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Media Viruses: Things You Wouldn’t Say in Broad Daylight.



Coffee, or bust.

It’s not as cold here as I believed it would be. I haven’t had to buy long underwear yet. It’s actually no colder here than it is at home. I’m alone today, The Dad had to go to a job—he’s fixing some fire damage at the local crematorium. He calls it “my final bed.” As in “I’m going over to my final bed to rock on these walls for a while. I’ll be back this afternoon.” So I’m alone. I’ve been given keys to The Big Van, so I’ll be learning the streets of Billings in a few minutes. I spied a coffee stand down the street, I think I’ll subject myself to some bad coffee first. I wonder if it’s too much to hope that they have chai?

Had a nightmare last night. I woke up and went into the living room, and there was a card table set up, and my Uncle Larry was there, playing cards with Grandma Sylvia (my stepmother’s mom.) I asked Larry what he was doing, since it was 3 am, and why he didn’t go to bed. He said “I can’t go to bed, you’re sleeping in it.” and I really woke up. It was 4:34. I think my body was saying “Hey! You’re late for work!” and it gave me a nightmare to wake me up. Still, it was freaky. My Uncle Larry lived in this house alone until my Dad moved here, and then when Larry died, dad just assumed the house, cleared out all of Larry’s stuff, and gave it to Angela, and moved his stuff in from Uncle Billy’s basement. So I actually AM sleeping in his bed.

I can’t tell what time it is, because I set either the clock on the computer or the clock on my cell phone to Mountain time…but I can’t remember which. I think I must have set the phone, because it says 9:29 and the computer says 8:29. My body feels like it’s about 2 in the afternoon. This is the real reason I hate traveling. I feel disorientated. Like I’m in a part of town I just don’t recognize, and if I just get to the next intersection it will start to look familiar—except that it never does.

Grades posted, and I got another three “A”s. I guess that should make me happy, but it just makes me relieved. I think that’s kind of screwed up. Oh well. Time to go back to The Cave.

Fly like a Pelican?

I’m sitting in Portland International Airport, beneath an Internet Bar.  I logged on and checked my grades, but they STILL haven’t posted.  They tell you to arrive two hours early for domestic flights.  I, being an inexperienced air traveler, arrived two and a half hours early. 

Point 1:  Web check-in is the way to go.  I printed my boarding pass last night, and brought it and my flight itinerary with me.  I found an unused self-service kiosk as soon as I came in.  I checked myself in, then proceeded to the baggage check.  I checked my battered luggage and proceeded to security. 

I had been led to believe by my laptop’s manual that the Security personnel at the airport would expect me to disassemble my laptop and reassemble it, to prove, in no uncertain terms, that my Dell was in fact a Dell, and not a Dell-shaped bomb.  They were having none of it.

“Just throw it in one of these bins.” 
“I don’t need to take it apart or anything?”
He gives me a look that says “Lady, if you can take your laptop apart, I’ve got one at home you can work on, cause it don’t work, but now’s not the time.”
“In.  The.  Bin.” he says slowly, enunciating each word as if I am what his Kentucky kin would call an “M-B-sile”

I was also unaware that you had to remove your shoes until my Grandmother told me this morning.  I paid by not wearing socks.  They paid by smelling the inside of my shoes.  (For those who only know me casually, my foot odor is LEGENDARY.  In fact, I’m surprised YOU didn’t smell my feet from there—-wherever you are.)

Point 2:  In all the years I worked in this airport, I was never aware of the reason that A Concourse went down an escalator.  Now I know.  We will be boarding  ON THE TARMAC.  This is strangely frightening for me.  When you board from a gangway, it’s like you’re still in the airport.  One minute, you’re at the gate, then you’re in a long hallway, then you’re on the plane.  I’ll be going OUTSIDE to get on my plane.  This reinforces the fact that the plane is a separate entity—-fully able to fly or crash on its own.  Also, the plane is much smaller than I was led to believe.  It is still a jet (or at least I think it is.  If it’s a prop plane, I’m out of here) but it looks like a 40 seater.  My sister was right.  She warned me that the plane was smaller than I thought.

Point 3:  You may have wondered what I meant above when I said, “beneath an Internet Bar.”  When I saw the huge blue and white “Internet Bar” sign from 100 yards down the concourse, I expected to find a slightly swank (“swank” because the word “bar” in an airport always signified status to me, and “slightly” because, after all, this IS Portland.) room filled with cigar-smoking Internet junkies  busily tapping away on their sleek silver laptops. 

The Internet Bar is a 20 ft long countertop, facing a blank wall.  It “features” six double outlets, two TDD machines, two of the ugliest and most uncomfortable bar stools I’ve ever seen, and four phone books.  I’m plugged in to the wall outlet and perched on the floor below it.

I have arrived so early that neither the screens in the gate area nor the website devoted to flight arrivals and departures is registering my flight.  But who cares?  I have power, a computer, music, and people to watch.

Point 4:  One of the things I miss the most about living in a city is the variety of people.  In a small town there are people too, but you don’t get some things.  Like airline pilots.  For those who don’t know any, or have never worked in an airport, you must know that airline pilots are some of the strangest people around.  They have a perverse sense of humor, mostly centered around death.  Two just walked by me, commenting on the places they were going. 

“I’m 2143 to Deadford.”  I assume he means “Medford.”

“I’m 2416 to Hellings.”  2416?  That’s MY flight.  He means Billings.  This short, scrungy (for a pilot) freakazoid is driving MY plane?  We will fly like a pelican!

My plane is not yet here.  It arrives from Hellings at 2:45, and departs again at 3:15.  I’ll be at gate A2, which is nice, because I’ll only have to walk 40 feet, and if I chicken out when I see the plane, there will still be time to run back to the real bar and get a drink. 

Yes.  I’m thinking of drinking.  For those unfamiliar with my foot odor, you might not know this, but I don’t drink.  EVER.  AT ALL.  So for me to consider a drink is a frightening state of affairs.

Ah well, such is life.  I’m going to check my grades again. 

4:23 PM

At 3:10, they informed us that our flight might be delayed a few minutes.  We would now be departing at 3:45, rather than at 3:15.  We heaved a collective sigh and sat down (we had been lining up to board) and waited. 

And waited.

And waited.

At 3:40, they told us the plane had hit a bird on its way to Portland.  The front radar had been…damaged slightly.  The crew guys told a different story, and we could all clearly hear him while the door to the tarmac was open.

“It’s gone.  I mean gooone.  It’ll take another…”

The door shut, but we soon found out how long it WOULD take.

“Attention all passengers of flight 2416 departing to Billings, we are experiencing technical difficulties and will be departing at 6:45.  Thank you for your patience.”

Patience?  Technical difficulties?

Patience is what you have when you are told you must arrive two hours early, and then are sped through in four minutes.  Technical difficulties are what happens to your cable service when 60mph wind gusts knock out a reciever tower. 

Patience is not waiting 4 1/2 hours to get on a stupid plane in an airport.  Technical difficulties are not your plane malfunctioning aggregiously.  Waiting all day to get on a plane in an airport is torture, and a bird taking out your radar is an unmitigated fucking disaster.

5:29 PM We are still stuck in the waiting area outside of the gate. My traveling companions are as restless as I. There is the Leather Cowboy. Black leather trenchcoat, Black leather cowboy hat. Block leather boots. Not cowboy boots, but more like riding boots, knee-high. And a Punisher tee shirt. He hasn’t said a word. I wonder what his iPod is telling him. Then there’s Pug Dog Lady. She must be 80. Her poor dog is boxed up in a cardboard dog carrier. The lettering on its side proclaims it to be a Cosmic Pet Shuttle. The dog is not amused. She and another lady, who lives in another part of town (Billings has more than one part?) are discussing their respective properties.

10:12/11:12 (PST, MST) It was a prop plane. There was a lot of turbulence. But I finally arrived in Billings. It’s bigger than I thought. They have two 20 story buildings. They stick out terribly above the plain. My day is finally at an end. Luckily, The Dad lives downtown, in a little shack off of Main Street, and some nearby business has an unsecured wireless network, so I’m wi-fi from the house. This might not be so bad…if I could only get him to shut up. I’ve been in the next room, typing away for about an hour, and he keeps talking to me. I told him I was going to bed, but I suppose that the light is a dead giveaway.



Montana—where the men are men, the women are men, and the women are glad the sheep can’t cook.

Next weekend marks the occasion of my 4th time in Montana. The first was as an 8 year old, when we went to a family reunion for my Mother’s side of the family. We drove in my Grandmother’s rust-colored 1981 Toyota Camry, and I still remember that I was reading “The Secret of Terror Castle,” an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery. The main character was a teenaged boy named Jupiter Jones, whose uncle owned a junk yard, but I don’t remember what the Secret of Terror Castle turned out to be.

As we passed through Montana, we stayed the night in a motel in Missoula. I’m not sure of the day, but after we checked in, when my grandfather looked out of our window, the hillside above the town was on fire, and he called the fire department.

“Hello” he said. “I’m not sure if this is something that’s supposed to be happening, some sort of controlled field-burn or something, but are you aware that your hill is on fire?”

They weren’t. It turned out that the entire resident population of the town was downtown, at some type of harvest fair. It took people who had no connection to the town to recognize the danger creeping toward it.

The second time was the return. We didn’t stop in Missoula. We didn’t stop anywhere.

The third time was August 2002, when the band played our first out-of-state gig, at the Zebra Lounge in Bozeman. The only unblurred detail from that trip is that the air was so thin, I could barely breathe. My singing sucked because of it, but Wa and I did have a nice conversation with a Swede who told me our music was a cross between Depeche Mode and Blondie. I think she meant it as a compliment.

So, next weekend, I’ll be leaving (on a jet plane) for the Bright Lights and Big City of Billings. Joy. I’m going to visit The Dad.

The thing is, I’m scared to death. I’m not particularly crazy about The Dad anyway, and this trip is supposed to be one whose purpose is to iron out the details of what will happen to The Dad’s Crap when he finally enters the Giant Shit Hole In The Sky. So what am I so freaked out about?

Item One: I have to go on an airplane. Strangely enough, since this will be my 4th trip to Montana, it will also be my 4th trip on an airplane. Even though I know airplanes are safe (believe me, I’m related to a lot of people who’ve worked at Boeing over the years, and they don’t just fall apart in the air, like I thought they did when I was little.) I’m still not crazy about them. Mostly, it’s because I’m not crazy about buses either, and an airplane is just a giant bus in the sky. Another reason is that I’m scared shitless of heights.

Item Two: I’m scared shitless of heights. When I was about 5, The Dad, The Stepmom, The Stepsister, The Sister and Moi went to Multnomah Falls. We walked up what seemed to be a very long path. Eventually (it must have been 8 or 9 minutes later) we got to the bridge. This bridge, for those unfamiliar, is only about 50 feet above the water, but to a 3 foot tall kid, that’s a long way down. The Dad thought I wanted to be able to see better, so he picked me up and dangled me over the edge—You may have wondered where Michael Jackson got the idea, now you know. The more I screamed and cried, the more he said things like “It’s okay. I’m not going to drop you. Whoops! Just kidding.” And eventually “Stop crying. Be tough. Be a Marine.”

On another occasion, we were at Oaks Park, and he took me on the Ferris Wheel. The operator warned me very sternly “Don’t rock the car when you are going up, or when you’re on the top. It’s dangerous.” Then he told The Dad “Don’t let your daughter rock the car, okay?” “Sure. I won’t let her rock the car.”

Guess who rocked the car, until I cried and begged him to stop.

I could go on, but I won’t.

Item three: I could go on, but I won’t.

I won’t, because it’s all moot anyway. I’m going to Montana, whether I like it or not. I’m going because I’m not a kid anymore, and my Grandmother’s rust-colored 1981 Toyota Camry now rests in my driveway. I’m not crazy about the idea, but the money was sent, the tickets are bought, and I’m going. I’m going to see The Dad. I’m spending three whole days with him. We’re going to write a will. I’m going on an airplane. And all this is possible because somewhere along the way, I learned how to stop being a tourist in my own head. Instead, I’m one of the townspeople, totally unaware of the danger creeping slowly toward me.


Sandwich, Fries, and Kvetchup

spent the better part of my afternoon trying to come up with synonyms for “talkative” without looking them up in a reference work. I got “garrulous, voluble, verbose, chatty, and loquacious.” Pretty pitiful, since I missed “articulate, big-mouthed, chattering, effusive, eloquent, fluent, gabbling, gabby, gassy, glib, gossipy, long-winded, loose-lipped, loudmouth, mouthy, multiloquent, prolix, rattling, slick, smooth, talky, verbal, vocal, windy, wordy, and yacky.” I wish I could have a wi-fi brain. Just so I could check dictionary.com.  They’ve also got a word-of-the-day list that’s to die for.  Today’s word:  *kvetch.  How appropriate to my blog, since all I do is kvetch effusively.

I’m in the New York City Sub Shop again.  They have strange paintings on the walls.  One is a kind of hippie farmer with a coffee mug.  the others make more sense, an indian, a Coho salmon, and a view of the gorge.  The hippie farmer just freaks me out.  Maybe because I’ve never seen a REAL farmer smile. 

Which reminds me of my favorite farmer joke:
Did you hear about the farmer who won the lottery?  They asked him what he was going to do with the money.  He replied “Well, I guess I’ll just keep farmin’ till it’s gone.”


Virtual Sushi

Remember when you first saw Bladerunner, and everything was very neon, very Tokyo, except that it was Lost Angeles?  Slashdot is reporting that the government has figured out how to generate “artificial light displays in the ionosphere.”  Of course, this could be used to signal ground attacks, air strikes, or to advertise the Tost-t-o’s Fourth Annual Superball in mile-high (literally) letters in the sky.  Great.  I’m really going to miss Orion.

While you’re living in this virtual Tokyo, try some virtual sushi.  In what proves to be the strangest article I’ve read yet this year (and that’s saying quite a lot), The New York Times is reporting that chef Homoro Cantu at Chicago’s Moto restaurant serves…

wait for it

Sushi printed from an inkjet printer.  He prints a picture of the sushi on edible paper, then flavors the paper.  Oh well.  It couldn’t be any worse than my cooking. 

Which makes me think, who needs to learn how to cook at all now?  Just go webside, down a pic of your fav dish, print it out on the incredible edible paper, and then slap it on a plate.  You could even wrap real food in it, so that it would look like steak, but taste like chicken.