Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Message received, self.

Raise your hand if you are at all surprised that, after the last month of my life, I am sick.

Yeah, me neither.

It's my fault. I moved and then drove and then moved again and then started a new job and then had houseguests and then went to the Sondre Lerche show at the 9:30 Club (totally worth it, BTW--I don't care who you are or what kind of music you like, you will like Sondre Lerche), and then my body said OKAY, WE'RE NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE, and so here I am, sniffling and sweating and leaving a trail of Kleenex behind me. It's miserable, but it's not very mysterious.

The good news is that, in a moment of prophetic grocery shopping, I bought a box of frozen, chocolate-dipped bananas the other day. When all other foods seem disgusting, when I simply can't conceive of keeping anything else down, the frozen banana saves all with its cold, tangy goodness. Nice one, self. Keep it up with the therapeutic snack foods.

The other good news is that I'm hopping a flight to New York tonight, heading up to some relatives for Thanksgiving. Of course, this would all be better if I were not in danger of a) passing out in the middle of Dulles International, or b) infecting an entire plane full of people with the plague, but I am excited about seeing this side of the family, about a big Thanksgiving meal (ironic; also, if I'm not eating properly by tomorrow, heads will roll), and about doing whatever it is New York people do as fall turns to winter. It's going to be good times, and I hope your Thanksgivings are also wonderful, no matter what you're doing.

I'm having a banana and going back to bed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Long haul: Pittsburgh - Silver Spring, MD

PSA: Whatever you have heard about Pittsburgh, PA, forget it (unless you've heard that Pittsburgh is beautiful and amazing; that, you can hang on to). Christine and I have a city crush on Pittsburgh and on Mr. Rogers's Literal Neighborhood and on Luthor Towers the Pittsburgh Plate & Glass building, and potentially on many other things in our new favorite Western-Pennsylvania metropolis.

I repeat: Pittsburgh rules. (This is Station Square, which you can reach by car or by funicular. Funicular!)

The Grand Concourse, train-station-cum-restaurant. So, so beautiful. We ate at the bar.

More of the Grand Concourse. You should see the bathrooms (but the pictures didn't turn out).

Pennsylvania, late fall.

Long haul: Chicago - Pittsburgh

The view of Lake Michigan from Michigan. Or, maybe Michigan City, Indiana? Either way, it's big. And cold. And windy.

I got to listen to Sufjan Stevens's album Greetings from Michigan on the sweetest little Michigan freeway ever. Look how cute!

Oh, Ohio. You're adorable.

Who wouldn't want to live in the Cleve?

It is sad to me that Christine and her lovely friend Jewel are standing in front of the enormous jugs of wine that are fermenting in Jewel's basement in Cleveland, because it is a lot of wine. But she made us Ina Garten's beef stew and fixed my knitting woes, so all is forgiven.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

12 of 12: Long-Haul November Edition

Welcome to 12 of 12: Long Haul/November Edition! For details on 12 of 12 and other people's entries, check out Chad Darnell's blog.

A little context for people just dropping for 12 of 12: This is day five of an eight-day road trip across the U.S., part of my moving from San Francisco to Washington, DC for a new job. The twelfth just happened to fall on day of rest in Chicago, which is way more exciting than twelve pictures of me going to regular work, don't you think?

8:47 - Up and at 'em! Not early, but I've earned a sleep-in day.

9:40 - My battle wound from last night's crab-leg incident. Those guys are spiky.

10:25 - Adorable Mount Prospect.

10:37 - The Metra train. If you know me and my unnatural love for public transit, you know how exciting this was. Double-decker commuter trains where you can buy your ticket on the train. It's like Switzerland!

11:48 - Visiting the Bean, my new favorite piece of public art. Who doesn't love this? It's such an easy crowd-pleaser. That's Christine and me down there in the lower left.

11:50 - Me, kaleidoscoped on the underside of the Bean. Would that make it the seedy underbelly?

12:30 - The fancy seventh-floor food court at Macy's, aka The Artist Formerly Known as Marshall Fields. My poor road-food-saturated self was so happy to see the greens and goat-cheese salad I ate.

2:54 - American Gothic. I once saw this sculpted life-size in butter at the Iowa State Fair, though the real thing is almost as cool. Christine tells me I need to work on my "disapproving" face. Apparently I look like I'm going to spit out something disgusting.

5:20 - Giordano's for Chicago-style pizza, with checkered tablecloths and everything. It was delicious, though it appears that Zachary's is a pretty good imitation. So that's a relief.

6:34 - The bridges in Chicago make me feel like I'm in High Fidelity, even at night.

7:02 - We missed the train back to Mount Prospect and had to console ourselves with cinnamon cream cake. Oops.

8:45 - This should be called Portrait of the Easiest Houseguests Ever. Give us our laptops, and we're low-maintenance.

Good day. Nice to meet you, Chicago. Let's do this again some day?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Long haul: Omaha - Chicago

Iowa, basically. (I did get to see some of the red grass Willa Cather writes about in My Antonia, which was cool. This observation has been brought to you by Lit Nerds Anonymous International.)

A note to future road-trippers: Long drive getting you down? Plug your laptop into your car speakers and watch/listen to old episodes of Gilmore Girls. (The keen-eyed and geek-hearted will recognize this as "The Lorelais' First Day at Chilton." We started at the beginning, as one should.) Best time-killer ever.

The mighty Mississippi.

As a reward for our days of hard driving, Christine and I took ourselves and our lovely Chicago hostess out to the (apparently) famous Bob Chinn's Crab House for fresh King Crab legs and dorky photographs. For food porn, see below.

The fork here doesn't really give a sense of scale. These crab legs were huge. And I ate all of them, and I don't regret it at all, because this was a top-ten-worthy meal. Maybe worth driving to Chicago for, and that's saying something.

Tomorrow: A day of rest/museum-hopping in Chicago. Much-deserved.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Long haul: Estes Park - Omaha

So, first things first: the Rockies are gorgeous. Look! Look at the mountains! And then you come around some random bend and there's a whole HERD of elk. Everywhere. Crossing the street behind you, looking all freaked out. (Also, bighorn sheep.) See?

You'll note that all of the pictures here are of Colorado, and that we actually drove across Nebraska as well. This is partially because my camera battery ran out, and partially because the Cornhusker State and I are on what might be considered chilly terms, mostly because of the weather. Like, it might have tried to kill us. Also, a lot of it was in the dark. So we'll have to start the Midwest tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow: Chicago! (Assuming the weather is nice, which is a big assumption. We may be doing Winterset, Iowa instead.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Long haul: Salt Lake City - Estes Park, CO

This was a good day. Truthfully, any day that begins with a waffle-maker at breakfast, continues with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (live!) and a stuffed penguin from the Shackleford expedition, and ends with soup and bread in a hotel room in the Rocky Mountains can't be all bad. To wit:

The choir. I *guess* they were okay, if you like that perfection stuff. (CAYAC could totally take them, for we are small but scrappy.)

The Mormon temple. I can't go in, being neither Mormon nor male, but hey. They've got a cool golden angel up there, so that's something.

Utah. I kind of expect John Tesh to show up, don't you?

Little America, kitschy mid-Wyoming pit stop extraordinaire. I assume they got the sign wrong; shouldn't it actually read "Real America"?

An actual penguin from the Shackleford expedition, which was supposed to have been live but, uh, failed in that regard. Maybe Little America had something to do with it.

Wyoming. This is the whole thing. But check that weather!

Catch you tomorrow in Omaha.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Long haul: Oakland – Salt Lake City

Today, I left California and became homeless/on vacation/crazy for leaving. Here's what it looked like:

(Donner Lake, where the "People ate other people here!" plaque had, regrettably, been stolen; the old man in the parking lot did not seem totally sure that Christine and I hadn't taken it from under his nose. Like we have that kind of trunk space right now.)

Tomorrow: Estes Park, Colorado (weather permitting), or bust!

Monday, November 03, 2008

The real reason I have to move

After three years, I just reached the bottom of my stack of New Yorkers in the bathroom. Time to go!