Monday, May 12, 2008

weekend report

Well, I'm thankfully fully recovered from the virus from hell. I recovered sufficiently by Thursday, just in time to take a final I was ill-prepared for on Friday. But I'm still working on papers until 5/16. After which, I will take two days off (it being the weekend and all), and...go back to work to my dissertation research and editing articles and working on a conference paper. Hmm. Looks like it'll be a fun summer.

I did take a nice break yesterday with TD. I love road trips and weekends away, even if it's just for one day. If it's a full week, it's hard for me not to leave the laptop behind and not feel guilty. But weekends are totally awesome, and half weekends are better than nothing. Yes, of course I am working now, at least when I'm not blogging.

The secret to a good road trip is to find someone you can talk to or not talk to. This sounds suspiciously familiar to the May-December of next year relationship depicted in Christopher Guest's Best In Show, in which Jennifer Coolidge's character was trying to explain the solid foundation of her relationship to a plugged-into-a-ventilator J. Howard Marshall type: "We both love soup. We can talk, or not talk....in fact, we can talk, or not talk for hours." It is true that if you are unable to converse with someone for a sustained period of time, and do not consider what they say to be interesting, thought-provoking, and/or funny, you are better off not talking to them at all. However, that is usually the case if you only have soup in common. Harder for most people to accept is that conversation is not a contact sport of brinksmanship. It is okay if you don't talk, especially on road trips.

Traveling with TD reminds me of traveling with The Best Friend or JRO. Super fun and interesting, but thankfully with periods of downtime and silence. It's the best feeling in the world, to be in the car with your best friend and enjoy their presence, whether actively engaged or passively. Enjoy it while you can, before you have children, who are never really passively enjoyed unless they are unconscious. TBF and I listen to NPR, while JRO and I listen to books on tape. TD and I listen to baseball games. Unfortunately, being a visual person w/r/t sports, I have no idea what they are saying. So I look out the window and feel really happy to see pretty scenery, draft blog posts in my head, consider the structure/agency/culture debate in organizations, and figure out future paper topics. For my next trick, I am thinking of researching the gendered/racial effects of salary negotiations.

But anyway, back to the weekend. It was really great, even if short. I am quite fond of pretty scenery and good food, and am opening myself to having new experiences and learning new things. TD provided an awesome itinerary for all of this. The secret to traveling with him is to always pack enough toiletries for a few days, a bathing suit, a passport, a change of clothes, hiking shoes, a fleece jacket, and a dress and decent shoes. And that's the bare minimum, even if just for a day or weekend, especially if your credit limit is as small as mine is--so buying along the way is not as much of an option.

Stuff I learned/did:

  • Expensive deli stores are really expensive. Like, ouch.
  • Picnics are awesome, and he reminded me why I have an irresistible urge to say "pic-a-nic"--Yogi Bear!
  • I love presents, but am not good at asking for them or saying I want them. Thus, I kept trying to bargain down from one expensive thing to the less expensive thing. Figuring that spas/massages are too much of an indulgence to ask for on someone else's dime unless it's your birthday or something, I rejected that option. It sounds less like a shared experience anyway, and a relaxing, restorative effect that would likely be ruined by this week hunched over my computer. So I voted in favor of going to a hot spring, the other option. I saw a picture of Amber doing that in Iceland, and I figured that it was just like taking a bunch of hot baths, which are probably good for relaxing all the muscles strained last week working while sick. Verdict: hot springs are awesome and actually quite relaxing, and they feel good. "Clothing optional" zen-retreat hot springs are hilarious and exercises in verbal restraint, particularly if you have a rather juvenile sense of humor. And by "you," I mean me. The human body is indeed diverse in its shapes and forms, and yes, we should all celebrate that. I celebrate that by vowing never to get a tattoo or odd piercing. I always wondered who actually shopped at all of the Tibetan/"world" market stores that abound here, and lo, I have the answer. Also, now I know to whom the spiritual self-help book market caters to, and thus who reads Pema Chodron and Thich Nhat Hanh and who goes to the retreats where Steven Seagal lectures on Buddhism. Also, it is very hard to keep quiet and not giggle in the "meditation only/silent" areas, which are like all of them. Finally, it does feel silly to be the only tools in the place wearing bathings suits, but having grown up with a strict Asian father in a Puritan household, I am just not down with getting nekkid. But it is an interesting and mind-broadening experience to be confronted by so much nakedness, and it kind of reminds me of how sheltered and untraveled my upbringing has been, what with the poverty and the strict dad. Well, no time to start new adventures and experiences than the present, and it's never too late to learn.
  • Speaking of learning, treading water is HARD. My problem is that I can't relax, panic, and work too hard to flail about. But I think I might eventually learn.
  • Trying to crash the most exclusive, fancy, this-is-my-monthly-rent restaurant in the region is fun. By crash, I mean we walked up, in case someone had suddenly died and canceled their 6:30 pm reservation. They were unfailingly gracious and warm and almost apologetic when they said that there was no opening, making me want to come back there. However, it is way too expensive for me to ask to do that (I am just not "that girl," much less suggest it, but it is good to keep in mind several years from now, when I'll be a full tenured professor who has paid off most of my staggering educational debt.
  • Wine is not something I really enjoy, sad to say, after years and years of trying. I like champagne though. And mojitos and certain mixed drinks. This is ironic, considering where we were traveling through.
  • I'm usually in a hotel by myself at some conference in a random city, lonely and disconnected, in the cheapest motel I can stay at and still get to the conference which can be even more depressing. But, as I've discovered, hotels can be nice and pretty and make you feel good at the end of a long day. Company is nice.
  • Frogs creep me out, and I did not know this until Saturday. The hotel had a large man-made lagoon in its center, and I had never heard frogs in real life before. They are CREEPY. On TV, in the movies, even in nature shows, the audio-editing seems to focus in on one frog, and its plaintive warbling cry seems tolerable. Apparently, frogs hang out together in the hundreds, and together, their chorus of plaintive warbling cries seem to signal death and despair, as irredeemable as human evil. Also, though it was perhaps because we were walking to the lagoon, the croaks seemed to grow louder and more ominous, as if to surround and suffocate us in their misery, until oppressed by the sound we sank where we stood till the darkness descended. Fortunately, the door to our building was not far away. I also had fears that the frogs would just jump on me, until I became immobilized by being icked out from the slimy moist skin covering my flesh and suffocating my breathing orifices, but they thankfully do not jump two stories. However, apparently it can rain frogs, and that totally freaks me out.
  • Fish tacos are awesome, especially from a roadside stand. Also, chocolate shakes and sweet potato fries.
  • There is no constant heuristic for what I consider to be a memory I wish to record visually, and for what I consider to be too special to transpose into any tangible form. Touring scenic vistas that are hard to capture in photographs (unless you are aerial) are kind of like this, which is why I should get into better shape and start mountain climbing. More than that though, Saturday was so great, that it feels better to keep it in my head as a series of disconnected mental images and sounds and touches that, because I did not record them, are potentially lost to the inexorable decay of memory. It feels more precious that way, in a way. I become careless with those memories I record obsessively, frame by frame, moment by moment, as if everything picturesque or every experience must be documented, or else it did not happen. Once recorded pictorially, I need not remember the day, not really, or think about the day as I am now. Occasionally, it is good to let things just happen. I would not want to feel like the Danaides, trying to hold onto memories like water in a sieve.

That was all on Saturday. Every day with TD is an adventure, even just one day. As I've said, I'm back to work. I'm busy with papers still, so I will defer blogging on the great question of public/private law/public ordering for the week, and will instead probably post up (not too frequently) various bits of paper musings on organizations and the law.

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