Tag Archives: travel

in which i visit an imagined place

My first night in Geneva, I was lying in a stranger’s bedroom, reading Mary Shelley on my phone, and hovering on the edges of a panic attack. Golden light from the streetlamps filtered in through the open window. Somewhere down the road, the tram bell rang.

Maybe I should explain.

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First of all, in spite of how it sounds, I was not having a one-night-stand with a handsome Swiss cheesemaker. I was in a stranger’s bedroom because Marx and I were doing Switzerland cheap, so we were staying with a woman who we found on a couch surfing website. She was an environmentalist, spoke little English, and offered us a variety of extravagant teas1.

I was reading History of a Six Weeks Tour by Mary Shelley on my phone because I have so far only been able to find it online, and this was our first real wifi in a while. The book is a compilation of letters written between Mary Shelley, her husband, and their friends while the pair was living abroad, including in Geneva, which is where she wrote Frankenstein.

Which is why we were in Geneva. Oh yes, the panic. My novel—the one that comes out next year, and is a reimagining of Frankenstein, if you’re new here—is set there.

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So here I was, in a stranger’s bedroom, trying to fall asleep reading, waiting for morning so I could walk through a place that had up until this moment only existed in my head.

Visiting Geneva felt like coming to an imagined place, like Narnia or Gondor, or visiting my own thoughts. Geneva was the first place I had ever written about that I hadn’t visited. Sure, I spent hours on Google maps, read books—of both the historical and the vacation-prep variety—along with every travel blog and photo essay and newspaper article about Geneva I could find.

But I hadn’t been there. And being there is something totally different.

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I’m a very setting-heavy writer. The word that most frequently gets tossed around to describe my writing is atmospheric, and I am one-hundred percent okay with that. I love travel. I love place. I’ve had whole novels spring out of places I’ve visited2. But atmosphere is more than just streets and geography and place names. It’s a feeling, and that’s why I love traveling—to feel a place.

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So what if I got out in Geneva and realized that I got had got that feeling wrong? As soon as I visited, there would be a right and wrong answer to what I had written. Maybe this was a terrible mistake, I thought. I almost woke Marx up right then and asked her if we could maybe just hang out at the airport for the next three days until our flight left. I’m a rational human being.

But I didn’t. The next morning, we woke up and set out to explore Geneva.

Mary Shelley did not like Geneva. When you read her letters, she goes on and on about how much she loves the countryside, and the Alps, and even the wildlife3, but when she writes about Geneva itself, she sounds sort of grumbly and unhappy. She thought the buildings were too high, too ugly. She hated that the guards at the city gates couldn’t be bribed into letting you into the city past ten pm. “There is nothing… in [Geneva],” she writes, “that can repay you for the trouble of walking over its rough stones.”

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On the afternoon of our first day in the city, I left Marx by a fountain on the edge of the old town and went wandering on my own, thinking about what Mary had written, and what I had written, and the things we had both imagined happening on these streets, and mostly how much I liked Geneva. I liked the rough cobblestones and the hills. I liked the silt-colored buildings that made the streets into hallways. I liked the fountains, and the window boxes, and the wind off the lake. I liked the sound of people speaking French. I liked the Alps in the distance, and the foothills, and the vineyards that climbed up them.

Screw you, Mary Shelley. I liked Geneva.

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So I walked the streets of Mary’s book, and my book–the one big thing we shared–and thought about what we didn’t share, and the filters though which we saw this city. There’s the space between us–both the time, and the distance, and places we’d come from. The experiences we’d had. Who we were and where we were and what we were doing there and why. All the things we’d done and the things we hadn’t and all the things that made this city different for the pair of us.

This city existed in both of our heads. It was both of our imagined places4.

 

  1. We declined.
  2. Including large parts of this novel, which came from my Christmas market trip with Magwitch two years ago.
  3. One of my favorite lines from the letters is, Did I tell you there are wolves among these mountains? Someday I plan to analyze the crap out of that line, and make it into some poetic metaphor that hipsters will Photoshop overtop of their filtered Instagram landscapes.
  4. Also we found this steampunk carousel and I loved it and it didn’t fit anywhere in the post, so I’m just going to stick it here instead. DSC_1127
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in which I travel to Switzerland

Hullo, I have returned! Did you miss me? Or maybe the more appropriate question should be, did you notice I was gone?

If you follow me on any other social media or know me at all in real life, you will recall that I spent that last few weeks of blissful Alpine joy in Switzerland.

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My long-suffering roommate Marx and I wanted to celebrate the completion of our respective graduate degrees, and Marx had some well-placed connections to free lodging there so we ended up spending a couple of weeks traveling from one end of the country to the other.

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Switzerland is great, my friends—natural, rustic beauty like you can’t process and everything’s so freaking quaint it looks like Disneyland, but real!—but more than that, traveling is great. I haven’t been on a trip like this, with just me and a passport and a backpack—since I lived in England. And it reminded me how utterly sensational it is to go somewhere new and experience new places and people who don’t speak the same language as you or share the same culture or life experiences or view from their backdoor.

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I chose this picture with me in it just to prove I did not Google “Gorgeous pictures of Switzerland” and then paste them here.

Travel wrap up blogs are always the hardest for me to write. Mostly because traveling is a tremendous experience. It fills you up and overwhelms you with the vastness of everything. There should be a million things to say, but instead I sit down to write and all I can think to say about Switzerland is the same things I was saying while I was there, which can mostly be summarized as “HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THOSE MOUNTAINS. LOOK AT MORE MOUNTAINS! AND THAT COW IS WEARING A BELL!”

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So Switzerland. It was sensational. We saw Zurich, Lucerne, Berne, Gruyere, Schynige Platte, Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Montreux, Laussane, Geneva1, and a host of other peaks, valleys, and scenic overlooks in between. Lots of hiking. Lots of train and cable car and cogwheel railroad riding. Lots of cheese and chocolate eating. Lots of ogling the Alps and meandering through countryside and struggling to process the beauty and listening to the cows jingle like wind chimes.

And now we return to reality2.

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  1. Stay tuned for a coming photo essay/sort of normal essay/basically a blog post about Geneva, which is the city where my novel is set and where Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, the book upon which mine is based.
  2. Sorry for all the pictures3.
  3. I am not sorry.
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in which I take a trip

This past week was very likely the last spring break I am ever going to have. In a little over a month I will become a master and my seventeen years of school will end1. And in the real world, you don’t really get a spring break.

So the family decided to do something proper to mark this rite of passage, namely head down to southern Utah for as close as we ever come to doing a road trip2. It was really a thoroughly marvelous vacation. I turned my brain and my internet off for six days and basked in natural beauty and sunshine, both a far cry from the polar vortex of a city I’m currently living in.

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Southern Utah is very special to me. We used to go there a lot when I was a kid, and I never feel so connected to my heritage as when I’m down among the red rock canyons. I love it so much I even set my ill-fated Mormon hook-handed zombie hunter novel down there (you remember that monstrosity, don’t you?). It feels strangely spiritual to me, like a sacred and secret place, though it’s hardly either of those things. 

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I will perhaps have other stories from this trip to share later in the week, but right now I’m am trying to recover from turning my brain off for six days and get everything in order before it all starts back up again tomorrow. So while you’re waiting, enjoy the view.

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  1. NO! NO! NO! PANIC PANIC PANIC!
  2. None of us are particularly fond of cars, small spaces, or spending long periods of time in small spaces with each other.
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in which December comes and goes

Every day for the past month, I have woken up with the same thought: Today will be the day I update my blog.

But that didn’t happen. December is not a great month for blogging. December’s not a great month for doing anything other than eating yourself sick and pulling your hair out over Christmas gifts.

So here’s a super quick recap of some of the things I did in December that did not involve binge eating or stress shopping:

–The MT and I explored Boston together. And let me tell you, you have not explored Boston until you have explored it with the MT.

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Seriously, friends. It was a time. We committed treason (see above), skated in a cemetery, wrote on museum walls, went to a Speakeasy, ate food in weird places,  wore strange hats, and were transcendental. Among other activities.

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–Flew home and celebrated Christmas with my family in Utah. Which included my mom giving us a knitted sorting hat from Harry Potter. We also got a Darth Vader voice changer mask. Not knitted.

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–Blind taste tested 13 sugar cookies on a quest to find the most delicious sugar cookie in the Salt Lake Valley.

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Seriously, it was a blind taste test. As in we were blind folded.

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The best sugar cookie in Utah, in case you were wondering, can be found at One Smart Cookie.

–Attended a Renaissance-themed murder mystery party dressed as Shakespeare.

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The  MT also came along, dressed as an Irish mercenary/Hamlet/Ronan Lynch.

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–Ate at my favorite Utah restaurant, Cafe Rio, multiple times with 14, fresh from her Norwegian adventure. No picture. Because I don’t believe in taking pictures of your food.

–On that subject, I ate too much good food.

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This is one of many examples. Resisting posting all of them.

–Read some great books out loud with the MT. Then made sweaters based on them, a picture of which was then retweeted by the author of said books. (MY LIFE IS NOT SUPER EXCITING, OKAY!? THESE ARE THE BIG MOMENTS OF MY LIFE!)

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–Saw friends.

–Saw my dog.

–Saw my mom holding a bowl for water so my dog would be more comfortable when she drinks.

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–Was given a Norwegian Christmas troll to protect me. I think he’s actually meant to cause mischief, but he loves me, and so I have trained him to be my guardian.

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His name is Chainsaw.

–Was given some excellent fan art by the MT. Bonus points if you can name either of these characters. 

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And I think that was December. I’m gonna be better about blogging from here on out. I made a pact with myself. I said, “Self, you should be better about blogging.” So that’s gonna happen. I’m even gonna go out of my way to do strange things that will result in good stories for the blog.

It’ll happen. Just wait. You’ll see.

Happy 2014.

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in which I have a perfect weekend

Oh look, I have a blog!

I forgot I have a blog. As you might have noticed. Because it’s been a while since I posted.

The weeks since the return to Boston have been good but busy, hence the lack of blogging. I started school, started a new job, started working on my thesis1 with my advisor, celebrated a birthday, went to an epic twenties murder mystery party for said birthday.

And then this past weekend, I went to New York.

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The New York trip has been in the works for a while. It was originally meant to include a bunch of Simmons friends, but one by one they dropped out, like we were touring Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. In the end, it was just me and a friend of mine who I don’t think has appeared on the blog before, so let’s call her Milton.

Milton and I went to New York this weekend with an agenda that included various children’s lit shenanigans. So I knew it was going to be great.  I did not realize it was going to be the Most Perfect Weekend Ever.

Here are the three reasons my weekend in New York was the Most Perfect Weekend Ever:

1. The Children’s Literature

The primary reason behind this trip was going to the New York Public Library exhibit on children’s literature. Which was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Not only were the artifacts on display super gorgeous2, Milton and I kept geeking out about beautiful the exhibit itself was. You could tell it was created with a lot of love and care by people who really love children’s books. There was a tower of banned books, a recreation of the room from Goodnight Moon, and even a giant wild thing!

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We also got to attend the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is the largest literary festival in New York and one of the largest in the US. It was amazing. We got to hear amazing authors talk, including David Levithan, Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Katherine Applegate, and Jasper Fforde. Of course, I got to bulk up my signed books collection and just sort of bask in the awesomeness of so many awesome and creative people in the same place.

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2. The Theater

I saw two shows this weekend. First was Once, which has been playing for a while but I hadn’t seen until this weekend. I…liked it with reservations. It had some issues, but overall was still a beautiful and moving theatrical experience. I had very good seats that were purchased for much cheaper because they were last minute, and, as I do almost every time I’m at a show of that caliber, I just felt lucky to be there.

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Then Milton and I saw Matilda, which I have been waiting to see for years, ever since it opened at the RSC just after I left England. I am an avid fan of the novel on which it is based, and just a great lover of Roald Dahl in general. This musical was made for me. Tickets right now are bleeding expensive and hard to come by, so this took a bit of planning ahead of time to see3. And in spite of that, we were still in the nethermost regions of the topmost balcony. It sort of felt like watching the show from a low-flying airplane. But none of the mattered because OMG MATILDA!

I have seen a lot of theater over the course of my life. Matilda is easily in my top five4. Maybe top three. Just absolutely the most beautiful theatrical experience ever. I was definitely predisposed to like this show as it is a fusion of the two things I love most in the world, theater and children’s literature5. But seriously, it was just sensational. Blew my mind. Loved every minute.

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3. The Perfect Timing

Something about this weekend just made everything go right. Little things, like me coming out of the subway right at the same time as Ariel, with whom I was again lodging, so I didn’t have to wander around Brooklyn in the dark. Having the exact right amount of money on my metrocard. The fact that twice Milton and I had very specific cravings and they both manifested within minutes6. Weird things like that just went right. It’s amazing for a trip to go off without a hitch, and this one actually went off better than that. It didn’t just go as anticipated, it went better.

It was also perfectly timed because the last month has been sort of rough. Starting the new job has been hard and exhausting, working on my thesis has been hard and exhausting, working on the other project with my agent has been emotionally draining, and just moving in general and readjusting to Boston has left me beat. I really needed a win this weekend. I really needed a perfect weekend.

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  1. Which one minute is giving me writer’s high and the next makes me want to Sherlock-style throw myself off a building.
  2. Secret Garden manuscript pages! PL Travers’s umbrella! Original illustrations from Wizard of Oz and Alice in Wonderland!
  3. And a small nest egg.
  4. Hamlet at the National Theater, Pippin at ART, Eastland at LookingGlass, and Romeo and Juliet at the RSC. If you were interested.
  5. And it even falls in that weirdly specific category of children’s lit and theater I like, which is dark whimsy.
  6. Number One: “I want frozen yogurt…oh look, there’s a woman handing out coupons for Orange Leaf.” Number two: “I want Panera French onion soup…oh look, there’s a Panera on the next block.”
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in which I travel down the Rhine

Do you remember the scene in Titanic where Leonardo DiCaprio is invited to have dinner with the rich people and even though he is dressed up in his little tuxedo and has his hair combed all fancy, he so clearly does not belong amongst them?

Well that was me. The entire time I was in Europe1.

It was awesome.

When my benefactor Magwitch first approached me with the proposition of a Rhine river trip over Christmas, I didn’t register just how fancy we were going to be traveling. I knew Magwitch is well off and liked to travel in some degree of luxury, but I guess I didn’t register just how stark the contrast of this maids-and-caviar lifestyle would be to the microwave meals and public transport I left back in Boston. It was also extremely different from my previous Europe travels, since I previously traversed the continent with only a backpack and a frequent hosteler card. Needless to say, I felt a little out of place. In the best way possible. The guilt-free living way outside your means way.

Our trip was a river cruise of the Christmas markets of Europe. The boat departed from Switzerland, then climbed northward through the Alsace region of France, into and through Germany, and then finished in the Netherlands. The Rhine, in winter, is blanketed in mist, like the moorish setting of a Gothic Victorian novel. Our skies were mostly grey, and there was a brief misty rain on occasion, but overall, the weather was just the right sort of gloomy. With the Christmas spirit on top of the wintry weather, it was delightful.

I have dozens of stories from the trip, but I will refrain from sharing them all for fear or boring you with excessive word count. Here are some pictures and anecdotes for your enjoyment/jealousy.

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The Christmas markets that lined the Rhine were a whole new level of Christmasyness for me. I have never experienced this level of decoration before. Half-timbered houses draped in holly, garlands, ribbons, bows. Plus the random assorted teddy bear and marionettes strung in the windows.

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After a few days of going from Switzerland to France to Germany and back to France, I was so confused what country I was in and what language was being spoke that, when a woman in a shop handed me my change, I said, “Gracias,” without even thinking, and then walked away.

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The Christmas markets all sell gluhwein, which is wasil mixed with wine. It is also alcoholic, meaning I did not partake. However, Magwitch heard through the grapevine that some stands sold non-alcoholic gluhwein. Excited, I inquired at the next market, only to learn that non-alocholic gluhwein is called “kinderpunch.” Which was humiliating. Also delicious.

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I climbed every hill, castle, and bell tower I could. I love views.

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I rode these cable cars from the city Koblenz across the Rhine River to a mountain top fortress. Unfortunately, I know nothing about said fortress, because all of the signs once we got there were in German.

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The above clock is my new favorite clock of all time. The pendulum is attached to the man’s eyes, so as the clock ticks, the eyes move back and forth. It is hella creepy/awesome.

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I was in Cologne on December 21, aka the day the Mayans said the world was going to end. It obviously did not, but I had a genuine moment of panic where I heard an unidentified crash, felt the bridge beneath me begin to shake (as a result of a passing train, though I did not know that then) and thought the world was actually ending.

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One of our better tours included a tour guide who told us “That cathedral there includes a very famous statue of Karl Marx.” Where we all started muttering about how weird it is that a church would have a statue of Karl Marx. The tour guide quickly amended, “Sorry, not Karl Marx—it’s Martin Luther.”

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We saw a team of folk dancers perform in Nijmegen. They performed several dances from all over the world, then ended with a “traditional folk dance from North America”:  Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.

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Also, the entire crew of the boat was eastern European, which made it feel vaguely like the ship was manned by vampires.

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It’s Magwitch and me!

I really love Europe so much. I love the antiquity of it, the feel of cobblestones under your feet. I love eating in restaurants that are older than my country. I love seeing art by masters that was created before the printing press and has outlasted the memories of the people who created it and the ideals that they praised. I love cathedral spires silhouetted against grey skies, the smell of baguettes and macaroons, and the way the weak sunlight catches the canals. I love meeting new people, and hearing new stories, and seeing the way life moves in a sphere that is not my own.

This world is beautiful and amazing. I am constantly reminded how grateful I am to be a part of it.

  1. This really was me. Especially the part where he takes an uncouthly large bite of roll.
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in which I leave on vacation

­­­­I had not truly experienced grad school until these past five days, which I have spent holed up in a friend’s apartment writing until my fingers bled and guzzling diet coke until my stomach ulcered. Paper after paper about book after book1. All so that tomorrow, I can gallivant off to Switzerland without looking back.

Why yes, that Switzerland.

A generous family friend is kindly taking me on a much needed post-first term of grad school excursion to Europe, where we shall work our way up the Rhine River, through France, Germany, and the Netherlands for two weeks, partaking in Christmas festivities and eating lots of delicious unhealthy food.

I just turned in my last paper, meaning there is only twenty-four hours standing between me and European bliss.

So you may not be hearing much from me in the next two weeks. First because my eyes are bleeding after staring at a computer screen for too long. Second because I can no longer think straight after the soul sucking papers I had to write2. Third because I will be in Europe, basking in the awesome.

To my friends who are students – enjoy your finals. To my friends who are not students – enjoy not having finals. I’ll see you all in a few weeks.

  1. Also a brief period where I had to write and illustrate my own picture book.
  2. I’m writing a Marxist critique of Stargirl. Yeah.
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in which i have a perfect saturday

Yet again I find myself trying to blog while watching Doctor Who. I’m sensing a theme in my life.

So you know how sports players have streaks? I actually don’t know anything about this, because I don’t watch sports, but I’ve heard that it happens, and have a general understanding of what it means.

I feel as though I am currently in the middle of a streak. A streak of awesome days. Because I’m going on my fourth awesome day in a row. From Florence+The Machine on Friday night to today, where I was just on fire, things have just been going great. Let’stake a look right in the middle of my streak, and talk about Saturday.

Because Saturday was kind of awesome. In fact, it was the kind of awesome Saturday that ruins every other Saturday for you.

Let’s go through the day1, shall we?

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We began the day at Walden Pond, one of the most serene and beautiful places I’ve ever been. It is the sort of place that begs to have books written on its shores. 

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After a brief picnic in Concord3, our pilgrimage continued at Ralph Waldo Emerson’s house, where I found myself basking in the shade of a large oak tree, writing in my journal, eating grapes off an arbor built by Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalism like a boss.

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And just a short jaunt down the road, all my dreams came true when we visited the Louisa May Alcott Orchard House. Little Women was a book I came to relatively late in life4, but it still had a huge impact on me, and remains one of my great loves in literature. I am also convinced that I am a modern-day incarnation of Jo March, but that’s a whole other conversation. Orchard House was more than just delightful, it was also surprisingly inspirational. The Alcotts were big on following dreams and supporting each other. Also Mr. Alcott basically invented recess. Which is just one more reason to love that family.

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We finished the day with a stop at North Bridge, the site of one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. We’ve previously talked about how much I love the Revolutionary War (also how sexy it was), and frankly, the more battlefields I actually walk across, the more I am aware of the reality of it. When you study history, it is so easy to think of everything in terms of story rather than as things that actually happened. Visiting the sites always makes me feel much more tuned in to the lived experience of historical events.

Oh. And then we got ice cream at Kimball Farms. Which I’m convinced is the ice cream served in heaven. It could make even the worst days awesome. It was an extra dose of awesome on  an already exceptional day.

  1. Primarily in photographs, because I have awesome photographs and because I’ve written so many words this week I just can’t think about writing any more right now2.
  2. Oh wait, I still have to.
  3. Where I ate a sandwich that I’m fairly certain weighed as much as a newborn child. It was uber large.
  4. Okay, I was like fifteen, so not that long ago.
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in which i am surrounded by corn and stillness

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A long time ago, I saw a play with my family called “The Curious Savage1.” You might have heard of it, because it’s pretty great and mildly well known. I don’t actually remember much about the play itself, other than generally enjoying it, and this one particularly line, which has been quoted in my family ever since;

“People say ‘I love you’ all the time – when they say, ‘Take an umbrella, it’s raining,’ or ‘Hurry back,’ or even ‘Watch out, you’ll break your neck.’ There are hundreds of ways of wording it — you just have to listen for it.”

This past weekend, I was told “I love you” more times than I could count.

Do you need an extra blanket on the bed, my grandma wants to know.

Did you have enough to eat, my uncle asks after every meal.

You can pick what we watch2, my aunt tells me.

We worry when you take the four-wheeler out, says grandma.

Will you play goblins with me, begs my seven-year-old cousin3.

If you remember from the last time we spoke, I spent this past weekend at my grandparent’s farm in rural Iowa. We did the math, and discovered that I haven’t been there since 2003. And yet, it was like I never left. Sure, the kids are all a foot taller, the adults are all a little paunchier, and there’s new tile in the bathroom, but the things that matter, like the underlying theme of every interaction I have with my family, hasn’t changed.

The Iowa where my grandparent’s farm is located is about as far from a Chicago atmosphere as you can get. It’s so remote that the silence rings4. My dad, who grew up there, went to a one room school house5, and lived his first eighteen years without running water. When my grandma and I were driving to the cemetery, we passed a guy on a motorcycle. As we drove away, my grandma commented, “He must have been from out of town – he didn’t wave.”

And, while I love living in a city that never stops moving, it was nice to be part of stillness for a few days. To have a horizon with a vanishing point. To listen to the corn whisper.

To be surrounded by people who love you, even if they don’t always know how to say it. They don’t have to.

Passing around polaroids and telling stories on the living room floor says it all.

  1. Yes, I get it, pretty much every blog post so far is based upon unoriginal thought, or references some play or book or something. I promise I am capable of coming up with my own ideas!
  2. I chose Masterpiece Mystery, the best hour and a half of television every week. The program this week may have been the least frightening police drama in the history of police dramas and yet it still scared me to the point of sleeping with the light on.
  3. She also told me, when I asked her where she wanted to run away to, “Chicago to be with you!” And I just about died of cuteness.
  4. And, as it occurred to me after watching the aforementioned unscary British police show, it is the kind of remote that is the ideal setting for a horror film.
  5. Not a joke.  A straight-up Little House on the Prairie style one room school house. I visited it on Sunday, since it’s now a museum. It looks like this.

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in which i am unsupervised in a Marriott

Hello readers.

Look at yourself, now back to me, now back at yourself, now back to me – I’m on a business trip!

My first genuine, bonafied, cab-rides-and-expensing-receipts business trip! This week, “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” is on the road in Bethesda, Maryland for two live shows on Thursday and Friday. Before today, the closest thing that I have ever come to going on a business trip is organized school trips, and business tripping falls in a weird place between school trips and actual vacations. While still traveling with a group like we’re on some bizarre adult field trip, it also includes large periods of unstructured time where I am supposed to be “working from hotel1.”

I still feel too young to have this much unsupervised alone time. And I am definitely not old enough to be trusted to find my own food like some sort of hunter/gatherer, or to make my own work schedule with no one looking over my shoulder. There was an awkward moment at the hotel check in desk where I had never checked into a hotel before and didn’t know what to do, followed by another equally awkward moment where I stood helpless in the lobby and watched everyone go to their respective hotel rooms and the only thing I could think was, “Wait….where are you all going? Don’t leave me!”

So far, this day has been mostly a disaster. Not on a show/job/work level – just on a personal level. In my humble opinion, any day that involves getting up before 8 a.m. is probably going to be a drawn-out trainwreck, so when my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning2, I braced myself for a whole lot of suck.

And the morning was a rough one. Then the cat was annoying, trying to climb in my carry on and eat my toast. Then a stupid movie I bought last night specifically for the purpose of watching on the plane ride today would not download onto my iPod, and I spent $7 for a movie I could not watch. Waiting for it to download also put me ten minutes behind the time I had planned to leave. Then my train card was out of money, and I had to frantically search for a station where I could load it up, which sent me into a profanity-laced panic on the corner of Lake and LaSalle. When I finally did get to the station, I I had no cash. Hello, $1.50 service fee. I would like to punch you in the face. A plague upon all service fees.

And yet, in spite of the setbacks, I still arrived at my scheduled terminal at O’Hare at least forty-five minutes before I needed to be. Curse this pure-bred punctuality that runs in my veins!

But, after all that, we arrived in Bethesda with minimal incident, upon which we took a cab to our hotel, and I was given my own key to my own hotel room. This is the first time in my entire life I have ever had a hotel room to myself – I’m pretty used to hosteling it up, and so accommodations that don’t involve roomfuls of strangers are quite surreal – and with two roommates in a studio apartment the size of my living room back in Chicago, this is likely to be the most privacy I will get all summer3. Part of me feels really liberated – it makes me want to jump on the bed with no pants on. But I wouldn’t do that. Because people on business trips don’t do that sort of stuff.

Which leads us to me. Right now. Working in my hotel room. Feeling like an adult4.

  1. Which, at this particular moment, means emailing reality TV bloggers while “Les Miserables in Concert” on PBS plays in the  background.
  2. Though my alarm did go off at 5:30, I had already been awake for half an hour, because I was desperately paranoid about missing my flight. I also woke up at 4:30…and 4…and 3:30….and 3…..so that plus changing time zones three times in the past five days has wreaked havoc on my internal clock.
  3. It is also the only time I will have a TV this summer. Also taking advantage of that.
  4. On an unrelated and mildly amusing note, the producers and I held a read through in a corridor area off the lobby today. Peter, the host of the show, whose voice is rather iconic to anyone who listens to the radio, was on speaker phone. As we worked, people would pass us by. Occasionally, when Peter was reading one of the segments, people would stare at us with that faint look of recognition in their eye, as though thinking, “That’s weird…that random meeting of people in the hallway leading to my hotel room sounds just like that radio show I sometimes listen to….”
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