starlady: Ramona Flowers wearing her delivery goggles (ramona flowers is awesome)
And boy are my arms tired.

No, literally, my arms are pretty tired. I hauled a fifty-pound suitcase of my sister's stuff as well as the suitcase with my stuff and my messenger bag with all my devices and my sister's guitar across the country--double thanks to everyone who rode with the guitar in the car, carried the guitar, and carried crap to/from the car. Of course Delta separated me from my two suitcases after I left Milwaukee, because we got in 30 minutes late to DTW and my connecting flight to Philly was only delayed 15 minutes. I booked it (the terminal A to terminal B underpass is not "just across the hall") and made my connection, though not without unreasonable harassment from the gate agent about the guitar. I ignored her and carried it on and had absolutely no problems. The flight attendants on my first plane were kind enough to put it in an empty row in back. My luggage should be here in about an hour to 90 minutes, I hope.

WISCON!!!!!

I had a lovely time, as usual, even though I arrived later than I'd like and I feel like I didn't get enough time with hardly anyone. The panels I went to were pretty great and I felt like the ones I was on were good. I love everyone in this bar, ice cream shop, vid party, hotel room, etc., and I will see you next year. ♥
starlady: the cover from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, showing an aquanaut in suburbia (i'm a stranger here myself)
I didn't buy the shoes, because I decided if I was going to spend $200+ on shoes I should just put it to a pair of Fluevogs. I did buy the handbag. It's a really nice handbag.

I don't know how to reconcile the ignoble lines my hand was writing with the thoughts of the dazzling light I'd just seen. I had wanted to say to my friend that, since we didn't come from Buenos Aires, he and I were perhaps more sensitive than natives to its beauty. The city had been raised at the limits of an unvarying plain, among scrubland as useless for nourishment as it was for basket-making, on the edge of a river whose single redeeming feature was its enormous width. Although Borges tried to ascribe it a past, the one it now has is also smooth, without any heroic feats other than those improvised by its poets and painters, and each time one took any fragment of the past in hand, it was only to watch it dissolve, into a monotonous present. It's always been a city where the poor were plentiful and where one had to walk with occasional jumps to dodge the piles of dog shit. Its only beauty is what the human imagination attributes to it. It's not surrounded by sea and hills, like Hong Kong and Nagasaki, nor does it lie on a trade route along which civilization has navigated for centuries, like London, Paris, Florence, Geneva, Prague and Vienna. No traveler arrives in Buenos Aires en route to somewhere else. Beyond the city there is no somewhere else: the spaces of nothing that open up to the south were called, on sixteenth-century maps, Land of Unknown Sea, Land of the Circle and Land of Giants, the allegorical names of non-existence. Only a city that had denied so much beauty can have, even in adversity, such an affecting beauty.

     --Tomás Eloy Martínez, The Tango Singer, trans. Anne McLean (136-37)
starlady: David 8 holding the holographic Earth in wonderment. (when there is nothing in the desert)
Win: Coffee and apple strudel at Cafe Margot this afternoon. (Yes, this afternoon. We got up at 12:30. I could really learn to live with this whole "stay up late, sleep late" thing Portenos have going on.)

Further win: Flea market in San Telmo, excellent performance tango at the milonga, walking to Fundacion Proa in La Boca, back to the milonga at San Telmo for more tango and folklorica. 

Fail: C and I's attempt to order the sandwich we saw someone eating at Cafe Margot this afternoon for dinner there this evening, after the parilla we wanted to eat at for dinner originally was closed. We got very sad turkey sandwiches, devoured them, and then ordered a full portion of what v_o ordered for dinner, since we'd eaten about a third of her food too. But the steak was good, and so was the homemade beer. 

Yesterday we saw a lot of art museums (Fortabat and Belles Artes), and I bought an expensive excellent handbag, and I had the best coffee of the trip so far at La Biala, and we wound up hearing a tango singer in a bar while drinking fernet with coca cola after Peruvian food and a swing through the Abasto. We saw a kosher McDonald's in the Abasto! I was not terribly surprised because we walked through the Jewish quarter to get there, complete with Orthodox families strolling around and Hebrew on the buildings, but I have never seen or heard of a kosher McDonald's. This sort of explains the number of kosher sushi places I have seen around, actually. 

All of us Californians are continually sort of amazed at the sky-high displays of ancient bottles in bars and cafes here, as well as the (sometimes vaulted) brick ceilings. C: "I didn't even know you could have a brick ceiling!" I had forgotten. Also when v_o and I had tea at the Proa cafe we felt the building shaking a bit every so often. We looked at each other. I said, "It must be the bus" and we both sort of relaxed. Earthquakes! Tons of fun even when you're not in danger of them!

In sum: I love it here. 
starlady: David 8 holding the holographic Earth in wonderment. (when there is nothing in the desert)
Partly this entry is an excuse to use my new David 8 icon, I'm not gonna lie. 

So, I am in Buenos Aires until next Tuesday night. It is pretty great so far! Between the buses and the subte it is fairly easy to get around and despite the fact that at this point my Spanish knowledge is basically second-hand Latin and Italian I have not had any truly horrible communications failures thus far. Partly this is because I have shamelessly let [personal profile] via_ostiense take almost every opportunity to practice her castellano

Today C and I lazed around until 11 am (v_o had to head out early for her classes) and then we went down the street to a cafe and drank coffee and ate things (medialunas and empanadas, mostly) and then v_o and I went to MALBA, which is pretty awesome and which packs quite a punch with its very well curated permanent collection, though they are between special exhibits right now so the third floor was closed. Still worth the AR $12 student rate I paid, though, despite the "we don't have change" brinksmanship the ticket takers put me through. (Change is worth more than its actual value in some ways because the buses only take change.) We then had ice cream at the deservedly famous Persicco and wandered through Palermo, including to Chicco Ruiz to try on some gorgeous but slightly too quirky boots (the actual buttons are a mixture of circles and squares; v_o had to help me button them), before heading to the only Cameroonian restaurant in South America. It was delicious. 

I really want to get a pair of shoes here, actually. I may well go back to Chicco Ruiz before I leave and buy either those shoes or a different pair if I don't find a different pair somewhere else that I love. 
starlady: roy in the sunset at graveside (no rest for the wicked)
I like travel, but cripes this whole "four states, one end of the country to the other & back with a weekend con in the middle, then Japan!" plan was…ambitious. Not overly so for me, but ambitious. I'm definitely enjoying the prospect of being more or less in one place for six weeks (through the Gion Matsuri on July 17) when I do finally get to Japan next Wednesday.

Anyway! I'm in Wisconsin, I have successfully seen most of my family including my cousin's new house, and I'm told my gate-checked bag will be reunited with me sometime tonight. This is Delta so who the fuck knows if that will actually happen. I smell another complaint-ridden survey form and bonus "we're sorry we suck!" SkyMiles in my future.

But come hell or high water, and even if I have to go back to MKE to get my bag myself, I will be in Madison and at Wiscon tomorrow (morning, I'm still planning)! 

If you're going to be at Wiscon and you need my cell phone number, email or pm me!
starlady: (adventure)
In the event, I never got anywhere near LAX. My bag changed planes there, though! 

Let's back up. I checked in Sunday morning for my flight, but on impulse Sunday night I rechecked my flight status and saw that my PHL-MSP flight had been cancelled and that Delta had rebooked me for the same flight on Wednesday (I still have not received any communication about this from them; if I hadn't checked my flight status I'd have been totally screwed). Given that it's snowing in Philly now and will be snowing tomorrow, I decided to rebook myself on a 6:15 flight from Philly to SJC via MSP on Monday morning. Having gotten up at 3:30 and gotten to the airport at 5:00, we were sitting on the plane waiting to push back when the captain informed us that there was something wrong with the aft door. Forty minutes later, it transpired that the emergency chute was broken, there was no replacement in PHL, and the plane wasn't going anywhere. I stood in the rebooking line for 90 minutes and the woman in front of me got the last seat on the PHL-SFO nonstop flight that afternoon, so I decided to take the seat Delta offered me on the other plane they'd found that was going to MSP and, rather than be sixth on the standby list for that evening's flight to SJC, get a guaranteed seat on the Tuesday morning flight. I spent yesterday and last night hanging out with friends in Minneapolis, it was great except for the fact that I didn't have my checked bag (it went to SJC last night). It snowed the entire time I was there and no one flipped out, it's almost like snow is a normal thing that is possible to deal with! Are you listening, Atlanta!?

Ahem. When I got to the gate in MSP after booking it through the terminal due to delays in security, there was no plane to be seen; eventually they got it out of the hangar and we de-iced and left and got to SJC about 40 minutes late. I wasn't actually angry about any of this until I walked into the Delta baggage office and it turned out that for some reason my bag had gone out on American and the Delta people were too fucking lazy to get it, with the result that I had to take the shuttle to the other terminal to claim it myself and consequently missed the only CalTrain of the hour, so I sat in the rain at Santa Clara for 45 minutes. Eventually, though, I got back to the east bay and my roommate kindly picked me up from the BART station and when I sat down at the dining room table the chair broke under me and I fell on my ass on the floor and I laughed and laughed. It's good to be home, which is what I said when I got into Minneapolis, and it's still true. 

Unfortunately, since there was no four hour layover in LAX, many things I had intended to accomplish are still unfinished. I am going to tackle some of them after dinner. 

All in all, this was one for the record books, even in my jaded accounting. 
starlady: Korra looks out over Republic City (legend of korra)
Somehow (and I would never book this for myself, so I'm inclined to believe that Delta did more than change my departure time) I have a four-hour layover in LAX tomorrow. It's been eons since I've done more than sit on the tarmac while more people board my plane there. Are there any good restaurants in the airport itself? Are the security queues as bad as I assume they are, thus leaving me inclined not to go outside security?

On the upside, I should definitely be able to make a dent in my reading/translation backlog.
starlady: Uryuu & Ichigo reenact Scott Pilgrim (that doesn't even rhyme)
Waiting for the clock to tick down so I can check in for my flight tomorrow (why oh why did I book the absolute last flight out Sunday night? oh wait my alternative was the 6 am redeye. Just watch, next week I will post on here reiterating "never book the last flight out on a Sunday, and that goes triple for Thanksgiving" to myself). 

There's been a lot of talk about the new TSA regulations and procedures; I point you to [personal profile] umadoshi's link post about the TSA and what you can do, and I also point you to this petition demanding that the TSA allow flyers the privacy to which we are entitled, organized by Flyers Rights, an organization that's been doing some useful things for the past year or so.  

Good luck and good travel, everyone who's traveling!

ETA: It turns out tomorrow is National Opt-Out Day. I'm certainly never going to argue that people should voluntarily submit to being molested, but you deserve to know why people around you are doing it in droves on the busiest travel day of the year. I'll be flying out of a fairly small airport; I'm not sure it even has the virtual strip search machines yet, so I'll be making my own decision about this when I get there (two hours early, I'm aiming for). /eta
starlady: "Where's your sister?" "She's on Jupiter, Mom." (sister's on jupiter)
My dad and I met my sister in Milwaukee for a Family Visit last weekend. (Aside from my immediate family and three cousins, all of my relatives live in Wisconsin.) We wound up having a pretty good time, since we were only going for my grandfather's 81st birthday rather than Christmas or a funeral or some high-stress occasion. Despite the fact that I have been visiting Milwaukee since I was six months old and I have been there nine times in the past seven years, there are still things I haven't gotten around to doing. Which, much as I like Milwaukee, says more about our style of visit than the amount of things to do in Milwaukee (though, note, if 1/3 of your party is a vegetarian, some constraint in things to do is unavoidable, because Milwaukee Is for Meat Lovers).

# The Mitchell Park Domes! Were begun in 1959 and dedicated by Lady Bird Johnson in 1967 and are so, so Space Age, it goes right through not funny and comes back around again. My dad remarked several times that the domes hadn't changed since the last time he was there 30 years ago, but my sister and I had never seen them, and they are definitely worth a visit, though the tags on the plants and the style of botanical gardening itself are horribly dated, particularly in comparison with the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, where I went in May. Apparently my grandfather did electrical work on some of them at one point, which is cool.

# Renaissance Books! I go to the airport branch of this store every time I step outside security at MKE, but we'd never actually been to the main branch downtown, right near Marquette, and, wow. Three stories of used books. There isn't a terrible amount of organization, particularly on the first floor (for which reviewers on Yelp hate it), but there are so many books (for which reviewers on Yelp love it), it's awesome. I got a first edition of The Door into Fire and a couple other great books for $7.50 plus tax. Must go back, and if you're in the area, you should go.

# Kopp's! The perennial debate in Milwaukee is whether Kopp's or Leon's is better; I'm just about the only person in my family who prefers Kopp's. But Kopp's is more convenient to my grandparents' house (Leon's is right across the street from my parents' high school, however), and this visit my nefarious plan succeeded, and we went twice: I had red raspberry and then the grasshopper fudge. The red raspberry was superior, and I got my Sprecher's root beer (best root beer in the world) on tap, yum. And the burgers are pretty good too.

My uncle also took us out on Lake Michigan in his boat--it's the first time I'd seen his new one, though he got it like three years ago. Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes are gorgeous, and so was the weather. And it's a good thing we went last weekend, because apparently this weekend there were flash floods.

P.S. For those of you keeping score at home, we were delayed on 2 out of 4 flights. That's actually pretty good.

Photos under the cut, of course. )
starlady: (run)
My dad only today figured out that the bird and I are allied against him.

This post is three months old, but whatever, I wanted to write it. And then in half an hour I am going running and getting off the internet, I am trying to be better about that.

The Bay Area. With pictures.  )
starlady: (run)
So last Friday afternoon I drove down to Silver Spring for Con.TXT. It's been a year since I was down in the DC area, and I was pleased to make the trip in only 2.5 hours, despite a gaper delay on 95-S in Delaware and the fact that the entire Eastern seaboard is under construction (or at least, I'm prepared to vouch for DC to New York, and to bet on New York to Boston; can anyone speak about Boston to the border, or parts south of DC?). Yes, this does mean I drove above 75mph for most of the trip; I made the Gay Steampunk Sherlock Holmes panel, which is the important thing.

A weekend in the District. With cool photos! )
starlady: Carl's house floating above the fields (always an adventure)
1. Never book the last flight out on a Sunday.
2. Don't panic.
3. Never book the last flight out on a Sunday.
4. Don't panic.

Given that getting home before tomorrow night at 11pm involved running through two separate terminals, cutting into the "family and medical liquids" security line, and a $90 taxi ride from SFO to OAK,* I think that I am here at all counts as my good luck for the day.

*I got in the taxi at 12:10 to make a 1:05 flight. My driver earned that $15 tip.
starlady: (heaven's day)
Friends, readers--

What have I been doing again? What haven't I been doing? I seriously have not been this busy, except for one notable week in June 2008, since I graduated from college. Before I forget, holiday card exchange post

# Getting my hair chopped! Yup, went to The Chop Shop in Philly last Wednesday and got it bobbed, since I realized a) that this was probably my last chance before Christmas and b) my first haircut since the middle of June. Which is too long. It was slightly too short immediately afterwards, but now is just perfect, and quite cute. And at $43 with tax and tip, it's the least I've paid for a haircut in at least eight years. Yes, I know.

# Applying to graduate school! I just turned in another app tonight, as well as finished up the last fiddly bits for one of last week's schools (again), and am probably going to do next Tuesday's this weekend, then finish up two of the final three after my credit card statement closes but before the actual deadline. Leaving only a certain Canadian university, of course.

# Christmas shopping! I am now essentially finished. And I only paid full price for two items! How did this happen, again? 

# Going to Minnesota! Yup, I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and had a weekend with friends for $5 roundtrip. Hah. Restaurant shout-outs for this trip are Zumbro in Linden Hills, and Blackbird in south Minneapolis. I really, really love Blackbird (I've been there before)--it's simple but not simplistic, and the food and atmosphere are equally perfect. I actually went for my alma mater's Christmas Fest, which as usual is an orgy of Christmas and top-notch musical performances, though I don't think this year's version was quite as awesome, program-wise, as some of the other four I've seen. But I did get to Goodbye Blue Monday, one of my favorite coffee shops, and get some of my favorite coffee. Yay. Going to Minneapolis always feels like a homecoming, probably because it is my home away from home.

# Watching the Twilight movie, against my will (forced by my friends, which shows that they really are friends). The only scene with any sexual tension is when Dr. Carlisle Cullen bites human!Edward on his pale white neck. Who says dying of influenza isn't sexy? 

# Writing! I finished a draft of my Yuletide story on the plane home last night. Now I just have to revise.

# Working! Started a different temp job today. I can wear jeans and it's full-time, so really, I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

And now that I'm done those grad school apps, I can get back to my to-do list, at the top of which is translating DTB 12. Among other things. On that note...
starlady: (run)
So I went down to DC this weekend to visit my friend M, who like me spent her first year out of college on a research fellowship abroad (in her case, Belgium) and whom I hadn't seen since graduation. It was, in brief, an excellent time.

We went to the Library of Congress, which is simply phenomenal as a building and as an institution. I very much hope some day to secure a reader's pass to the Asian (or even the main) reading room. The Library currently has exhibits about the pre-contact Americas and the founding of the United States, both of which were quite good--though I thought the early America one was better.

We also went to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which is the world's only museum devoted exclusively to artwork by women. It's a great little museum, but I don't think the galleries are well served by the fact that the building is a converted Masonic temple--they could use a redesign. The museum doesn't seem to have any pieces by Artemisia Gentileschi or Mary Cassat, who are two of the most famous women artists I could think of, but it does have pieces by Kathe Köllwitz and by Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun, Marie Antoinette's court painter, about whom I've recently read books, which made me happy. Later in the evening one of M's friends expressed dislike of "balkanizing" women out of general museums, but I found the NMWA's female-centered perspective on art history--and on conditions for women artists in the time periods it described--to be a refreshing, perhaps not corrective, but supplement, to art HIStory as it's taught.

We then went to the National Portrait Gallery, which used to be the Patent Building and which during the Civil War served as the Union hospital in which Walt Whitman volunteered. The courtyard has recently been roofed in an amazing piece of architecture, and I wish we'd had a bit more time to spend there, but I spent most of my time checking out the portraits as well as the special exhibit on Marcel Duchamp, who is one of my favorite artists and who apparently became an American citizen towards the end of his life--the exhibit focuses, fittingly enough, mostly on portraiture by and of Duchamp, with particular attention to his alter ego Rrose Celavy. Transvestism! I feel like since I read Vested Interests it's everywhere, but really it's just that the book opened my eyes. At any rate, the NPG is fantastic--we saw the original Obama portrait print, it's great--particularly the collection of portraits of Civil War figures, and the American art in general. I'm sort of obsessed with the Civil War at the moment, and it was great to see portraits of so many of the major players, particularly Stanton.

After a stop at the Red Velvet Cupcakery (one word: YUM) we saw approximately 1.5 innings of the Nationals vs. the Padres before the game was postponed on account of rain, but there was much beer and burgers to consoles us while we waited and then eventually gave up. On Sunday we went to Eastern Market and had lunch at Market Lunch--the crabcakes are amazing, let me tell you. After that we hiked up to AU for an alumni event from our college featuring one of our professors. It was great to see said professor and to hang out with some fellow alums during and after the event--we had pizza afterward, which always goes down well. 

Seeing M was inspiring in that, well, I need a different and better job. Not that I don't have other things on my plate, but really, I need to get in gear on that front in the next few weeks. Le sigh. Ah well. Wish me luck.

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