Tag Archives: travel

whose bucket list is this? the beauty of doing stuff you didn’t think you could

2 Aug

When I look back at the highlights of this weirdly action-packed summer, I feel a sense of accomplishment from successfully whittling away at a bucket list….

Somebody else’s bucket list.

There is a special sense of satisfaction, however, that comes with doing things you never intended, hoped, or signed up to do, and then doing them well.

If this list looks familiar, please step forward to claim it. It’s mostly done, so, you’re welcome.

#1 Be Allowed into Central America

Every day, people go to fabulous exotic places with backpacks, sarongs, and well-worn passports. Maybe they’re off to climb a peak, or swim to a hotel room that sits on stilts in the middle of a crystal clear lagoon. Maybe they’ll pet a sloth, or drink tea with a prince on the balcony of a palace. No? That’s not what happens immediately upon crossing the border? My obvious international inexperience also extended to not knowing how to change money, or use a passport. I knew how to take a cab – but I didn’t know how to take a cab in Nicaragua.

Nicaragua – the exotic-to-me locale where our dear, smart, hyper-educated, beautiful, world traveling friends had decided to get married. We’d known them forever, and I’d been not-so-secretly hoping they would finally get hitched.

But Central America?

What happened to getting married in Vegas? Or Palm Springs? Palm Springs is nice.

I thought my first trip abroad, might be to, say…. Canada. Not like faaaar into Canada – I’m not crazy – I was thinking maybe the part of Canada that touches Washington.

My husband John was not nervous at all. He’s traveled far more than I, and in more precarious situations than our loungey, celebratory jaunt to the Tropics.

John came home a few nights before we were to leave, and could see it on my face.

“What is it? What’s wrong?”

“I’ve been reading the Internet.”

“No. Why? Why would you do that?”

“According to the Internet, there’s a good chance we’ll be abducted by machete wielding kidnappers if we take that road from the airport at nighttime.”

“We won’t. Stop reading the Internet. And besides, someone visiting from Nicaragua would be scared to death if they read the Internet about coming here.”

Here’s what happened instead of us getting kidnapped: Our trip to Granada, Nicaragua – a Spanish provincial town from the 1500’s that smells eerily like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland — was notably machete-free. We met amazing people who’d traveled from near and far to celebrate a couple we all love; the weather was warm and the people of Granada were kind, and lovely.

The trip turned out fine. Not just fine, but fun. Like really, really fun.

Even the part where my hair frizzed out to three times its normal size.

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#2 Be OK with Lizards

After traveling safely from the airport, we settled into our Indiana Jones suite – huge vaulted ceilings, wrought iron fixtures and a mosquito netted, four-poster bed.

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John, having been to Central America before, ran into the bathroom ahead of me, mysteriously asking me to wait in the hall until he emerged a moment later with a sheepish grin. “OK, here’s the deal. There’s one little green lizard in there, but he darted away. I’m sure he’ll stay hidden.”

He did stay hidden, and I’ve never been such a picture of efficiency in the lavatory. I stomped into the bathroom on every subsequent trip, hoping to scare away any critter that may have already called dibs on the bathroom. It was a full 24 hours before the little green lizard and I came face to face.

I have been known to scream and run when faced with a lizard of any size, shape or color. However, the tropical heat paired with the rum gifted to us by the bride and groom, most certainly significantly and mercifully slowed my freak-out response time. I was able to look right into the creature’s beady little eyes and see he was scared to death. He had a facial expression I did not know scaley things were capable of. As he stood frozen in the corner, his face said, “Please don’t see me, please don’t see me. Does she see me? Oh no, I think she sees me.”

My fear was replaced with pity as I realized he was just minding his own beeswax when he got stuck in a bathroom with a terrifying giant sorely in need of a deep conditioner and a flat iron.

#3 Use what little Spanish I learned in college

Each morning of the trip, John and I shuffled to the hotel dining room where Olga, whose dewy skin and bright smile belied her age, presented us with a new exotic juice, tropical fruit, and huevos-anything-you-want. She was patient with my Spanish as I said the eggs are very good, and the birds are very pretty, and the trees are very pretty, and the table is very pretty. And every day, Olga suggested to us that our family would only be complete once we had a daughter. Either that, or she was saying her family is complete because she has four daughters.

If only my college Spanish teachers, who I in no way remember, could see me now! Unlike Spanish class, not once did I get to ask someone how to get to the library.

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#4 (Almost) jump into a pool, fully clothed, at the end of a party

Our trip to Nicaragua was a four-day fiesta punctuated by naps and mosquito bites, and of course, the tear-jerker wedding and five-hour dance party reception that concluded with grown men jumping into the swimming pool fully dressed – John included. I stood next to my college roommate as her boyfriend Jesper jumped in. Liane and I hemmed and hawed. “Should we jump in? We should, we should totally do it.  I don’t know. Yes. No. Yes, let’s do it.”  By the time we got to “OK, we’re totally doing this.” It was over, the guys were climbing out, and I did not have to transport a soaking wet dress back to the United States in my carry-on.

But still, I’ve never been closer to jumping into a pool while wearing a dress. So, progress.

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# 5 Be glad I went to my 20-year reunion, and come to terms with the fact that high school was actually pretty OK.

When the invite came for my 20th high school reunion, I thought, “Of course I’m going.” I spent the next months trying to change the minds of naysayer classmates who saw no value in reuniting, telling them “Come on, you have to go! It’s been 20 years! No, it’s not the same as Facebook! It’ll be fun!”

Sitting in the parking lot, all dressed up, with my classmates streaming into the party behind me, I realized that maybe I had jumped the gun. “Remind me why I’m doing this,” I said to John. It’s not like I was that great in high school; I was really committed to that asymmetrical haircut I had all four years. I went through a thing where I made my own jewelry. I was in a knee-brace half the time. I was a bit of a spaz. “I don’t need to be here. We have Facebook now.”

Buoyed by my arm-candy husband and old friends who met us in the parking lot, we went in.

Sure, the evening had its awkward moments – even painfully awkward moments with stilted conversation or that thing where you don’t recognize or remember someone in the slightest – but most of the moments were hilarious, sweet, fun, or wistful. Everyone had changed…but not really. While the 10-year reunion had an air of one-upsmanship, the 20-year came with the acute but unspoken sense that time was now starting to go by too fast, so we should just enjoy ourselves. Some classmates had passed away, many had moved away, and it seemed that everyone recognized we simply don’t have the luxury of time to compete, judge, be intimidated, or hang onto whatever baggage we’d brought from high school. We’re all just people, with a little bit of shared history – just like we were in high school, before we had the wisdom and sense to realize or appreciate it.

If given the chance, go to your reunion – it’s not the same as Facebook.

So there you go – what I did with my summer vacation. And now for MY rest-of the-summer bucket list:

Sit around and talk about the heat

Clean last day of school stuff out of backpacks before first day of school

Get DVR ready for new season of TV

Deep condition

*The photos at the tippy top are hopefully illustrative enough to make sense: Nicaragua. Then you’ve got reunion pics with girls I was lucky enough to grow up with. This one below? That’s my darling husband leading me through the streets of Granada. I’d follow him anywhere (almost).

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the forgotten art of looking around

27 Jan

It was a busy Friday, and I was stuck in one of the backwards-riding seats on BART, the Bay Area’s mid-century modern version of the subway. I looked longingly at my oversized satchel of reading material – five magazines, two regular books, a loaded Kindle, and the phone that keeps me linked in to every breaking world/national/state/local/entertainment/sports/finance/business/health/lifestyle/science/technology/opinion/home/travel/dining headline, allowing me to remain minimally informed on a maximum number of topics, and dangerously chatty at dinner parties.

This was the reading material I had thoughtfully prepared to get me through this train ride, two airport waits, two five hour flights, and no fewer than a dozen cappuccinos. I know well enough by now that if I were to read something while riding backwards on the train, it would be a throw-up extravaganza like that time in 8th grade, or like that other time in 8th grade. With 19 stops still to go, I couldn’t let that happen, I was wearing wool. If you are traveling alone though, it is just common courtesy to read, or pretend to read, otherwise you are the creeper who keeps engaging others in “accidental” eye contact. Alas, short of closing my eyes, falling asleep and waking up in the wrong county and relieved of my purse and suitcase – I was just going to have to look around.

Not long ago, I wrote a post about the value of boredom – but looking around, my friends, is not boring, which I keep somehow forgetting.

You think reading is entertaining? (Oh, it is! It IS entertaining, I love it) but people are REALLY entertaining; what they wear, what they say, and what they are reading.

The sky outside was perfectly blue, the couple to the left was deciding what they were having for dinner, and the guy behind me was suuuuper annoyed with another guy at his job who quite frankly, did sound awful. The girl in front of me had her scarf tied just so….it looked fresh and whimsical like it just happened to come out that way, but I knew she probably recruited a boy scout or sailor to tie it. I tried taking a mental picture to figure out the knot. I thought about taking an actual picture, but that was potentially more disconcerting than unwelcomed eye contact, which did eventually happen. A few feet away, there was an older gentleman also looking around, and after our eyes met, he did not look away, and then he strained his neck to continue not looking away. I decided that maybe I should look out at the blue sky again, and assume he was also nervous about motion sickness.

When you are defiantly not looking at your phone, you start to feel condescendingly sorry for the people who are glued to theirs.  That poor guy with the messenger bag – think of what he’s missing!

I tried sharing with John my window inspired euphoria – “I looked out the window today, and it was amazing!”

“Wow, what was out there?”

“I dunno – cars and people and stuff.”

I spent some more time with the window over the next few days — New York is a great place to do that. Whether you wake up and peek in the windows of another tall building across the way to the early bird who spins his chair while he talks on the phone, or simply watch pedestrians hustle by below, wrapped in winter layers not often seen in California, everybody looks like they are doing something more important than you ever will.

My dad worked in a tall building when I was a kid, and on one of those school in-service days, it was his turn to entertain me.  It wasn’t hard, I sat in his window and watched people wander up and down Sacramento’s Capitol Mall, visit the hot dog vendor, go to the bank, and wait for the bus.  I wrote a poem about what I saw, and recited it proudly to anyone who would listen – I think it included a rhyme for “briefcase.”

One of my all-time favorite movies is “Rear Window,” the premise of which is fascinating and terrifying – you just never know what you are going to see out there. I thought of this in our San Francisco apartment years ago when we were newlyweds, so full of excitement about what lay outside! It was not Grace Kelly or Jimmy Stewart  I found across the courtyard from our bedroom window however, but an elderly couple eating breakfast in their underwear, fully aware that I could see them.

Give it a whirl. When you are done reading this (and only then), look out the window. If you are outside, go inside, and look at the spot you were just sitting. Tell me it doesn’t blow your mind, a little bit, if you wait long enough.

But then again, I’m pretty sure this hobby could also be the telltale sign of an extreme extrovert. Do you know how hard it was not to ask the couple what they finally decided for to eat for dinner, or pick the brain of the jaunty scarf girl (who also had a phone with a screen so cracked, it was barely holding together – seriously, how did that happen?). Extroverts are energized by others, but if that extrovert is fully engaged in the world around them all the time, their head just might explode. Others are everywhere! There were the girls who worked together in Saks then ran into each other after four years! The lady that thought/hoped the Starbucks breakfast sandwich was a cheeseburger. The girl nervous about a job interview. A German tourist with laryngitis, a guy editing a proposal, the couple from Toronto (she was waaaaay taller than he was), the guy who dropped his dry cleaning in the street, and Karl from the shoe department who has bad knees too. Where does one even begin? It took copious amounts of hand-wringing and concentration not to start conversations with every single one of them. I did talk to Karl, however, and recommended insoles if he was going to be standing all day.

It might just be better to return to my headlines, and leave all these nice folks to go about their day without a nosy lady in a wool coat watching them from the window.



The top pic is from our hotel in Murray Hill. The left photo down here is from one of my seats at Starbucks, 40th & Lexington, NYC, and the right is a lady reading on the subway platform, caught through two windows as the train passes between us.

beachy kleen

21 Jul

I am human so I love the beach and the water. It’s soothing to stare at and inspirational for all types – photographers, theologians, painters, poets, and I’m guessing, boat builders. You can get wrapped up envisioning the generations of admirers that have come before you, sitting on these same shores in their old timey clothes, happy to escape the grind of old timey life like covered wagons and washboards and lard buckets. It’s easy to think about God and bigness and eternity. You respect the power of the water, and the majesty of the sunsets and mountains.

But when it comes time to clean off two sandy boys in a rented retreat center bathroom, I think not so nice things about nature and the beach, and that maybe a lard bucket wouldn’t be so bad after all. Sand, as noble and poetic as it is, is exceptionally hard to remove from little legs and bobbing heads of thick hair. There are never enough towels, and there’s not an actual lid on this toilet, so anything that comes in a 4-foot radius of it, is most certainly going to wind up in it. This is not your home shower, so its quirks are still a fun mystery to you…. either one drastically wayward stream of water that shoots all over the room, or the nozzle that you somehow left pointed at the front door. That’s fun because when you turn it on, your child is left naked and shivering and dry, and you are clothed, soaked and fake-swearing. “Ding dang! Darg blummit!” The sibling is of course unattended in the other room, still wearing his goggles, with sand coming out of every crevice. He is more than likely rolling around in the sheets of all of the beds and trying on your watch.

Wet bathing suits hang from every available pole, hanger and hook, dripping, dripping, dripping onto your purse, or creating a slipping hazard for later.

If we were living in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, the beach would be a breeze. Our little toe headed beach adept sand angels would play an innocent game of tag while giggling, then finish with big hugs and brotherly cuddles. I would of course be wearing a designer tunic while preparing fresh lemonade spritzers in my nautically themed kitchen. We would have outside showers and our personalized towels would hang jauntily from conveniently placed kid-height pegs.  But alas, the beach for most people on planet Earth, is not like that.

I grew up vacationing every summer in our family’s travel trailer, either in Santa Cruz or Southern California, but always by the beach. So the trauma and the drama of the beach shower was very much a part of the summer routine. My older brother and dad would wait patiently in our patio/picnic area complete with astro turf and strung owl party lights, while I would scream dramatically from the trailer’s postage stamp bathroom, “Stop! Stop! My eyes! My eyes! I’m blind! I’m drowning!”  My mother would somehow keep her cool and remind me that if I stopped screaming about my eyes, I would be less likely to swallow so much shower water. There was no pesky sunblock back then that we would have to wash off, but my brand new sunburn would certainly keep things interesting. “My shoulders! My eyes! I’m blind! I’m burning!”

When the screaming was over, I would emerge in my terry cloth outfit, freshly pig tailed, gangly arms crossed, 300 more freckles than I started the day with, and undoubtedly frowning. Scott and dad would maybe pump up the tires on the bike or throw a Frisbee. Mom would bring out hamburgers, and 3 different kinds of pickles, potato chips and Shasta Cola, humming. Nobody would speak of the injustice of the mandatory beach shower.

When John manages this process with our boys, he makes it look so easy – everybody lined up, in and out of the shower, no big deal. I thought of him and the serenity my mother would maintain through my hissy fits as I looked for clean shorts for the kid jumping on the bed, and a pair of socks for the one digging through my purse for gum.

With everybody dressed, relatively dry, and smelling better, we made our way down the hall for lunch, when the little one turned to me, “I am so excited to go right back to the beach the second we finish eating!”

interlude

8 Jun

Between lying in the Disneyworld sun (it’s like they have their own sun!), and lying in bed melodramatically clutching Kleenex in each hand, and lying on the couch surrounded by work notebooks and papers and sticky notes with cryptic half-words scrawled on them, I’ve been occupied. Indisposed? (Either way sounds bathroom related. Everything sounds bathroom related when you’re surrounded by boys all the time.)

I of course would be completely honored and totally surprised if anybody noticed it had been a while since I posted anything. But I noticed, because small funny illustrative moments kept happening, and I couldn’t take advantage of them like I had grown blissfully accustomed to. And I didn’t take notes like I promised myself I would. I’ve walked by my laptop, and run a finger along the top, wistfully recalling how once upon a time I could sit over there *points* typity type type typing the night away while uncharacteristically letting shows stack up in my DVR. (I would very much like to tell you, and in short order, about my waterpark temper tantrum, the bodyguard in the Gucci sunglasses with the book of Sudoku puzzles, Ponce de Leon, the art of confiscation and a less than magical turn on the Magical Express.)

It’s been a whirlwind of activity and emotion that have included a blinding flurry of work and work functions as well as the sun soaked giddiness of a much appreciated vacation and getting to see old friends…all accompanied by the intense desperation for a nap, a mug of tea and a decongestant.

I had a feeling it was bad when three people walked past my office door in a day, gave me a cursory glance and wave, then doubled back to ask if I was ok. I caught a glimpse of my reflection. Wild haired and tired eyed and sorely in need of lipstick.

We’re all victims/offenders of busy (depends on how you look at it), but what’s so acutely new to me this time are the byproducts of being a kid of aging parents and a parent of aging kids. Every conversation in our house is anchored by preschool and or 5th grade “graduation” and what’s next for the boys; what’s next at work; or what’s next as we navigate the unfun health stuff of one of our parents toward what we expect to be a positive, and frankly, more fun outcome.  And then there’s the part where we remind ourselves that it could be a lot worse, and it’s actually the perfect time to count our blessings, and then I feel junky for feeling sorry for myself in the first place. (I just cannot be the only person who does that.)

As I sit in the middle of happy and hard things last week, this week and next, I’m hopeful for the return of the sun, and maybe some sense of normal. I’ve asked for prayers without hesitation, and bent many an ear, and look forward to returning the favor.

don’t call that vintage:snaps

25 Mar

My designer friends would probably tell you that the resurfacing of the 70s and 80s aesthetic sensibility is so five years ago, but I am aware of it now, so I’ll just say that it’s “new.”  Maybe it’s because I realized my son is closer to the age of 21 than I am (oh, *&%$!) Maybe it’s because I visited a Swatch store on vacation, I don’t know, but I am seeing pieces of my childhood resurface in the oddest of places. Only now, the hipster at American Apparel is telling me it’s ironic, and fresh, fashion-forward, but still, gulp…vintage.

Every generation nods with a wink at a generation or two from before. I wore John Lennon glasses for a while, and for no reason. Maybe it’s fine for the kids who are enjoying it the first time around, but isn’t there some kind of rule preventing me from whole-heartedly embracing dingy bad photos and questionable shoulderpads, because I lived through them already? Maybe.

I’d like to welcome you to part 1 in my blog mini-series. “Don’t call that Vintage – I bought that new.”

I am about a year late to the hipstamatic party, but I am completely hooked on taking early 1980’s photos with my smart phone, which I realize is weird on about 7 different levels. I posted some of my work (may I call them “pieces?”) on Facebook, and almost immediately got a snarky remark, from a favorite snarky remark giver – a college freshman currently living across the country.

“Someone just discovered the hipstamatic app,” she wrote.

I had, and it was a problem, and I knew that.

I was lounging around in quarantine AGAIN with a flu-ridden kid when I downloaded the app to my phone. Hipstamatic takes what would be a perfectly good photo, and subjects it to vintage film, lens and flash effects. The kid with the flu was actually the one subjected – to me taking multiple photos of him sitting on the couch, taking a nap, watching tv, or pretending to take a nap in the vain attempt to get me to perhaps go away.

I showed John my results, and he nodded. After about the 10th oddly lit and grainy shot, he sweetly said, “They’ve made many advancements in photography, you know. On purpose. Pictures are much better now.”

“I know, I know. But look how gritty it is. It looks like the 70’s.”

“But why would you want it to look like the 70’s? The 70’s really didn’t look very good. We knew that while the 70’s were happening. And we were kids.”

When we met up with some old friends at a Starbucks (sure it was a Starbucks in Las Vegas) I showed them my handiwork. Megan was nice enough to play along with me. I’d snap one, and then we’d quickly look at it, critiquing each shot…the flash, the composition, and how our hair looked. Our husbands looked at each other, rolling their eyes the way only grown men and 12-year-old girls can, and went back to talking about basketball.

Other than the photo of a “Tigers Love Pepper” t-shirt, the rest of my Las Vegas photos were taken this way, as were the bowling photos a couple of days later when parents from our church went out for a high-brow night on the town. There is something about Las Vegas and bowling that seem to be the perfect vehicles for gritty, grainy images, and face-distorting lighting.

After 11 grueling minutes of Internet research, the dormant cub reporter in me was intrigued to find out that there is actually a backstory to the hipstamatic craze. (I will call it a craze, because I am currently very interested in it, though I don’t actually have any research to back up its popularity. Apparently, I am currently not that thorough of a cub reporter.) There is even a touch of controversy and a hint of burgeoning urban legend. Suppooooosedly, two brothers manufactured a handful of all-plastic hipstamatic cameras in 1982, that were inspired by Kodak’s instamatic cameras. The brothers were tragically killed in a car accident a short time later, and nearly all of their photos were lost in a housefire in the early 90’s. The story goes that a third surviving brother strives to continue Hipstamatic photography to cement his brothers’ legacies and further the artform that they loved.  However, conspiracy theorists boasting more than 11 minutes of Internet research claim that no such story can be substantiated, and that it is a clever marketing ploy designed specifically for suckers like me, and kids being ironic.

Whatever the story, I love these ridiculous pictures. 1980’s flash does wonders for my vintage skin.

Three of the four photos above are from my camera. The other one is legit. (Hint: my mom’s pants are also legit.) The one with the female humans (girls? ladies? moms? women? that’s a whole different issue) is me and my friend Megan (she’s the adorable pixie on the right). We’re waiting for the fountains at the Bellagio entertaining ourselves while our husbands rolled their eyes. Again.

the terminal

8 Nov

I fly some. Not a lot, but some. Usually not very far and there has never been a passport involved. That will change someday, I’m confident. And hopefully on the other end there will be either insane sunsets and tropical breezes, or scones and Big Ben. I’m certainly not complaining. I will never complain about flying to New York, or Las Vegas, or to Lubbock where they have the…coziest….airport I have ever seen. Not when there is an amazing friend waiting 11 feet from the gate to pick you up. ( think I could have almost tapped her on the shoulder in the official waiting area from my seat on the plane.) Yes, I’ve become pretty adept at fitting magazines, books and gum in my purse, putting my license where I can grab it and strategically wearing slip on shoes.

OK, so I’ve also been known to be the harried and disorganized looking woman at the security gate that makes you roll your eyes and ask the person next to you, “do you think she’s ever flown before?” But I swear it’s not my fault. This belt is practically part of these pants. I wasn’t aware my knee brace is held together by something that looks like a scythe. I didn’t know you’re not allowed to have too much change in your wallet. Did you know that? I did not know that. But I found that out when the nice TSA lady had to put on a rubber glove to go through my change purse.

I know about the liquid thing, but I forget how often I have a bottle of water at the bottom of my gargantuan handbag. I don’t talk back or get snarky when they speak slowly to remind me that I cannot take that on the plane. I just apologize profusely and chuck it into the recycling bin left there for the adorably forgetful and oblivious. When we flew to San Diego for a conference last week, we saw a guy chug a liter of Diet Coke so he wouldn’t have to put it in that bin. A liter! Like the kind you take warm to a staff lunch or a picnic that you really didn’t have the energy to bake brownies for. He looked like he was going to throw up when he was done, so I secretly hoped he was not going to be sitting next to me.

While I may work hard at projecting the image that flying is a mundane exercise that one must endure to get somewhere cool, there is still the 5-year-old girl in there somewhere who finds the process pretty glamorous and cosmopolitan. Have you seen “Catch Me if You Can”? If you haven’t, you have to. It captures the golden age of air travel like nothing I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s wearing a hat, and the ladies have scarves, heels, and red lipstick. Pilots are suave and revered and, as you will find out by watching this movie, can get away with anything. And going to the airport was a big deal.

I nonchalantly hook myself up to the airport wi-fi as if I do it every day, but in the inside I am high-fiving myself. I’m trying hard not to hop onto Facebook to update, “I’m at the airport! Me! At the airport!”  or “Guess who I just ran into at the airport!” or “Wow, the airport is crazy today!” 

John also looks nonchalant from the outside, but I think he feels that way for real. Like many of you, he has about a gazillion miles logged.  He’s traveled on one of the longest flights on Earth multiple times. (I said a gazillion for emphasis, but when I said one of the longest flights on Earth, I was being serious – JFK-Johannesburg.) As adept as I am at selecting, packing, and reading magazines, he’s actually honed the art of sitting and staring. He can actually just zone out for sport. When we climbed on board the short jaunt to San Diego however, his eyes lit up when he spotted a new issue of Sky Mall. He may have, under his breath, referred to it as his favorite periodical.

There are many of you who fit into this obscenely well-traveled category…who fly weekly or monthly, and to locales that I’ve never heard of. I know when it is such a regular part of your life, there is the inevitable drudgery of delays and cancellations and the person next to you who won’t stop talking (shockingly, that is NOT me – can you believe it? I am not an airplane talker!) The excitement must wear off, and you stop looking at everybody and wondering where they are going or where they have been. You probably have a favorite airport.

I do. Other than SFO, I would have to pick McCarran in Las Vegas and JFK in New York. Las Vegas purely for sociological research. This is the one airport on Earth where you can tell who is going and who is arriving just by looking at them; the faces full of hope and promise vs. the cloudy eyes that reflect defeat and a killer headache.

We landed in JFK on our first trip to New York. It smelled exactly how I imagined it to – It was utilitarian and kind of dirty and reminded me of that show Night Court that was on in the 80’s, and the old opening for Saturday Night Live where the city looked gritty, but exciting. Everybody at the baggage carousel seemed to be planted there for my benefit…the “Welcome to New York, F-you” package. The accents were almost as thick as the air, and I’ve never heard so much simultaneous swearing in my life. I tried to contain my traitorous giggle and keep my eyes down for they were surely full of wonder & delight and would quickly give me away as a non-New Yorker.

The last time John was at JFK he and a handful of adults had to usher 55 kids through customs on the way to Africa and as the last one through he was stopped for the full search which caused him to sprint to the plane only to make it to his seat as the doors were closing. SFO-San Diego with just your wife and a carry-on may not hold the same sense of challenge and adventure. Unless your wife has $11 dollars worth of dimes, a built in belt, half a bottle of Aquafina and a knee brace.

The jet-setting feeling of air travel goes away though when you are standing barefoot, arms in the air above your head in the full body scanner machine. Having your full body scanned (or body fully scanned – I don’t know which is less disturbing) while a bunch of barefoot strangers watch, does not feel very glamorous after all.