Tuesday, March 29, 2005

From summers in the deep Polish countryside to hot days on crowded New York beaches: didn’t I notice that suddenly there were people around me?

Is it the summer-like weather that makes me ask this question, or is it that, upon returning home to Madison, I became curious about photos from New York taken some forty-plus years ago? Here is the issue: at what age should children wear clothes suited to their gender requirements?

Because I came across several photos that I was tempted to post – thematically they fit into my New York musings about Coney Island, or even about Bulgaria (under the banner: I survived the flight to Sofia and here I am to prove it).

The problem is that in the vast majority of my Coney snaps and also on the Bulgarian beaches, I seem to have forgotten that girl-swimsuits have a top part to them. My sister, my senior by a mere one year, is jumping waves in a nice little suit with a ruffled skirt and a tight string bringing up the top part firmly all the way to her neck, and I am running around in some ratty underpants, enjoying the splash of water, in complete, immodest oblivion to my surroundings. On Coney Island beach, no less, with a crowd of several million around me.

True, I was only seven (six in Bulgaria) and so scientifically speaking, there was no reason to run a halter top to my neck. And I cannot imagine this was the work of my mother who had a habit of dressing her daughters in identical clothing, on the same days, up until the day my sister threatened to not leave the house if she had to look like me. (It was a fifties dressing thing I guess.)

I could print the photo and add a painted-in red bar in the place that matters, but that only draws attention to the embarrassing truth: I seem to have enjoyed having skimpy attire. Either that or I let the waves wash away that band of polka-dot fabric that should have matched the polka-dot bottom I seem to have worn that day.

No Coney photo then. Nor Zlote Piaski in Bulgaria. Ocean feels like maybe little Nina should have been a little less of a free spirit.

End of break

It stopped being fun three flights ago, in Colorado: the sitting on the airport floor near the one plug (for the computer) within ten miles of the gate, the so called bad-weather delays, the crowds, ill-tempered and ill-mannered, the babies who want you to smile at them even though you want to be far far far away from them in seat assignment, the cab drivers who do not have change for a ten thereby commanding a tip in excess of 40%, all our bulging suitcases of things, irrelevant things – if they fell off the plane over Lake Erie, who would miss them?I am suddenly not a fan of the tedious process of getting myself from one place to another.

The above was written at LaGuradia where I waited for many many hours for my NW flight to Madison, connecting in Detroit. I’m home now and I want to put a more positive spin on things. No one likes a whiner.

DAMN IT! Why is the flight to Detroit delayed two hours? And why are there no seats available to Madison on any other flight today? I teach tomorrow (or: I have a guest coming to class tomorrow and I HAVE to be there), help me out here, Northwest!

La Guardia is one crappy airport. I admit it: I don’t really enjoy sitting on the floor, hearing some raspy CNN station recount the Schiavo story over and over and over again. I am well aware of what was at issue and where we’re at now. Leave me alone, I do not want a replay of it all.

I fly a lot. I mean, a beastly amount. But I can confidently say that the flight from NY to Detroit today ranked among the top five in terms of horrible turbulence. I think my maiden voyage abroad, from Warsaw to Sofia in 1959 was worse, but this one may come in as a close second. The flight attendants were ordered by the captain to sit tightly buckled for the entire duration of the flight. That one dip right in the middle was grounds for a lawsuit. Though I appreciated the captain’s words reassuring everyone that all the planes passing through New England were screaming at the air traffic controllers to get them out of the swirling air current mess. Our plane went up to 38,000 feet and still could not shake the storms.

Remarkably, I made my connection in Detroit (naturally; the flight to Madison was delayed, even though the entire Midwest is under a canopy of calm clear skies). So Mr. Pilot: explain why, in these perfect conditions, where you could see the Madison runway all the way from Milwaukee, why did you miss it? And abort the landing at the very last second?? I have lived through about a half dozen aborted landings in my life, but NEVER one this close.

Yes, of course, Northwest lost my suitcase. They have no idea where it is.

No, it does not end there: the only cab I could get was one of those communal ones. They are the biggest scam in town. You stop at all these horribly distant places, take forever to arrive at your destination and you still pay pretty much full fare. And you have to listen to everyone’s story. Because everyone gets all friendly-like and chatty. Not me. I was in no mood for reviewing my spring break for the lot of them. You want to know, talk to me tomorrow, or read about it on the blog.

So here I am, back in Madison, with no suitcase, worse, no sign of life in this huge empty house. Wee. Hoo.