Friday, December 30, 2005

Travel Notes - Part 1

Not being lucky enough to have been born and raised in some small, idyllic mountain town or perhaps on Bermuda, the hejira I undertook this holiday season was to the slightly downtrodden but we-always-have-time-to-love-the-Steelers city of Pittsburgh, birthplace (or spawning ground) of yours truly.

Ever the economizer, I saved some moolah by traveling on Christmas morning AND by traveling through Dulles. I'm never thrilled to either add time to a trip or spend any time at all in the vicinity of Washington DC (unless said time is spent wandering the magnificent National Gallery), but hey, times are tough and we all gots to save some bucks. If I was going to have to pay a catsitter a hundy to watch the beasts for 4 days, I'd have to save the money somewhere.

I know, I know. There are some pious holy joes out there will say that I took the Christ out of Christmas by traveling on His birthday. But hell, even the Three Wise Men didn't get there until January 6th, so like millions of other travelers they must have been stuck at O'Hare on the actual day. And frankly, given the bumpiness upon takeoff from LaGuardia, I actually DID put the "Christ!" back in Christmas. (I consider it my own personal contribution to Bill O'Reilly's pet cause). A side note on that very subject -- does anyone else find it ironic that the very people who keep yammering about some imagined "War on Christmas" are the very ones whose mega-churches found it appropriate to cancel church on Christmas day? Ya know, people, walk your talk. If you're so concerned about keeping Christ in Christmas, then get your fat self-righteous asses into church and pay him some respect on his damn birthday! What's that smell? I don't think it's Christmas goose -- mmmmm, smells like the ripe aroma of some good old fashioned HY-pocrisy!

But I digress.

One of the benefits of spending Christmas day rediscovering the splendor of various airport concourses on the east coast is that it's a fairly light travel day. I was out my door and stepping into the grim confines of LaGuardia within 15 minutes, but then found myself with oodles of time to kill. So what else is new.... there must be a subconscious part of me that is still like dear old Dad, who, if he has a flight at 6:00, will arrive at the airport around lunchtime. What is a girl to do then? Why, shop, of course! My internal homing beacon took me directly to the bookstore at LGA, where I loaded up on the Sunday Times, a book called "The 5 Unanswered Questions about 9/11," and my very first sudoku book. (more on that later, fyi, I am writing this from a special sudoku rehab). Paying by credit card, I'm pretty sure my purchases probably put me on a Homeland Security watchlist.

With just the right amount of city-slickerism and New York snobbery, when I'm traveling, I like to sit in airports and quietly nurture my judgements about all the poor folk who don't have the good fortune or good sense to live in New York City. I love to travel alone, but I also happen to have a tremendously overactive brain that needs to be amused like a 5-year-old with ADD. So instead of offering comical running commentary to a travel companion (I am viciously hilarious when in a concourse full of people I will never see again), I have it running in my head. I'm that person you've seen in the airport who looks at you intently, then bends over a notebook and writes furiously and with a self-satisfied smirk.

I also like to make up t-shirt slogans while I'm doing all this. It keeps the ADD at bay. This trip's T-Shirts:

"I support the troops, but Dick Cheney can go fuck himself."
"Proud member of the northeast liberal elite."
"Your nearest exit may be behind you."

(The last is my personal favorite, it has a koan-like quality to it. I could imagine Miyagi-san saying it to Ralph Macchio.)

First stop, Washington Dulles. I'm sure this is the least original observation anyone has ever made, but it should just be called Washington DULL. My observation about most of the folks trundling around in Dulles? My God, that is a city full of peole with absolutely no sense of style. Most of the women were wearing sweaters with some sort of gelt on it -- we're talking jingle bells sewn onto the front of the sweaters, or some other shiny dangly thing. Maybe they all received a BeDazzler some long ago Christmas. You know, Washington DC has some astonishing architecture, one of the finest art collections on the planet, and a lot of really amazing memorials and history. In fact, if it wasn't for the people who live there, DC could even be cool. But alas, it is instead a cultural backwater, made even more backward by the current inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (you know, that Northeastern blueblood masquerading aggressively as a good ole boy). I was asked to "volunteer" my seat in exchange for a free ticket and a guaranteed seat on the next flight to Pittsburgh, but as it would have required me to spend another 4 hours breathing the same air that W and Cheney do, I took a pass.

Then it was on to Pittsburgh and its ginormous airport. Did you know there is a Calder sculpture hanging right there in the main terminal? I didn't, and I've passed through the place a score of times. But my favorite thing is the little display on one of the concourses that holds Mr. Rogers' sneakers, sweater, and the original handwritten script of his first show.

Next: Welcome to Pittsburgh, where mullets are worn without irony, taking care of mom, getting sucked into Gilmore Girls, and sudoku madness!


At 1/02/2006 11:19 PM, Blogger Anocsanamun said...

i love the word GINORMOUS - go to cafepress and make those t-shirts - I want to get one in black with white letters.

XO Janey -we got cocktails to drink soon


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