I suck at keeping up with this thing. Therefore, I provide here a mostly-complete update before I have to once again retreat for the evil that is school. I spent a good deal of late July and early August simply taking time for myself. I made a to-do list, and I used it. I cleaned up my office (most of the way). I handled some obnoxious financial badness, and also took some positive steps to clean up our finances without requiring disaster conditions as impetus. I took wedding photos for a friend of my mother, did loads of Spanish, and prepared for the upcoming school franticness - I always know it's coming, and I'm never ready. Then, last week, I flew out east. I flew from Omaha to Chicago to Boston on Monday, and landed early Tuesday morning. (As in, a few minutes after midnight.) I was slated to be delayed on my first flight enough to make me late for the second, so United booked me on a couple American flights, then proceeded to try to dick me out of the miles. (I still have to mail them the boarding passes to get credit for the flights.) Well-kept Boston secret: the shuttle from the airport to the train station stops running long about midnight. P.S. so does the train. My original transport with Kara from plane-landing-place to bed-sleeping-place fell through, so the plan was to take the shuttle to the train (subway, I suppose: do not call it either of these things when you are there, for it is the T, and if you call it something other than this, you will get funny looks) and the <strike>train</strike> T to the MIT campus to chill until Live Entertainment became available (i.e., the person I was visiting made it back to town). So I hopped on the wrong shuttle, and I wound up at the Chelsea Employee Station. Yes, it seemed a touch odd that everyone on my shuttle seemed to be an airport employee, but I chalked it up to hopping on around midnight - shift change time, yeah? Anyway, the very nice shuttle driver - Alberto - chatted with me for awhile (my favorite bit was discussing the many ways Spanish has to tell a woman you love her) and took me back to the airport to wait for the 4:30am shuttle to the 5:00am T. The only food open was a Very Suspect Dunkin' Donuts With No Shortage of Ghetto But a Definite Shortage of Croissants; I bought a twisty glazed donut, then a few hours later, an everything bagel with cream cheese. (It is strange how different "everything" tastes, out that-a-way.) And copious amounts of coffee, of course. I read the rest of American Gods (which I started on the plane), finishing just in time to catch my shuttle. (Reading American Gods and other Gaiman-foo on the trip has made me itchy to write. I have story ideas. This always happens when I fly.) Shuttle to the T station, blue line to the green line to the red line to Kendall/MIT station. I got off there around six in the morning, then proceeded to wander aimlessly, no thanks to a couple of helpful folks who, when queried, told me that MIT was "all over [there]". I struggled until normal-ish business hours to find a restroom, eventually finding one at the Coop. And a wireless internet connection, courtesy MIT! I took an amusing video to highlight my toilet frustrations, then dorked around online for awhile until stuff started opening. After a couple hours, I grabbed a map and navigated my way on over to 14N to check out the Science Writing graduate program. The lady in the Science Writing department - Shannon Larkin, I believe (and I think she'll forgive me if I'm wrong, as she's aware of how sleep deprived I was when I met her) - was extremely genial and very thorough in describing the program. She didn't seem put off by my tangential train of thought, which might reflect well on her, the department, MIT, or some combination. She was effusive and competent and just nice to talk with. That's so underrated - all of it! As a result of my talk with her, I'm pondering the brutal stabbing of the voice in my head that says, "But I'm tired of school!" and possibly an application to the program. I had lunch at a nifty little (Greek?) place up near Central square, Brookline Lunch. They have an excellent idea for what should be in an omelette, which is to say, everything. Then I hopped back on the T (thanks to my handy week pass) and dashed up to Harvard. Harvard left me completely cold. Everything that felt like home at MIT felt like an overstuffed and still uncomfortable chair at Harvard. Which is not to say that it's a horrible school, or ugly, or even unpleasant - I'm sure people get a fantastic education there, the campus is pretty, and so on. I suppose it was just that: Harvard seemed so conventionally pretty, so uniform, that I was struck by the overwhelming sameness of everything I saw. I like surprises and disconcerting nooks and pockets of space for my many moods, and MIT seemed to play well to that (even if my predominate mood during my visit was tired). So pretty well immediately after arriving at Harvard, I took to the streets and the T tunnels on my tired feet and went back to MIT. I found a couch up in the Writing department, figured out what was up with Kara, and promptly attempted troubled naps. It should probably be noted that I packed light, carry-on only style, to avoid carting around five-piece Samsonite hell during all of this. I had my purse and my laptop backpack, which contained reading material, toiletries (all of the dry variety), clothing, and the laptop. It was really all I needed. So the wandering was not loaded down, but the sleep was hampered by my rampant paranoia; though I was tucked away in a very quiet corner, I was committing some sort of cardinal sin by Traveling With Many Valuable Possessions. Sleeping curled around a backpack is fitful. A few hours and some obnoxious traffic hassles later (5pm-ish, at this point), Kara rolled along my way, and we headed to her place. Recollections get fuzzy, here, but I believe there was showering and Red Bones for dinner, then we struck out on an ill-advised and ultimately failed attempt to find a drag show. Sometime around 11:00pm, I decided that the feet just could not take it anymore, and after nearly 36 hours of nearly-awake, I had to call it quits. Back to the T station, back to her place, and we retired to el bed-o. Wednesday (which, if you're keeping track, was both my second and third day there, sort of), we woke up late, had Indian food that apparently didn't agree with me (but tasted good!), then set off to LUSH for requisite stocking-up-on-bath-foo. We grabbed some henna for our hair while we were there, bought a couple books off a street seller, then pondered going on a duck tour. Given a combination of weather, cost, and lateness, we opted to check out The Garment District instead. It was kind of a bust - little to nothing in the XL+ range, so nothin' doing for me - but looking at obnoxious hats was fun; it was determined I should wear pimp hats, and Kara should wear top hats, particularly ones with Hideous Numbers of Sequins. We then walked home, primped briefly, and drove to the wrong Melting Pot for the gift certificate I had for a Fondue Experience. They honored the certificate, and we had the promised Experience, though I believe I will go ingredient shopping and have the same Experience at home for about a quarter of the cost (perhaps with less capital E). Particularly if I am eating with a vegetarian-or-something-like-it again; there wasn't a veggie in the main course that couldn't have been suitably sauce'd up for five bucks. We went home and henna'd Kara's hair - we were going to both do it, but I think I erred on the thick side with the henna and we ran out almost before we were done with hers alone. Alas. But she smelled yummy and herbal for days after, which was more pleasant Experience (at about a fifth the cost of the Fondue sort, and just as gooey). Then there was more sleeping. I was apparently catching a cold, but I wouldn't be certain about that for a day or so. Thursday, we milled about, showered, packed up, and headed north to Portland to pick up Will. There was much rejoicing and hugging, and then driving in the direction of his new place. We were greeted by the arrival of his bed, and also baby kittens nesting just outside his door, because apparently someone shorted him on his damned cute quota, or wanted to see me convulse and revert to the vocabulary of my babyhood. We proceeded to shop for all manner of home stuffs for him, as his moving strategy apparently involved throwing away anything that appeared to have possible uses in a new apartment. (Tongue firmly in cheek.) Friday was a good deal more of that, plus poking at the Chamber of Commerce for Answers About The Community. This all culminated in sangria-making and some hardcore chillaxing at Casa William. Saturday, we went to Scarborough Downs for lunch and pony-watching. My chaotic influence must have been working overtime, as one of the horses broke free and tried to jet out the service entrance. After lunch and a credit card kerfuffle, we picked up a rental car. We took Kara back down to Cambridge so she could prep for further traveling fun, then proceeded to get hopelessly lost in the death spiral that is driving in the Boston Metropolitan Area. Sam, to the rescue! He helped us avoid driving past Harvard for a fifth time, and to find the evil sign for the right turn we'd repeatedly failed to make - the sign which, against all logic, is located on the far left of a large intersection, through a thicket of trees and several lanes of traffic. I liked Boston. And then I drove in Boston. We fell into bed in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Sunday was a day for relaxing in the most complete way possible. Except that part where there was life stuff that needed sorting, still. We took a little evening drive up to a suburb of Portland to check out a car - one that seemed like a killer deal, but wound up not being it because the seller seemed bent on not allowing a prospective buyer to do diligence, obnoxiously. We looked at another car Monday morning, which wound up being the winner instead. And then we bought me a new bag for my return trip, as my laptop backpack was staying with Will, along with the laptop and such, which he bought. The return trip was a minor nightmare. We packed after we bought the new bag, then drove down to Boston in the rental and dropped it off at Logan, as agreed, then found my gate with plenty of time, so I chatted with Will about the laptop a bit - showed him the essential programs, set up a user account and all that. (This is not the nightmare part, of course.) Then it was onto the flight. For whatever reason, it would only let me check in through my first stop, at New York's LaGuardia International Airport. When I landed, therefore, I had no boarding pass for my next flight. I exited the secure area, hopped on a bus to the other terminal (brilliance) since my second flight (to Chicago) was on United itself, rather than a United affiliate (US Airways). When I got there, I couldn't check in at the carry-on only kiosk - it told me it couldn't process the itinerary change. Itinerary change? I thought. What itinerary change? Turns out my New York -> Chicago flight was delayed by a couple hours - enough to kill my Chicago -> Omaha connecting flight. So, rather than getting me to Chicago and then dealing with it, they stuck me at the end of a long line of similarly delayed folks so as to delay me the maximum amount possible. When I got to the counter, I explained my situation. "Can you get me home by 8:30am? I start a new job." "No," the nice lady told me. And I must have looked sufficiently crestfallen, for that got changed to a, "Well... let me see." She wound up putting me on a flight that was scheduled to be leaving an hour and a half earlier, but was actually leaving ten minutes later than the scheduled time for my originally scheduled flight, which made silly forty minute connection at O'Hare a ridiculous thirty minute connection. A ten-minute-late takeoff made it a stone-stupid twenty minute connection. And so when I landed at terminal C at O'Hare, nineteen minutes before the scheduled takeoff of my final flight (gate F12), three terminals away from said flight and at an hour that the shuttle to the other terminal was no longer running, I hoofed it. I shoved off my plane, I ran down moving walkways and stupid halls that stupidly lacked them, up the up-escalators in defiance of gravity, around corners and passengers. I ignored my burning fucking lungs for my fifteen minute sprint-jog-powerwalk-sprint-jog-powerwalk, only to arrive at the gate and find the door closed. "I'm sorry," the lady behind the counter there was saying to a similarly beleaguered couple. "We have to close the doors ten minutes before takeoff." We had seven minutes left. In the only good news from the entire debacle, the flight crew was negotiated with, we were escorted out onto the plane, and I did, in fact, make it home shortly after midnight, Tuesday morning. I hadn't eaten in about twelve hours, and the Boston -> Chicago leg of my trip had introduced me to the joy of sitting adjacent Boys Gone Wild, a screaming child and his non-English-speaking mother, a woman with the plague, a deaf woman who was apparently surly about said impairment and anyone who noticed it, and a chatty businessman brandishing college Spanish skills with bravado. Taco Bueno soothed my hunger and the immediate sleep once I was fed soothed my surliness. And I made it to my internship on time. So there. </Travelogue> Still vaguely sick with this cold. My internship started this week. Next week: UNO classes, eight credits. Teaching at UNO, two credits. The week after: Metro classes, three credits. I'll be busy, but it's actually a decently happy busy. Ciao, kittens. I'm off to bed.