Arrived

Los Angeles is one of the most special cities in the world. Even when the weather forecast announces that it’s going to be overcast with possible showers, you can still feel the presence of a bright yellow sun behind the clouds, and within hours the sky clears and that bright orb makes its appearance just in time for a last walk in the sunlight before dusk falls.

Beautiful as it still is and will always be to me, there are things that have changed. Nothing that’s unique to LA, but rather things that have changed across the United States. Melrose, the hip-happening street of fashion, food and fun, has now more FOR LEASE signs that it ever has before. Shutters are drawn across the empty store fronts, and the glass looks dusty, as if it’s been waiting for a new tenant for longer than it’s used to.

When we ate lunch today, a dark-haired, scruffy, tall homeless man walked over to the table behind us and took the tip that was left there for the waitress. We saw it, as did a woman inside the restaurant, and none of us did anything. It seemed to happen so fast. We all were sure he was going to take some item of food, but then he was gone and so was the waitress’ tip. What do you even do in a situation like this?

I’ve been taking photos. Too many, and probably mostly bad ones, but I’m finally going to try to catch some of the essence of this bizarre half-city-half-suburb in more than words.

I’m jet-lagged and exhausted and our trip took more than twenty-four hours. I think now is the time to sleep.

Chicago-Bound

It’s time to get going again. I’m packed, mostly, and my carry-on bag is as of yet non-existent. Those things don’t worry me though. By now, I’m a pro at closing up suitcases and backpacks and getting out of the house and into a waiting taxi at 3AM as I’ll be doing tonight. The thought of boarding a plane and beginning the journey to the United States is what worries me at the moment. Not so much the fear of being struck by lightning [though I must say that plane that disappeared has made me fearful] as much as the fear of tedium and inactivity.

I’ve gone on and on about flights before now, and so I’m not going to tackle this issue now. What I am going to substitute it with, though, is the matter of long layovers. Long layovers that aren’t long enough to warrant leaving the airport, but are plenty long enough to make the travel-time seem just about endless. This is the kind I will have on this flight – a four hour layover in Zurich. The Zurich airport is an odd one – pristine and clean-cut, long [a.k.a endless] hallways leading to the gates and bathrooms that seem to be tucked away from the normal person’s eyesight as if by spite.

However, I’m comforting myself with the fact that my mother and I are both word-lovers, and so we’ll spend our time by doing crossword puzzles and playing the brilliant card game called “Quiddler.” If any of you love words, I recommend you buy Quiddler right now. It’s brilliant.

Hopefully I’ll be writing fairly regularly, and maybe even with interesting stories or tidbits from my trip!

Respectful Fear

Well, I’m in the United States of America, using a new and adorable miniature laptop, also known as a net-book, and finally catching up with this blog. I cannot, sadly, keep up with my usual schedule of all the blogs I usually read – I hardly have time to write, let alone browse at my leisure. However, if I happen to find the time, I will definitely pop over and say hi to you all. Hopefully, I will be forgiven for my lapse of attention for the time being.

I would like to share some thoughts I had while on the long [long, long, long] flight to the US.

Some people are afraid of flying. Mortally afraid. Many know how unreasonable their fear is and how safe air-crafts are these days, but still, something about being so very high up in the air in a vehicle they cannot control on their own – something about all this terrifies them in a way they can’t deal with, and it is enough to make them give up travel to distant countries altogether.

I am not one of these. As one who has traveled back and forth to Europe and the US at least once every year since birth, I suppose I could be considered quite the veteran on airplanes. Heck, I even remember the days where you could go to the back of the plane to a “smoking row” if you so wished. So, as I say, I’m quite confidant about flying.

HOWEVER-

I still believe there is a healthy amount of fear and respect due to a few tons of aluminum that manage to rise into the air and race across the face of the Earth for hours. I suppose you could say that I regard airplanes like I would a horse – handy mode of transportation and all, but hurt it or disrespect it and you might just end up in the mud. And, in the case of airplanes, probably very dead too.

So every time the airplane stars to shake with turbulance, my stomach can’t help but get tied in knots, my jaw clenches of its own accord and my hands squeeze each other for comfort. That’s jut the way it goes, I suppose.

Taking Off

Reader, beware! Following is something that very closely resembles a regular, boring, dull and dreary diary entry by yours truly [if yours truly kept a regular diary.] This is due to weariness of mind and very little time in which to write. Your forgiveness and patience are asked for. Thank you.

Well, it’s April 9th, and at 11:35PM Jerusalem Time, I will be taking off from the state of Israel and beginning the long journey to the United States of America to commence my two week trip of seeing universities and colleges. My excitement is currently a tight ball somewhere on the inside of my ribcage, and is being pushed back by the necessity of keeping my head as I go about the last check-ups of luggage, carry-on bags, and house.

In less than one hour, my mother and I will be entering a taxi with all our baggage and making our way to the airport, where the usual boring routine will commence: check-in, security, passport, one-more-coffee-and-then-bathroom stop, and then finally, the Ritual of Boarding the Airplane.

I am carrying with me a few good Terry Pratchett novels, my notebooks for writing in, my beloved IPod to soothe me and lull me to sleep and a variety of necessities.

Hopefully, I will be able to blog regularly on my trip and perhaps, if I feel it is interesting enough, even tell you anecdotes about my travels.

Halfway ‘Round the World

Flying is a journey that begins hours before it is actually underway with packing, passport gathering, and final checks of house and pets and luggage. Once the keys lock the door and the luggage is in the taxi, it is still only the merest beginning of the ordeal. Airports are no picnic, and the security in Israel is stricter than most places. Young, post-military-service men and women look at the passports in an  appraising, ask if you’ve packed your own bags, and explain that they’re asking because you might have taken something from someone that you deemed innocent but would actually be dangerous.

A few lines, machines, check-ins and difficulties later, the next part of the trip begins: the perils of the Duty-Free Shopping Area. While many are drawn to this most dangerous of all airport pursuits, my mother and I are not among those many – in fact, quite the opposite. While others might stroll up and down the lanes of various James Richardsons and Tommy Hilfigers and The-Tie-Shops, we huddle in the most remote of coffee-shops, sip our beverages, and try to hide from the too-alert-for-this-hour shoppers.

Next, of course, is the constant peering at watches and clocks, the straining of the ears to hear the garbled messages that come over the loudspeaker, and, in the end, the walk to the right gate quite a while before boarding starts, just so we won’t be late. Here, again, begins the process of tickets, passports, lines and shuffling forward one step at a time, until our feet actually set upon the cheaply carpeted floor of the airplane, and we find our cheaply leathered or upholstered seats. Setting our behinds down in those, we ready ourselves for the many, many, many hours ahead.

All this was just the beginning.