Sunday, April 21, 2013

If you're going to San Francisco...

Regular readers of this blog know that last weekend Dear Husband and I were in San Francisco so I could give a couple of papers at a conference and so we could have a mini-vacation. Ahead of time, I researched and wrote a series "Poetry and the Pacific" to celebrate the occasion; but as I tried to indicate in editor's notes and quick editing, our travel plans were set topsy-turvey from the beginning. We had to improvise quite a bit. Later I'll post about our time in San Francisco but spare you the details of our return trip, which fell on the same day as that big computer glitch. Here is what happened on travel day 1:

7:55am Left home 10 minutes "late" but arrived at airport in good time since we weren't checking anything. Apparently it is possible to take a sewing needle and a shaving razor through the x-ray machine, but a barrette in your hair will set off the metal detector. I am willing to get dressed again at the airport after removing my shoes, jacket, and scarf to go through security, but I draw the line at doing my hair again! I got a pat down. DH did too, although we're not sure why. Maybe because of his thighs of steel from training for all those half-marathons? (The next one is this coming Saturday.)

8:55am Lingering rain was causing delays at O'Hare. Finally boarded and took off a little late.

Wolkenkrätzer = skyscrapers
10:30am Jogged through two terminals at O'Hare only to discover the second flight was even later. Boarded with confidence and congratulated ourselves on making it after all and on finally being on our way to San Francisco, which we had wanted to visit since getting engaged. Then the captain came on the intercom to announce that a mechanic had broken something, and we might have to change planes.

Shiva as Lord Who Is Half Male, Half Female
(Ardhanarishvara), 14th century, India
We had to change planes. Almost immediately, the flight was cancelled, and an entire plane-full of people had to reschedule their travel. Facing the choice of getting into San Jose in the evening and missing 2/3 of our vacation or shifting our departure and return back by a day (courtesy of the airline), we chose the latter.

12ish Ate burgers for lunch at the airport Chili's. Airline offered to pay for dinner, hotel, and breakfast, and the ticket agent gave us a tip to visit the Art Institute of Chicago while we were grounded.

1:45pm Caught shuttle to hotel. Discovered I had left my laptop in the seatback pocket of the decommissioned plane. Frantically called various official phone numbers. Left a message with Lost & Found. (I have since made many more phone calls and sent many emails. So far no luck.)

2:45pm Caught shuttle from hotel back to airport, where we transferred to the Blue Line to downtown. Giggled about the stops "California" and Damen/O'Hare (Damen und Herren).

Shiva and Uma Seated on the Bull Nandi
in Loving Embrace , 9th century, India
4pm Arrived at Monroe Street. Having entertained a fantasy of attending a Thursday night taping of "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me," we settled for "obstructed view" seats to "Book of Mormon" at the Bank of America Theater.

4:10pm In the meantime, pleased to discover the Art Institute is open until 8pm in Thursdays--and even more pleased so find out about "Free at Five" for Illinois residents. Left museum for an early dinner at the Potbelly Sandwich Shop across the street (a Chicago original).

5pm I didn't want to see any Western art, so we headed for the Alsdorf Galleries of Indian, Southeast Asian, and Himalayan Art to look at Buddhist, Hindu, and Jainist art, mostly sculpture. Reading all the art history descriptions on the labels, I wished for more of a world religions education. DH remembered from reading he has done that being a pantheistic religion, Hinduism was historically relatively welcome to Buddhism. Meanwhile, Buddhists debated how much to deify Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha. My understanding is that Buddism is often practiced today more as a philosophy than as a religion, but I am willing to be corrected in the comments section.

6pm DH wanted to attend the keynote lecture by Oxford historian Christopher Kelly on early Christian appropriations of classical art and culture, "Confronting the Classical—The Making of Christian Art," to celebrate the opening of the new Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art with some items on loan from the British Museum.

7:30pm We concluded our impromptu religions symposium with "The Book of Mormon." A charming psychological coming-of-age story staged as a musical about missionaries in "Uganda," this is a satire, folks, not a documentary. (It's by the creators of South Park.) The salty language and ridiculous propositions were hilarious to the young people sitting behind us who had obviously come to make fun of Mormonism. But the show--which has won 9 Tonys--also prompted more thoughtful questions, like what does the faith of a 9-year-old get you as an adult? Does religion have to be factually accurate, or do metaphors suffice (like "Salt Lake City" as paradise)? The Catholics I talked to during intermission didn't like an early song cursing God for misery, but I reasoned it was easy to miss God in the midst of human suffering. More disturbing to me than some of the criticisms of Mormonism (which are applicable to conservative Christianity, too) was the humor predicated on physical and medical problems--but I suppose that is my personal bone to pick. We probably won't go back to that theater, since the ushers seemed unable to seat anyone on time or properly, but the music for the show was catchy, the acting was quite good, and they collected donations for an HIV charity afterward.

10pm Caught Blue Line back to O'Hare.

11:15pm Caught shuttle back to hotel and a little shut-eye before attempting--and succeeding--to fly to San Francisco, where there is sourdough bread in creative shapes, seafood galore, redwood trees, and much more. sure to wear some flowers in your hair.

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