood). We landed a little early but taxied for a while, and by the time the captain pulled the parking brake I was ready to bolt. Isn't everybody? Are you dying to spend more time on an airplane? I stood when released and pulled my coat from the overhead bin, and I checked it: Eddie Bauer, long, black, quilted, faux-fur-trim hood. I had no second bag, so I grabbed my backpack and headed for the taxi queue.

5.1 Whilst standing in the rain in the taxi queue, I pulled on this goddamn motherfucking Eddie Bauer coat and thought, hmmm. It seems to have grown. I reached inside one pocket and thought, hmmm. This is not my lip balm. I reached inside the other pocket and thought well, this is not my crumpled Kleenex.

5.1.1 I stood there for a minute, a little stunned, and wondered if I should steal this stranger's coat that I was already standing outside wearing, in the rain.

5.1.2 I did not steal a stranger's coat.

5.1.3 I walked back into the terminal and dropped off the coat at the United baggage claim lost & found. Then I walked back outside, stood in queue in the rain without a coat, and took a taxi home.

travel, personalKari G Comments
At the weekend: in the burbs

People always ask me when I visit "Chicago" if I actually want to go "into Chicago" and I almost always say of course not. I prefer to leave one large city and immerse myself deep in the burbs of another: it reminds me of many happy former and hopefully future days. Sure the burbs (and America!) are filled with chain stores and strip malls and teens, but there are also good people and wide lawns and cool neighborhoods and tasty tacos and pizza and beer. Obviously, hating on the suburbs or thinking there's only one legitimate place to live a fulfilled life says more about the person doing the hating than it does about any geolocation in question, IMHO. OOO. YMMV! Your life is yours, dummies, live it wherever you want.

So I got to do many of my favorite things in the suburbs this weekend:

  1. Stay in a big hotel room overlooking both a shopping mall and a major expressway
  2. Lie on a hotel room bed for hours drinking free room coffee and enjoying hotel wifi while watching Fixer Upper & Friends & Search Party on an enormous flatscreen TV before meeting my actual friends for actual meals
  3. Drive around the suburbs for hours in a rental car with the air conditioning AND the radio cranked up way past the point of logic and comfort
  4. Purchase a lot of goods I probably don't need but probably won't regret, either, although I just read and loved this whole article about how every single thing you buy is future garbage. I spent my money wisely on quality items/future garbage that will see me through many summers and storms, and most of it was on sale. I'm not really a bargain shopper but this is America! and bargains never hurt.
  5. See actual friends!
  6. Eat in restaurants 3x+ a day
  7. Eat tacos
  8. Shop at Target
  9. Drive thru multiple drive-thrus
  10. See Neil Diamond!
 Sorry my feet look so weird but I did move my bra out of the frame

Sorry my feet look so weird but I did move my bra out of the frame

I drove past no fewer than six of my former apartments Saturday morning while listening to XRT and knocking back a tall Starbucks Cold Brew (which isn't half bad!). Then I met CV for tacos at one of my favorite joints, and we each had two carne asada tacos and Diet Coke and shared the medium guacamole, and it was glorious. A family of four came in while we there and one of the little girls ordered her carne asada tacos with just carne asada, no fixin's, which was a bold move for a child who instantly became my hero, and my heartlight faxed hers a silent salute of respect. CV, who is equally bold but in different ways, ordered hers with onion and cilantro/no sour cream and I ordered mine with everything. We all made choices and walked away winners.

Here's a tally of things I've abandoned in hotel rooms over the years, deliberately:

  1. Bridesmaid dresses
  2. Ill-fitting shoes
  3. Useless, too-small luggage
  4. Shirts
  5. Crushed hats

I realize this is shabby behavior, but I can't feel guilty about everything. Sorry I'm not always the world's best person. I did buy a new hat at Nordstrom (America!'s greatest department store) this weekend: it wasn't cheap but it's woven with SPF 50 AND I can wear it with my glasses on (it's harder to find a brim that accommodates both ears and frames than you might think). HOWEVER, even though this hat strenuously advertises itself as packable, my mom is going to have to ship it to me next weekend, and now I'll hear for the next thousand years how expensive it is to mail a box. Sometimes I suspect that I am her albatross, but we both made our choices and walked away winners.

 Packable my ass

Packable my ass

A weekend in Mystic

I came back with a cold, but I won't hold that against Connecticut. It's possible some New York City supergerms have been lying dormant for months, just waiting for me to cross a neutral border (I could also blame Rhode Island, which I entered in search of beachfront property). And if you're ever going to travel for pizza, Mystic is obviously a solid choice. Just maybe not the day after a snowstorm.

Women’s march on Washington

We stood. We cheered. We shouted and stomped and (eventually) marched. I got lost when I wandered off in search of a porta-potty, thinking, Oh, I'm not an idiot, I'll find my way back again, but I never did. I was swallowed up by the Women of Washington and that was that. I met up with my group again seven hours later, back at the hotel.

The mood in the air was angry but not bitter—more bright and proud and insistent, more refusing to be denied—loud but notably polite. It was a family-friendly affair with occasional salty language. Kids gotta learn it somewhere.

On the train back to Falls Church I sat between two silver-haired lesbians who talked about how long they had been with their partners (in both cases, 20+ years), and how it had felt to finally get married, how they had never believed it would happen.

At dinner we sat next to two women who had driven down from Vermont with their teenage daughters so those teenage daughters could know that it mattered. So they could see that people cared enough to show up for each other. 

It was a necessary day that burned off any lingering despair, an outraged and heartening start to the thousands and thousands of steps that come next.

A week in Virginia

From Jamestown* to the farm** to Yorktown***...

*Home to Captain John Smith, Pocahontas, and a couple of cannibals

**Polyface Farm, "mecca of sustainable agriculture"

***The battle of Yorktown: 1781
"Take the bullets out your gun
(What?)
The bullets out your gun
(What?)
We move under cover and we move as one
Through the night, we have one shot to live another day
We cannot let a stray gunshot give us away
We will fight up close, seize the moment and stay in it
It’s either that or meet the business end of a bayonet
The code word is ‘Rochambeau,’ dig me?
(Rochambeau)
You have your orders now, go man, go!"