Friday, 18 January 2008

up up and away!

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about all of this. A year ago I was cross for not having done it sooner, six months ago I was excited, a week ago I was manic. I fully expected to freak out at the airport and cry on the plane, but it didn't happen. Maybe it's just that right now it still feels like a holiday. Actually, what it mostly feels like is that I've got a giant cosmic remote and have just pressed pause on my usual life in Adelaide, and all of this is just a sidestep rather than the new way forward.

The plane trip itself was alright - both better and worse than expected. 24 hours in a big cramped airconditioner actually feels longer and more horrible than I thought it would, but the fact that said airconditioner had on demand movies, tv, and music made things a lot better, because if anyone can watch a screen for that long straight, it's me. I finally got around to seeing Ten Canoes, and the last few episodes of the Vicar of Dibley. LAX was nasty (like a big unfinished warehouse-maze), but surprisingly straightforward and all of the security people were friendly and welcoming. As was George W's photo as I stepped off the plane...

The little bit of America that I've seen so far I've quite liked. It's a bit weird, because I have a lot of preconceptions of the US and some of them are quite true, but others aren't and it's not always what you'd expect. The people so far have been really friendly and nice and I don't feel like I'm in danger of being shot at any given point (although apparently there's a stabbing/shooting going on in a preschool across town right now...). There are a lot more black people than I expected and I keep getting momentarily surprised when they don't have african accents like at home (der) which is upsetting my self-image of open-mindedness. There are also lots of hispanic people, and I saw a hasidic jew, but I'm yet to see anyone muslim. The people aren't as fat as I expected - about the same as Oz I would say (which is disappointing because I was all prepared to feel like Ms Skinny for a fortnight) but the food is huge. I just bought a 750mL bottle of water which was the smallest I could find. The houses look just like in the movies - big two story wooden things painted prettily - although Andrew tells me that his neighbourhood is quite posh and it's not actually like that everywhere. The roads are really wide, and while I can (mostly) accept the fact that the cars go the wrong way, I keep trying to get into the driver's side when aiming for the passenger's seat. The emergency vehicles are really quaint and look like they came straight out of the 50s. The traffic lights say 'walk' and 'don't walk' rather than the little men, just like in Sesame Street. There is a lot of medical advertising here (to the point that across from the airport Macca's there is an ad for in airport cholesterol and blood sugar testing!). The airports are crazy big, and although the security is a bit more regimented and time consuming (big lines, shoes off through security etc) you can actually take a lot more on the plane (tools up to 7 inches and knitting needles!).

So far I haven't actually done much, because I only arrived yesterday afternoon, and today I'm back at the airport again heading for San Francisco. Andrew took me out for dinner at a pizza place which was pretty good, and the pizza was quite comparable to Australia (apparently this is what recommends it, and is not the usual fare, or traditional Chicago pizza). They also had pasta on the menu, and it seems like the concept of 'pasta' here is much broader and incorporates anything vaguely noodle-like. Kung Pow fettucine anyone? They also carded me (which hasn't happened for so long it was actually kind of novel rather than annoying) and since I didn't have any ID they wouldn't let me have a beer, so I ordered a lemonade instead, which turned out to be lemon cordial. Today at the airport I had a Big Mac meal because I figured any airport food would be just as bad and now I can compare...The burgers taste just the same (although is it my imagination or do they usually have sauce?) but you might as well drink diet coke because corn syrup turns out to taste like aspartame anyway. You can get an extra sandwich (burger) with your meal for just $3.20! Which goes some way to explaining the need for the airport cholesterol testing.

It's really cold here, and was actually snowing when I arrived which was awesome since I've never seen snow before. It's kind of floaty like bubbles or dust bunnies and (contrary to popular opinion) I think the novelty will take a long time to wear off. Hopefully it will snow a lot next week and maybe I can make a snowman and ice skating. The cold on the other hand didn't take long to wear off at all. It was so refreshing when I first got out of the airport (after excessive heating and recycled heating for 24 hours) and it's a nice dry crisp kind of cold, but I am cold-blooded by nature and by golly it is COLD here. Many minuses of degrees whether you're counting in Cs or Fs. Mary Janes and cotton socks just do not cut the mustard and I'm glad I brought my boots. Andrew took me to the Bunnings of coat shops, and I bought a new big grey duffelcoat. Since everywhere's heated, you can't actually just layer up and wear lots of clothes, so a big warm outer coat is something of a necessity.

Anyway, I'm off to San Francisco now - on the plane (yet again) as I write in fact. The temperature there should be about like an Adelaide winter, which means that I should be able to just wander round and see what's what, which it turns out you can't do in minus whatever. Hopefully I will have more interesting stories and some pictures next time.

(Update: arrived in San Francisco ok - made it from the airport to the very nice hotel. Accidentally walked through a DODGY part of town to get there [hello! homeless people!] and the SF train system is just like Adelaide's only more expensive, slower and more run down. Apart from that haven't seen much so stay posted.)

1 comment:

Molly said...

Em!
SO fantastic to hear from you!!!
I am already impressed with your overseas blogging skills :o)
It sounds like you are having a fabbo time so far. Reading your post reminds me that my fave way to get to know a new place is to eat out & explore the supermarkets :-P And I totally feel you with having your image of open-mindedness being upset. Happens to me a lot!
Snow sounds amazing! I've never seen snow fall and i love your description! I hope you get to see heaps more (from the heated comfort of some nice cafe or bar, eh)
Ok, I'll stop rabbiting on now.
SO wonderful to hear your update! Can't wait for the next installment!
Take care!
Much love,
Molly.