Air Travel


Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic is reporting on Al Qaeda’s first English-language magazine.  It’s based out of the Arabian Peninsula, called “Inspire,” and is aimed at the millions of Muslims who speak English as a first or second language.  A U.S. official has confirmed that it appears to be authentic.  And we all thought publishing was dead! (more…)

I take great pleasure in helping out people looking for directions or guidance, in so far as I am able.  Here in London, exasperated tourists will approach me with varying  degrees of English competency on the regular, looking for assistance in locating their destination; I am always delighted to point them in the right direction, when I can, drawing maps on a notepad or even walking them partway if I have nowhere important to be.  Even though this is not my home country, this is just good hospitality, and I like to do my best to send folk on their way with a positive impression, just as I rely on fellow Londoners to help me out when I’m in an unfamiliar part of town.  I am a big believer in asking for, and offering, directions.

So this is, as I said, just good hospitality, and ultimately good karma.  It’s not a big city, but it is a busy and twisting one, and we all need a little help from time to time.  I was recently thinking, however, about the people I call Travel Angels.  These are the people you meet in the course of your journey who go far out of their way to assist you, and leave you with a warm feeling in the pit of your belly, the people who replenish your basic faith in humanity, however grand or small the gesture.  These gestures are always poignant, but especially so in a foreign setting when you are wary of your vulnerability.

This is more than essential kindness, and more than giving directions.  These acts require the Angel to take time away from themselves to see you safely to your destination, or extend their welcome to the point of invitation into their own lives.  It’s the person who sees you on your own in an unfamiliar place and invites you to a Lebanese family supper, or offers to drive you 30 miles out of their way (both experiences from my own life).  With that thought, I wanted to detail four instances of Travel Angels and invite you to share your own.

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Note: Not me, I just relate to the face.

Yesterday I was really tired from a tedious Sunday flat-cleaning, still nursing a tinge of hangover from a weekend wedding, and my left eye was studiously applying itself to the development of an infection via clogged oil glands.  The main reason this was different from a typical Monday was that I had a hot job interview scheduled this morning (Tuesday) with the COO of a company in which I’m quite interested.

In preparation, I spent time reviewing their website and sector, but was admittedly feeling mentally fuzzy and physically icky.  Saturday champagne and Sunday bathtub-scrubbing make for dreary Mondays, especially combined with client tantrums and not enough rest.  Obviously, I needed to whip myself into interview-ready shape, like a Cosmo article for your most fab, fearless self, but without the ice cube enemas or whatever it is they prescribe.

The one thing for it, I sensibly decided, was a solid night’s sleep, especially given that the interview was at 7:30 am and I needed to get up extra early to anchor-bob my hair and pretend to be someone who is professionally pert at the ass-crack of dawn.  I was home from work Monday by 7:00 pm, ate a high-protein dinner, painted my nails, and ironed made my boyfriend iron my blouse in readiness.  By 9:30 pm, I was tucked into bed with a “demanding” Sudoku puzzle and an Introduction to Venture Capitalism.  Normally, that would be sufficient to dull my senses towards comatose, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  A refreshing sleep was crucial, so I took a quarter of Clonazepam to aid my efforts.  Ahem. (more…)

I went to Malta for five nights over the Easter holiday and have subsequently shifted through the 200+ photos from the trip trying to determine what might be worth sharing with my family or possibly posting about.  Although I know next to nothing about automobiles, I am an appreciator of classic vehicular aesthetics, and so writing about the buses in Malta is an imperative – I’ve never come back from a holiday with 10+ pictures of buses before, but this was exceptional.

The Boy and I stayed in Qawra on the northern part of the island, which we quickly discovered was not as happenin’ as more central areas like Saint Julian’s Bay, Sliema/Paceville, or even Valletta, the capital.  Fortunately, the bus service was cheap, accessible, and charming (for the most part).

The buses in Malta are, in a word, supercool.  They reminded me of the Weinermobile, as they are painted mustard yellow and hotdog orange and have excellent chrome detailing.  We took six or seven different buses during our stay there and while they ranged in vintage, every one displayed prominent Catholic iconography on the interior, which was actually more appealing than it sounds.  Several of the older buses featured a thrilling hop-on door that didn’t close, so we could see the countryside whizzing past as we barreled down the exceptionally well-maintained roads: (more…)

Note: I am not snarking on this man, but would like to say that the BF's back situation is not quite so dire.

I’m heading off on Tuesday morning for five nights in Malta and a much-needed vacation after a stressful first quarter (what else is new? – oh, I mean that stress-wise, not jetting to Malta-wise – the latter is new).  Our flight is at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am, and we are requested to appear at the airport two hours in advance.  To cut down on travel stress, we’ve booked an airport hotel room for tomorrow night, and I intend to head there after work for the luxury of rising at 4:00 am rather than 3:00 am, and the avoidance of taxi/tube/train panic.  Worth £44?  You betcha.

Besides my typical packing freakout (present and accounted for, sir!), I took the opportunity today to engage in pre-vacation grooming.  I opted out of a bikini wax this time in favor of an economically advisable DIY razor-job.  While I have been dreaming of a sunshine and beach holiday, I fear that even Malta will be too chilly this time of year for sunbathing, so I don’t see any point in suffering through a wax when I will likely be clad in jeans and a monochrome tee-shirt for the majority of my visit.

Nonetheless, I have plucked, bleached, and shaved in anticipation – at the very least I am hoping for a Turkish bath and a massage, and, sadly, one wishes to conform to Western beauty standards.  But while I am responsible for my own grooming, it seems I am also responsible for that of my male vacation companion.  I’m not complaining, per se – if one was able to competently shave one’s own back, one would be something of a medical marvel.  But aside from my responsibility for sunscreen, bathing suits, itinerary printouts, and toiletries (all things he has/will forget without my prompting), I am also tasked with boyfriend depilation. (more…)

Howdy People!

Forgive my absence, I have been traveling.  Specifically, I tortured myself for 10 hours in coach this week (never again!) to cross the seas and visit with my dear friend, Tailfeather.  Say hi, Feather..(Hi!)…she says hello.  We have a fantastic week planned, wherein we are doing a little tour of Europe, with culturally fulfilling stops in Belgium and The Netherlands as well as London.  The Netherlands I have been to before, but not Belgium.  London I haven’t been back to since I was a child, so it’s been fun hanging out here the last couple of days.

Earlier tonight, we went to the store to get some essentials (wine, very essential.  also chocolate.) and I found myself wandering the aisles in an nostalgic daze as I saw all the food stuffs of my youth.

The Bigga peas and Devonshire custard my mother used to have in the pantry when we lived in Ireland, the Pear soap and Fairy liquid my Nanna kept by the sink, the jars of Marmite and Bovril and bottles of Lucozade my Grandfather favored.  And don’t even get me started on the sweets!  Quality Street!  Crunchies!  MALTEASERS!!   (Contented sigh).  Ahh, memories, like the corners of my mind.  Tell me, what products remind you of your childhood?

 

*Oh, the food item above is NOT one of the fond childhood memories, it was just too bizarrely offensive not to share.

 

Big news, BCP Friends, so gather round.  I have an announcement.  I, Tailfeather the Neurotic, am taking the plunge.  I am throwing caution to the wind, I am running with the metaphorical bulls, I am skydiving into a kiddie pool filled with Kool-Aid.  I am allowing the Boy Person to move in with me.  I am nervous.

Never a big fan of commitment, this is a big deal for me.  It took eight months of dating before I could use the word “boyfriend” – I actually just prefer to call him my “person” or even “partner,” the latter of which is acceptable in the UK and I kind of like because it makes me think of cowboys in tight Wranglers and weathered hats.    

cowboys

Howdy indeed.  Anyway, I am nervous for a number of reasons, the principal of which is commitment-phobia and loss of freedom.  Smart or not, I think a lot of my adventures (both real and imaginary) have been tied to romantic relationships and travel.  I went to France, met a Swedish boy, and fell in love.  We were together for over two years, trans-Atlantic.  I have dated men from Scotland, Venezuela, Ireland, Honduras; I have dallied with boys from Israel, South Africa, Italy, Colombia, Croatia, Mexico, Germany, Australia, Palestine, Canada, and Queens, New York.  I met a Spaniard in Prague and traveled with him.  I have a taste for the exotic and the promises of the unfamiliar, and living in such an international city as London makes the skin on the back of my neck prickle with excitment.  My life isn’t on a set course yet, and I savor the buzz of possibility I feel here, surrounded by foreigners and the potential for new places, new experiences. (more…)

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