Monday, March 05, 2007

Random thoughts from Regina

That's right - I'm in Regina. Just an overnighter this time. I have to make a presentation at an all-day conference tomorrow, and then I fly home in the evening. The kids will barely notice I'm gone. A few thoughts on this mini-journey...

No matter how many times I fly, I never get tired of that moment of exhilaration and amazement when the plane lifts off the tarmac. Give me any scientific explanation you want - it still feels like magic that a big hunk 'o metal can get off the ground.

My cab driver this morning was from Ethiopia. I'm not usually very chatty in taxis, especially at 6:30 in the morning, but I had a feeling he was from Ethiopa (his feature's told the tale), so I asked. It was frightfully cold in Winnipeg this morning. I wonder if his heart doesn't ache for the Ethiopian sunshine.

I've ordered room service twice since I've been here (late breakfast and late lunch) and BOTH times, they forgot something I ordered. Not a very good track record so far. (Note: I hardly ever order room service, as I normally love to wander around whatever city I've landed in and discover some lovely local restaurant, but the weather here is as miserable as it was at home and I'm stuck in one of those boring business hotels in a nondescript section of the city. I'd have to walk pretty far to find anything interesting.)

The second time the room service guy came to my room, Oprah was on TV and one of her guests was talking about diaphrams and masturbation (it was a show on women aging. Hmmm... what google searches will THAT bring to my blog?). The poor room service guy shuffled rather uncomfortably while I signed the check. He could hardly exit fast enough.

It's been extremely rare that I've watched any daytime TV since I've worked full time days all of my adult life, other than a few years in university and my maternity leaves. Oprah's program was mildly interesting, since I've tipped over the 40 line, but then Dr. Phil came on and I had to turn the TV off. Is it just me, or do you find Dr. Phil at least mildly annoying? I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something smarmy and just a tad arrogant about him. (Forgive me if he's your personal hero or spiritual guru.)

Lately, it seems, my favourite book choices have been memoirs. I've enjoyed the last two that I've read (Eat, Pray, Love and The Year of Magical Thinking), but I really think I need to look for some by people who lead less privileged lives and can't afford to jet all over the world on a whim. It's getting a little depressing. Any suggestions? Maybe something by and ordinary woman trying to juggle career, family, relationships, etc. Course, the publishing companies probably don't publish many of those, 'cause they're just not glamourous enough. (I just realized that the one before that was Left to Tell, by a woman who survived the Rwandan genocide - a decidedly less privileged life.)

That being said, both women (Elizabeth Gilbert and Joan Didion) said some brilliant things that will stick with me for awhile. I quoted Gilbert in a recent post, and I may quote Didion one of these days too. Her thoughts on grief have refreshed my memories of losing dad, and gave me more than just one epiphany.

Speaking of Joan Didion, her novel Democracy was one of my favourite reads in university. There was something delightfully refreshing about her writing style. I also remember the lovely little thrill I got when she introduced a country I'd never known existed (Kuala Lumpur). It had this great affect on my wanderlusting heart that there were places in the world that I hadn't learned about in high school geography classes that I could possibly some day explore.

I just saw a short report about two small kids (I think they're 2 and 4) who were being taught by their relatives to smoke pot. They have video clips of the grown-ups holding the joints in the kids' mouths. Seriously - were some people born WITHOUT BRAINS? Who DOES that? And do those kids have any hope of growing up reasonably well-balanced?

Who is Tara Grant and why has she taken over all the news programs? With so many millions of stories happening all over the world, and lots of them involving equal amounts of the mystery, tragedy and pathos, sometimes it baffles me which ones get picked for the media (and consequently the public) to obsess about.


Gina said...

My favorite memoirs are not by a woman, but by James Herriot, I don't know if you've already read the "All Creatures Great and Small" trilogy. Oh, there might even be four. But they are funny, touching, and well-written.

Pamela said...

I haven't watched the news so I better find out who Tara Grant is.

I heard about the pot smoking toddlers. Thought the parents should be jailed.
I've heard of Kuala Lumpur for two reasons. 1st, there is conjoined towers that were in one of the James Bond Movies.
2nd, my friends that live in Indonesia have talked about visiting there

I would have asked the cab driver what brought him there -- away from his homeland?? or did you ask that??

Anvilcloud said...

I agree that there's something about Dr Phil these days. I used to like him, but I'm finding it harder and harder these days.

Lucia said...

Enjoyed reading this...but got nothing' to say (probably because I'm sitting in an airport). I do love that you got an Ethipian cab driver!

Liz said...

I agree with Gina. Those books are great.

As for Tara Grant, I think people are strangely drawn to gruesome crimes, and a husband "dismembering" his wife is pretty darn gruesome. Especially since 2 young kids are involved.

juniper68 said...

Hey, I'm going ot put Eat Pray Love on my list at the library. It looks great!

I'm reading Miss Alcott's Email right now, and it's a bio of Louisa May, sort of, and intertwined with it is the author's figuring herself out (mom, kids, not a jet setter as far as I can tell so far - 50 pages in). It's good writing and I can recommend it based on the beginning.

Anonymous said...

I read both those books last year too! I have a habit of not finishing books so everything I'm reading now is half-finished. But I read Didion's book twice. Please let me know if you find any memoirs that are about "regular" women - I'd be interested to read those too!

Michele said...

Tara Grant? dunno but after reading liz' comment, maybe i don't want to find out more.

Dr. Phil? A simple case of too many people thinking he's right. It's gone to his head, I believe.

Michele said...

Heather? Must be a world traveller, she's in Regina after all.

Janet said...

What a great piece! As you know, I could live right along with you as you described your time in the hotel room! I really enjoyed this one. You have such a way with words!

And your mention of Ethiopia...I can't help but think of you when we follow the saga of the missing Britons (and others) in the north of the country. Thank God your trip went fine, and you got home safely.


BarnGoddess said...

Tara Grant disappeared, was reported missing after 5 days by her arrogant husband who proclaimed he had nothing to do w/ it. LE finally got a search warrant last weekend, searched the Grant home and found tara Grant's torso in the garage. Her body parts strung out in a park (some of them). The couple had 2 young children still in the home. The husband took off and was found in NMI in Wilderness Park. Awful story.

Dr. Phil annoys me to NO END!

Vicki said...

I enjoyed reading your thoughts from Regina. Thank you.

I don't like Dr Phil either. He annoys me.

Wish you were there long enough to send a post card. =)

Hedge of protection around you as you travel home.

Hope said...

Isn't all of Regina, non descript??? And you don't have to walk far to see anything important, you are Saskatchewan... remember. Just look out any 3rd floor window and you can darn near see the whole province.
Ok they have Waskana Park, but last time i visited it was so not the city of my childhood.
I also get the feeling that something magcal has happened at lift off.
have a Safe flight home.