travel update

March 17th, 2007 | Uncategorized

Thanks for all your kind advice about my predicament. But I think I’ve got a plan. I was going on vacation on Thursday anyway. An actual vacation, something I haven’t done in years. So I’ve decided to just go early, and fly to New Mexico directly from North Carolina on Monday, without going home first. I spent the whole day on the phone. It’s costing me a pile of money to change my flights, but then it’s costing me a pile of money to just stay put. So why not?

I’m sorry to have dragged you through my little drama.

100 Responses to “travel update”

  1. Deena in OR says:

    So sorry you’re having to deal with all this! And you know, it’s *not* a little drama when you’re living it. If I remember my Maslow correctly, shelter is a pretty basic hierarchical need.

    Enjoy that vacation…I can’t think of anyone who’s earned it more. PDX NW D2WO4 would love to know if you detour this direction during your travels. (smile)

  2. liza says:

    Please go to Santa Fe. Stay at the Inn Of The Turquoise Bear, and tell them I sent you. Gay and beautiful and a ten minute walk to the Plaza. Look at photographs at The Monroe Gallery and Photo Eye Gallery & Bookstore. Go to the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. Eat at Pasquales. Get a massage at 10,000 Waves or Body. Breath in the aroma of the pinon.

    I just adore Santa Fe.

  3. Aunt Soozie says:

    We’ve stayed at the Inn of the Turquoise Bear as well…formerly the home of Witter Bynner.
    The Inn Keepers are great hosts and the house has such an interesting history.

    In Taos we stayed at the Old Taos Guest House, great bed and breakfast…beautiful, peaceful (except for some coyote’s howling at night but that just made it more fun)…great breakfasts…nice people.

    I loved the tour of Georgia O’Keeffe’s home in Abiquiu.
    You can’t bring a camera, no bags at all, no sketch pad…you can’t drive up the little mountain to the house, have to go in a mini bus…in very small groups…it’s great…all quirky and rigid. Makes you feel like you’re doing something really special and precious…it feels almost sacred, being in her space…preserved as it is…and the tour guides refer to her as “Miss O’Keeffe”.

    Okay…enough of my NM travel log…
    I can’t wait to go back…
    enjoy, Alison!

  4. liza says:

    Oh, and of course, The Chuck Jones Gallery in Santa Fe. It’s a cartoon gallery. Fabulous. Mid century classics.

  5. meg says:

    I loved Taos, used to live up the canyon at the Golden Indian. Years ago now. Beautiful country. Go see Elizabethtown if you have the time.

    bari janapar! (literal translation – ‘kind road’, something you much deserve at this point)

  6. MBC says:

    Why do you think we read your blog? We like being dragged through your little dramas – we are your biggest fans, remember? I just can’t believe no one in Charlotte came to your rescue. Next time get stranded in Philadelphia – I have a guest room with your name on it. Enjoy New Mexico!


  7. Twilight says:

    Allison-I live in Taos and it’s a great place to visit. If you’re coming to my area feel free to email me at twilly23atgmaildotcom I’ll give you some ideas on places to visit. We have some amazing restaurants and fabulous galleries.

    It’s been warm and sunny during the day and cool at night. A light sweater will keep you warm.

  8. kommishonerjenny says:

    Your dramas are a great distraction from my dramas, Ms. Bechdel, so really you can envision yourself doing us a service. Have a lovely vacay.

  9. R says:

    what about that burrito in the car!!!, will it be alright whilst you are on holiday, and do you have enough clothes with you?…or will it be case of buying a holiday wardrobe? I wish i was this spontaneous…lol

  10. Jaibe says:

    The burrito will be frozen!

  11. Pam I says:

    Your drama was so real here in sunny Tottenham that last night I had a long and convoluted dream about it. Well it was better than dreams about exams where I haven’t done the homework.

  12. R says:

    Good point Jaibe, as you can see from my earlier posting i am missing the spontaneity gene, yes to the anxiety

  13. Pam I says:

    Being totally ignorant of US geography I had to look up Carolina – it felt like somewhere vaguely in the middle-ish. Fascinating facts – Charlotte is named for Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg, wife of mad king Richard III and great-great-great-great grandmother of our beloved queen. And the metropolitan area of Charlotte has some 1.8m people – surely there must be one or two who can take AB out on the town tonight?

  14. Pam I says:

    History’s a bit slippery too – that should be George III…

  15. Lea says:

    Mecklenburg is definitely worth a visit, too, by the way. speking of mecklenburg- is fun home ever going to be published in germany?

  16. Lea says:


  17. Ian says:

    Oh pur-lease! Stop apologising! 🙂 I’m a gay – I love drama! Although I’m coming round to the possibility that you can have too much of it. Sounds perfect to me – if you can’t go North, go South?

    Pam I – I had to look up Charlotte NC as well. All I’d heard about NC (though it could be in SC) was the infamous institution formerly known as the School of the Americas. I didn’t want AB to go anywhere near there. Some of its graduates haven’t been keen on radical lefties in the past …

    Anyhoo it’s Mother’s Day/Mothering Sunday here in Blighty. Paddy’s Day and Mother’s Day all in one weekend – the card manufacturers must be making a fortune.

  18. Ian says:

    Ooops! My bad! Apparently that infamous school is in Georgia. If only you could see my blushes!!!!

  19. Kaptain Equinox says:

    Go for it. Santa Fe? Should be infinitely better than Charlotte.

  20. c says:

    I’m glad you’re going on vacation. Enjoy the southwest.

  21. nic h says:

    ”Paddy’s Day and Mother’s Day all in one weekend – the card manufacturers must be making a fortune. ”

    Did you see the card in clintons to ”mother from her unborn baby”

    oh yes, so true. there was another card to mother but it was from someone ( I cant remember who) who definitly wasnt son or daughter (or S in law or D in law).

  22. Silvio Soprani says:

    Just want to note here that it’s perfectly okay with me if Alison goes “radio silent” while she is on vacation. It’s refreshing to truly “get away” for a while. Since we track Alison’s every move (literally) here, a true vacation for her might well involve our not knowing exactly where she is for the next week or so. Well, we know it’s the mysterious deserts and mountains of New Mexico, but that still leaves a lot of leeway for her to disappear. If she wants to.[sorry–projecting my SCORPIO attitude…]

    And luckily, we are all such good company for each other whenever she leaves us “home alone.”

    BY THE WAY…cybercita, just started reading THE FOUNTAIN OVERFLOWS by Rebecca West, on your recommendation. (Don’t anybody give me spoilers, please! i am only about 30 pgs into it…)

    Her tone reminds me of a cross between Louisa May Alcott and E. Nesbitt—that serious tone of a child in a serious time (during wars, poverty, etc) aggravated by her advanced intelligence and the obviously fine yet quirky character of her parents. I like it but I am a little worried about what is in store for our heroine and her sibings. Also, West has a rather suspenseful plot technique.

    Thanks so much for the recommendation, cybercita and PLEASE don’t any body tell me anything about what is going to happen in the book.

  23. Pam I says:

    The butler did it.

  24. little gator says:

    NOw I’ve got it! The vulture is after the burrito!

    After a relative was in a spectacular car crash that destroyed the car and nearly destroyed her(she got better) I was one of a party who went to the car yard to salvage the cargo. Most of it was amazingly unharmed, but the groceries had been sitting in an open car in the sun for a couple of weeks, in a warmish September.

    I hadn’t known maggots would eat veggies, but I do now.

  25. little gator says:


    The falcon was a fake.

  26. Nell says:

    Alison, I hope you enjoy your vacation! I just read your March 15 posting about the lesbian who came to your reading with her gay father. That was me! Ever since I read Fun Home, I have been pondering the many points of intersection between your story and mine. I’ll be e-mailing your off the blog about this, and my father wants to e-mail you too, so you’ll be hearing from both of us if you can get caught up with your e-mail backlog at some point.

    By the way, my father and I were both on vacation in Fort Lauderdale at the time we met you. My partner and I had arranged to spend a week there overlapping with my dad and his partner. (My dad and I live in different cities now.) What an interesting coincidence that we happened to be there at the same time you were visiting!

    Any other lesbians with gay fathers out there?

  27. Supporter says:

    On another note — “Fun Home” and “Blankets” (by Craig Thompson) are back on the shelves of the public library in Marshall, MO. Here is the story:

  28. cybercita says:


    i LOVE e. nesbit! i just gave a little boy i discharged from therapy a copy of the enchanted castle as a going away gift.

    the fountain overflows is autobiographical. what an amazing life rebecca west lived.

  29. Maggie Jochild says:

    silvio and cybercita — major e. nesbit fan here, too. my favorite of all, i think, is the chapter in “five children and it” when they wish for wings. especially the meal they steal from the rectory window — seems like such a very english and child’s version of a feast.

  30. cybercita says:


    i don’t think i read that one, or if i did, i don’t remember it.

    off to the library…

  31. meg says:

    O, ‘the five children and it’ is wonderful! When the oldest girl becomes as beautiful as the sun…

    though I do remember reading it as an adult and picking up on some not so fun stuff I didn’t notice (and no doubt absorbed anyway) as a child. Ah, well, it was the era.

  32. Lydia says:

    I skimmed all the replies to your blog and didn’t see it mentioned, so I just have to recommend that you visit “Ten Thousand Waves”. It’s a Japanese spa with a great public women-only tub that you can soak in for as long as you’d like for $12 (give or take) with easy access to a cold plunge and sauna. The kimonos are cute, the teas are delicious and the lotions smell great! I go there every time I’m in Santa Fe.

    Also, delicious pumpkin posole at the Santa Fe Cafe (I think that’s what its called) on the square.

    enjoy your vacation!

  33. Silvio Soprani says:

    maggie and cybercita,

    I have not read “The Five Children and It.” (List gets longer yet!)

    In the American Visionary Art Museum here in Baltimore there was an exhibit a few years ago about war and peace. (Every exhibit has a theme; all the art is “Outsider Art” by people not specifically trained as artists; just people who respond to life with art (and that would be different from other artists how?…)

    Anyway, there was a quotation on the wall from E. Nesbitt, if I am not mistaken, that read “Every War Contains the Seeds of the Next War.”

    I thought that pretty much summed it all up.

    It was THE RAILWAY CHILDREN (by E. Nesbitt) that reminded me so much of THE FOUNTAIN OVERFLOWS. There is a ton of stress over money in both stories. And a worrying mother who doesn’t get much help from the “genius” father in both too.

    Not exactly beach reading, either one of them. Still, one cannot resist reading them.

  34. liza says:

    And Eddie Izzard plays It – or the voice of It – in the movie version of the five children and it, which I haven’t seen but was also one of my favorite books growing up.

  35. cybercita says:

    haven’t read the railway children either. now that i think about it, i may have only read the enchanted castle… most unlike me, normally when i read a book i like, i get a bit obsessed and have to devour the author’s entire oeuvre. i’ve been like that since i was a child and read all of the laura ingalls wilder books and all of the oz books back to back. as i said, off to the library.

  36. Maggie Jochild says:

    Well, cybercita, then also check out The Would-Be-Goods (just as wonderful as Five Children and It) and the Book of Dragons. Especially the story about how housecats came from dragons.

    Yeah, Silvio, the stress over money is a constant in Nesbit’s stories, and very well done. But Nesbit was quite the class radical.

    Izzard’s voice as the Psammead is genius casting. I’ll have to rent it.

  37. Lizzie from London says:

    Yet another E. Nesbit fan here. I recently re-read The Wouldbegoods. It’s so cleverly written and captures perfectly that childhood feeling of getting into a piece of naughtiness that you know is going too far but is too much fun to stop. It’s written in the third person but the boy writing it tries not to disclose who he is but of course does by the things he says about himself and how eminently sensible he is. Very funny to the adult eye. The magical ones are good too I agree.

  38. Maggie Jochild says:

    Hey, for the birders — our local PBS station is playing “Winged Migration” on Monday evening. Not sure if this is nationwide, however, as we’re having our pledge week here.

  39. JK says:

    I hope AB and the other strandees get big fat freebies of some sort for being stranded for so long. Glad you posted about it, it was a funny story to read and also made the news story real. It reminded me a “Planes Trains and Automobiles”…

  40. RES says:

    I’m so confused! When you get stranded, courtesy of an airline, do they not pick up the tab??

  41. Ellen Orleans says:

    In my experience, if it’s a weather-related delay, customers have to fend for themselves. If it is mechanical, the airline will put you up. Sometimes.

  42. xckb13 says:

    My favorite tag for airline experiences that you don’t get reimbursed for (i.e., mainly weather) is “acts of God.” Such a convenient scapegoat: no 1-800 hotline to call and complain to.

  43. --MC says:

    E. Nesbit is brilliant. My personal favorite of hers is “The Enchanted Castle” (a copy of which was on Noel Coward’s nightstand when he died, by the way), with “The Railway Children” a close second. The scene in “Castle” with the Ugly Wugglies coming to life and menacing the children is scarier than everything Stephen King has ever written.

  44. silvio soprani says:

    I am like that too. I often devour everything the author has written (although sometimes I have to wrap up leftovers because TIME gets in the way!)

    Thanks to all the E. Nesbit (one t I guess) fans for the recommendations of her other titles.

    Just a reminder–Eddie Izzard’s (and Minnie Driver’s) new tv series, THE RICHES,on the FX channel is on tonight (at 10 pm on the East Coast…don’t know about the rest of you.)

    Love the nod to cross-dressing in the script–his youngest son (about 8 or 9 yrs old, I’d say) wears a wig and a girl’s dress. In the first episode it took me a second viewing to figure out that the “little girl” in the opening scene when he scams the alumni reunion is actually his son. He peels off the wig on the way out of the hotel. (I spent the rest of the episode counting how many children he had…)

  45. cybercita says:

    you can actually read a few of e nesbit’s books online, although i tried for a while last night and gave up.

    off to the library.

  46. Patti in Santa Fe says:

    Dear Alison,

    I live just outside of Santa Fe. If you need some advice about where to go or what to do while you’re in New Mexico, or if you need a little company, give a call. I sent you an e-mail with my phone numbers. This is a very gay friendly town and also a hub for Arts and Culture in the Southwest.

    I read Fun Home and loved it. It’s brilliant.

    Have a great vacation!

  47. Tera says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about you getting stranded in NC and having to go through so much to get it sorted out : ( sounds like a travel nightmare. glad you had your laptop to keep you entertained a bit while you were on hold !
    have a great trip!

  48. Suzanonymous says:

    Have a nice vacay.

  49. ShelleyAlb says:

    If you are spending time in Albuquerque, you can always check out It’s the local city blog here, and the place I check to see what’s happening in town; or if I’m outta town, and need a Burque fix.

    Enjoy the great southwest! We set a couple of record highs this past week. The trees and flowers are blooming (as are many of our allergens), the mountains look beautiful, and the river is fully flowing from the spring snow melt.

  50. silvio soprani says:

    I have never gotten as far as Santa Fe, but I did go through Albuquerque once, and I stayed in this very nifty hotel/motel in Gallop.

    (At the time, looking around at the desolate terrain, I remember puzzling to myself why in the world they would chose that area to take the Poll. I later found out Gallop, NM has nothing to do with the Gallop Poll. You may all laugh at my expense; I certainly did!)

    Anyway, this hotel was used in the 1930s or 40s to house the actors for all those old cowboy movies. Even the motel part of it was not tacky; it had real furniture and just felt nice. And for breakfast I had some delicious green chile with my eggs…kind of a watery gravy with shreds of beef and peppers in it…sounds weird for breakfast but it was actually delicious.

  51. silvio soprani says:

    Sooner or later, all of my posts involve food.

  52. Deena in OR says:

    Off topic linguistics question:

    I was recently discussing my daughter and her peer group with some friends, when we discovered an interesting usage question.

    If her female friends are most properly described as “Latina”, does that make her “Angla”?

    “Caucasian” is so cumbersome a word. Not that labels matter, anyway.

  53. geogeek says:

    Re: Angla: this is generally relevant to a question I’ve had for a while about non-sexist language in languages with gendered nouns. It’s been enough of a battle to persuade friends of mine that the mail carrier brings the mail and fire fighters are the ones in the shiny red trucks – how does the radiacal feminist Spanish-speaking community think about el/la/los/las? I never really got over the irritation I felt in jr. high when I was told that a group of females was “las,” but as soon as there was _ONE_ male, the pronoun switched to “los.” Is this just an Angla hang-up? Do el/los sound neuter to the Spanish-speaking ear?

  54. FEMINISTA says:

    Hola companeras/os–I’d wondered about the Anglo/a
    a thing too,but things do change.On the other hand,Anglo is not a Spanish word. Right now I’m working on getting my Latina daughter to stop saying,in a derogatory tone,”that WHITE girl.” Which is ironic because she is biologically half white.

  55. Deena in OR says:

    Feminista-Welcome home!

  56. Bob says:

    After three days of my own travel nightmare (on the way home from SF to Boston, they stranded me in Pittsburgh), I finally arrived back home late last night. When I got to baggage claim at Logan, almost every square inch of available floorspace was covered with stranded luggage that had arrived before its owners had; my estimate is that there were about 900 pieces in all. Floating out over this scene came the standard recorded announcement: “Please alert the Department of Homeland Security if you see any unattended luggage.” I kid you not.

  57. Maggie Jochild says:

    No such thing as an off-type linguistics question, not on this blog.

    Here in Central Texas (approximately 35% Hispanic) you have to ask folks do they prefer Latina/o, Hispanic, or Mexican-American, because preferences run strong. But Anglo is universally considered to be a carry-over of the old racist system in school where anglo meant not just white but also the better citizens. So, for instance, in medical reports we are told to never type “Anglo” even if a doctor dictates it, just as we would never use “Negroid” althoug some old white guys will dictate that term, too. For official purposes, we are to substitute Hispanic.

    Which of course makes me think of the Marga Gomez joke about how come her people are called Hispanic — is there an island called Hispanica?

    I recently taught my godson why saying Oriental had racist origins and is linguistically sloppy. It literally means Eastern, but Asia is not east of us here — it only has relevance if you were in Great Britain or Europe, and it’s a dismissive way of referring to a vast portion of the world. Asian is preferred by the folks I know and more precise to boot.

    Caucasian is also rotten at its origins and I don’t use it anywhere. It derives from an old system of classifying “the races” which had three main categories: Mongoloid (i.e., Asian); Negroid (you figure it out); and Caucasoid or Caucasian (literally meaning those descended from the Caucasus mountains, but a code term for white people). This designation system was never anything but white-supremacist, and Caucasian is meaningless at its base. I use European-American if I mean the cultural ethnicity and I can’t be more accurate, or white if I literally mean referring to skin color — and having to stop and think about that difference is really helpful and instrumental. There was a GREAT essay recently at Alternet about “Why Sexist Language Matters” that I think is equally applicable to why non-racist language matters, located at

    Re the gendered terms in Espanol, I like using default female unless I’m corrected, because it makes folks think. Challenges the “man = everybody” bullshit paradigm. It’s helpful that I can often think in Spanish, however.

    Feminista, yeah, the derogatory tone of “WHITE girl” is off, but I do applaud folks identifying race for whites as often as they do for non-whites. Again, while typing medical reports, non-white physicians will seldom identify the race of a patient UNLESS they are non-white — white is the default. So now when I describe people, I automatically include race, and the designator “white” is again thought-provoking.

    My daughter’s husband, who is mixed race (African-American and European-American) and was raised in both communities, alternating between them, refers to his children lovingly as “mu-light-os”, a skin color designation. Which I find upsetting, given the extremely difficult history of mulatto labels in the South. But hey, he’s solidly from the black community, so while I’d never use the term, I think I should not interrupt whatever reclamation or commentary he’s doing.

    Silvio — sooner or later, all your posts make me hungry. In very good ways.

  58. Deena in OR says:


    Hmmm…either I’m out of the loop (quite possible), or Anglo hasn’t acquired the racist/supremacist overtones up here. In fact, I run into it often used as a value-equal term to Latina/o, by people endeavoring to do/say the “right” thing.

    And while I can completely understand your feelings of upset, your son-in-law’s lovingly mocking reclaimation/revision of mu-light-os makes me smile.

    A bit like lesbians reclaiming the word “dyke”, perhaps?

  59. Maggie Jochild says:

    Yeah, I’d like to hear from others in other places about the Anglo thing, because Tejas has a very specific history of anti-Mexican institutionalized terminology. I mean, when you steal an entire state, you gotta go out of your way to squash the culture you’re supplanting. When I was in elementary school, it was still forbidden to speak Spanish anywhere on the school grounds (even in a town that was 85% Hispanic), and “Anglo” language/culture/control was the overriding mantra.

    Especially would like to hear from non-whites, although it’s looked to me like this list is fairly white.

    And yeah, reclamation is messy, particularly if folks are using humor (which is a GOOD thing). Part of the territory. The dyke example is one I use often inside my head. Along with “Any difficulty I have with your difficulty is still my difficulty”, of course.

  60. shadocat says:

    Maggie-about the whole “what should we call white people thing”;

    A few years ago, my kid (I know, ssems like everything I write involves my kids-sorry) worked as a sacker in a neighborhood grocery store. One day while goofing off, an African-American co-worker chastised one of the other sackers by saying, “Man, you are SO white!” My kid replied, “Hey, I’m white!” “No”, said the A/A boy, “You’re

    whatever that means…

  61. Ian says:

    It’s very interesting. Hispanic as a designation must come from the Latin name for Iberia – Hispania. Or a more recent derivation may be from the island of Hispaniola.

    In Britain ‘oriental’ isn’t considered particularly racist. Archaic and inaccurate with certain imperialist undertones, yes, but if we want to be racist we use other expressions.

    There was recently on British TV a programme called “100% English” which genetically tested people to see where, in fact, their ancestry lay. Apart from watching the test results lay to waste people’s personal concepts of their English identity – for instance Mrs Thatcher’s daughter had Middle Eastern ancestry somewhere – they gave definitions for 3 broad ‘races’.

    The terms they used were Indo-European rather than Caucasian. This included all of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Afghan, Iranian, etc) and the top two thirds of the Indian sub-continent. The next was Sub-Saharan Africa instead of Negroid. The next was indeed Mongoloid, used for most of Asia and the native inhabitants of both American continents. They didn’t really mention a fourth which would have to be ‘Polynesian’ (my term, not the programme makers), i.e. Australian Aborigines, pacific islanders, Maori, etc. Incidentally, recent archaeological digs have discovered that the original inhabitants of South America may well have been ‘Polynesian’.

    It was fascinating to watch as the results did change some people’s views on race. One woman who had never set foot in a Chinese restaurant was quite pleased to find out she was partially descended from Genghis Khan’s Mongol hordes!!!

  62. Jana C.H. says:

    Now that I’ve recovered from this vicarious trip through the woes of modern transport (been off-line for three days; hardware trouble)– and bearing in mind that in AB’s situation I would have been a puddle on the floor with a migraine on top– I plan to visit the Travel-and-Adventure section of my library and haul down “My Journey to Lhasa” by Alexandra David-Neel, one of my favorite travel writers of all time. I recommend Madame David-Neel (I never think of her in other terms) to one and all.

    Bon Voyage, Alison! Soak up some global warming while you can, and try to find a few artistic maps of New Mexico.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Floss Forbes: If you don’t know the tune, sing tenor.

  63. FEMINISTA says:

    Deena–Thanks for welcoming me back. I have lots of stories to tell, but right now I’m recovering from a nasty intestinal virus I contracted at the airport. Taking zinc,vitamin C,eating bananas and pushing the fluids.

    Maggie–I agree with you that it’s important to ID race for whites.JoAnn Loulan apparently uses “people of palor” jokingly. I remember Sandra Cisneros writing that the only time she uses the term Hispanic is when she’s writing a grant application; she’s preferred Latina/o for many years. But you’re right that there’s a difference of opinion on what terms to use,and I try to respect people’s choices.My daughter identifies as Latina,though she refers to her boyfriend as Mexican because he was born in Michoacan.
    And I too would like to hear from people of color on this issue.

  64. Pam I says:

    UK variations: Black (or Black British) people, not african-british. Asian here is Asian subcontinent of India, Pakistan + Bangladesh. We have the ghastly term BME – Black+Minority Ethnic – this has become a bureaucratic standard. As ethnic originally meant heathen and/or pagan – or at least not judeo-xtian – I’ve always wondered how it slipped so neatly into being the preferred term. People of Colour is seldom used here. There’s some resistance to “Americanisms”, maybe that’s why?
    And white is white – not Anglo/a. There have been some good discussions in last few years re white identity + whether we’re english ot british. English is often seen as white, british is not. Wiki for the 16 racial groups on tick-box forms – or 16+1, to allow for “not stated”. London schools reckon 160 languages spoken…

  65. Beatrice from AZ says:

    I also find the whole racial/color name business confusing.
    As a Latina, I know that my ancesters came from Mexico and my generation is the first to leave the Catholic faith and not be fluent Spaish speakers. But we never say that we are “white” or American without the Mexican. Interesting–huh? We also never refer to ourselves as Hispanics since we have read it is a derogatory term.

    Even though I have been in AZ for a dozen years, I am a transplanted Texan. My family is in Houston and San Antonio and it is fascinating to hear which ones are more involved with language and cultural issues. Our parents were deeply concerned about us being independent in the mainstream world so we were not addressed in Spanish during our childhood except in very basic terms to help us understand Latin. Our English speaking/reading skills were always encouraged. As adults we have learned to speak Spanish, some of that as a result of our wish to be closer to our relatives.

    I am sorry to say that I have referred to folks on occasion as “white” but I will say I am uncomfortable doing it. Yet, a respectful term escapes me. I abhor the term “gringo” as it is not at all polite.

    This is an interesting subjct to me, thanks for bringing it up.

  66. Jana C.H. says:

    Now “white” is a racist term? And “Oriental”, which is merely unfashionable, and geographically makes no more or less sense than “Asian”. This has gone beyond ridiculous. Unless, of course, everyone is engaged in an elaborate exercise in irony that I somehow missed.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Arthur Pinero: Where there is tea there is hope.

  67. Lizzie from London says:

    Ian – re. original inhabitants of South America being Polynesian wasn’t that what the Kon-tiki voyage set out to prove ? Or was that journey the other way round? (i.e from South America to Polynesia ?) See book by Thor Heyerdahl if kon-tiki is unknown to you. I never hear it mentioned these days and read it when I was about 12 (some 40 years ago – gulp).

  68. Deena in OR says:

    Jana C.H.- I don’t know that “white” is a racist term any more than “black” is…they’re both just inaccurate. I’m actually light peachy pink.

    As I’ve heard it, white and black can be interpreted as racist terms because of the verbal/moral stereotypes we attach to the color names….”white/pure as snow”, “black as sin”. There is a cultural bias toward “white” as purity/innocence/goodness, and “black” as evil/bad/dirty.
    But I’m sure you know all that. 🙂 Personally, I wouldn’t use those color names as racial descriptors because I wouldn’t want to be misunderstood or misinterpreted as thinking that way. It’s a fine hair, and yet I split it.

  69. xckb13 says:

    Lizzie from London – Thor Heyerdahl actually set out to prove that things were the other way around: that Polynesia was first settled by people from South America, although he never claims that today’s Polynesians are descendants of these original South American inhabitants (they were supposedly all killed off by other settlers in the murky depths of centuries past). His claims are now widely considered discredited by overwhelming proof that Polynesia was actually settled from West to East. Incidentally, Jared Diamond’s book Collapse includes some fascinating chapters on Easter Island and several other ancient Polynesian societies, and the Kon-Tiki is mentioned in passing.

  70. Doctor E says:

    Madagascar is also populated by “polynesians.” They didn’t have the numbers to successfully settle the African mainland, and the native Africans didn’t have the nautical technology to mount a sucessful invasion of Madagascar.

    Or such is my understanding.

  71. Jana C.H. says:

    Re: Human Migrations. An interesting book is “The Journey of Man” by Spencer Wells, which traces human migration out of Africa by means of genetic markers on the Y chomosome– hence the word “Man” in the title. Apparently the earliest Homo sapiens to leave the motherland went from the Horn of Africa beachcombing along the southern shore of Asia and Indonesia all the way to Australia, where they became the ancestors of today’s Aborigines.

    The big explosion came somewhat later through the Middle East, but Europe (except the Balkans) was not primarily populated from there. Middle Easterners followed the steppes and grasslands east on either side of the mountains of Central Asia. The northern branch went all the way to Siberia, where some of them turned west and eventually reached Europe. Others, combined with some Southern Beachcombers, ended up in the Americas.

    According to this book, the Polynesians and the people of Madagascar originated in Taiwan (which was not inhabited by Han Chinese until practically yesterday). Madagascar and Polynesia were unoccupied by humans until the migrants from Asia arrived.

    The science is all fairly new, but the evidence looks good (though I confess I give up Thor Heyerdahl’s theories with a pang). The beginning of the book gets a little hairy at times with molecular biology, but that passes. An interesting angle is the theory that early Homo sapiens may have looked a lot like the San people of southern Africa (formerly known as the Bushmen), and may have spoken a “click” language like the San do today. The San were driven out of their homeland– which consisted of most of central and southern Africa– by the Bantu in historic times.

    I have just lent my copy of “The Journey of Man” to a co-worker, who had lent me a copy of “Guns, Germs, and Steel” by Jared Diamond. The two books make some interesting connections. When you’re dealing with race, it helps to get a long view.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Mark Twain: No tribe, however insignificant, and no nation, however mighty, occupies a foot of land that was not stolen.

  72. Lizzie from London says:

    Jared Diamond came up at our book group the other day. Thanks for putting me straight about Thor Heyerdahl. I suppose it stands to reason that the easiest way for humans to migrate is over land, over time, rather than building a few boats and setting sail into the unknown.

    Jana – your Mark Twain quotation reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s “Every document of civilization is also a document of barbarism.” First steal your land …

  73. Jana C.H. says:

    I guess Thor Heyerdahl?s ideas had pretty much been knocked out by blood typing anyway. But he takes up about a third of the “South Seas” section of my Travel-and-Adventure library. He’s such a fun read, and so persuasive.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith E.G. Forbes: Never spoil a good story with too much truth.

  74. Pam I says:

    I thoughtKonTiki was a record by The Shadows.

  75. mlk says:

    back to the race/language discussion for a moment . . .

    when I ask how people self identify (part of my work), I hear “black” more often than “African American.” maybe “white” as purity/innocence/goodness, and “black” as evil/bad/dirty has lost some of its power? maybe “black” Americans are rejecting a label given them by “white” culture? in my experience, “Native Americans” generally identify themselves as “Indian” or “American Indian” or by their tribe.

    the discussion about “hispanic” or “latina/o” or Mexican American (or whatever) opens new territory for me.

  76. Jana C.H. says:

    Or maybe people prefer to use a short, punchy, vivid one-syllable Saxon word instead of a long, pompous, tongue-twisting seven-syllable Latin word.

    Remember the rule on how to write like a bureaucrat, academic, or educator: Never use a word of one syllable when you can employ two or utilize three.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith JcH: Those who can’t write poetry write prose; those who can’t write prose, write free verse; those who can’t write free verse use emoticons.

  77. Lizzie from London says:

    Pam – perhaps you are thinking of Telstar ?

  78. Pam I says:

    KonTiki was a Shadows no.1 in 1961. Telstar by the Tornados was their 1962 no.1. The latter was one of Margaret Thatcher’s Desert Island Discs. If you ever wondered how they got those space age sounds: those meant to symbolize radio signals were produced by Joe Meek running a pen around the rim of an ashtray, and the “rocket blastoff” at the start of the record was actually a flushing toilet.

    Both singles should still be in my sister’s attic somewhere.

  79. Silvio Soprani says:

    Is this the same SHADOWS that contained Cliff Richard? Does that mean they recorded an instrumental, and if so, was that pre- or post- Cliff?

    I seem to recall that the BEATLES got their break backing up Cliff Richard on a single of “My Bonnie.” He must not have had the Shadows at that point or he would not have needed the Beatles.

    I “borrowed” Heyderdahl’s KON TIKI off my big brother’s bookshelf sometime in the 60s and was intrigued. (I think I was about 11 or 12. ) Interesting to hear about Jared Diamond and Spencer Wells from Jana.

  80. Pam I says:

    I just wiki’d to refresh my memory of being an 11-y-o cliff devotee… the Shadows were cliff’s backing group for decades. There’s a man-by-man listing of all the personnel changes. Hank Marvin is most noteable. They made loads of instrumental singles (concurrent with backing cliff), with several no 1’s (including in the US?). Early beatles backed Tony Sheridan IIRC. Yip:
    Todays crazy random fact – Polydor released the album My Bonnie across Germany. The word “Beatles” was judged to sound too similar to the German “Pidels” (pronounce peedles), the plural of a slang term for penis, so the album was credited to “Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers”.

  81. Silvio Soprani says:

    Oh you’re right. Tony Sheridan it was.

    I do recall back in the day that the Germans called the Beatles “The Beat Boys” so I suppose that is related to the reason you mentioned.

    Apparently that same reasoning did not kick in when the band Shocking Blue had a hit called “I’m Your Venus” around 1969. I remember hearing it in the car and thinking, “Are they allowed to sing ‘penis’ on the radio?”

    Now I remember why I know Cliff Richard’s name: his hit “Little Children” was HUGE in the US around 1963-ish. I don’t remember ever seeing him on tv, but I always loved his voice.

    Americans knew about him because of all the interviews with the Beatles, who mentioned him often, but he never became a big name in the US, apart from that one hit.

  82. Pam I says:

    Hard to believe Cliff’s non-fame in the US as he was THE man here for years n years n years… and he goes on, refusing to age. And is still mysteriously single.

  83. Pam I says:

    Silvio: “Little Children” was by Billy J Kramer (+ the Dakotas) who had a run of hits here with Lennon/McCartney songs. It was his first US no. 1. Cliff never recorded it. They both looked sameish in that white boy clean pop star early 60s style so that must be where your memory crossed over. My memory is so stuck that when they showed Cliff’s Summer Holiday on TV recently, I could remember great chunks of the dialogue, tho I only saw the movie once. How doth the mighty fall. Oh and BJK’s single is also in my sister’s attic.

  84. Silvio Soprani says:

    Okay, I am hopelessly in my dotage. My memory of Beatles stuff is crystal clear, but the “peripheral” information is all jumbled. Sorry about that!

    As far as not aging, my money is still on Ringo. The dude is cuter than ever! At the Concert for George (the year after Harrison’s death,) did you see him in the red jacket with the dragon on it, jumping around and singing at the mic? I suppose playing the drums is good aerobic activity; keeps you young. (Although it didn’t do much for Charlie Watts! )

  85. Pam I says:

    or Keith Moon who leapt highest of all….

  86. Deena in OR says:

    Thread hijacking alert! (grin)

    Since Alison’s away…maybe we can play.

    Worst travel memory/experience ever??

    Mine would have to be trying to travel home from college space available for Christmas my freshman year and getting stuck at McGuire AFB. I spent Christmas Eve sleeping in the ladies room.

  87. Maggie Jochild says:

    Okay, I’m game, Deena. My worst trip eventually turned into one of my best, but — I took the train from Austin to Eugene at Christmas to see an ex, decided to ride three days straight in their disabled car because I was too disabled to fly and I’d never taken a train trip before, the seats were comfy and reclined, etc. But because of train problems, the disabled car was jammed to capacity, including a trio of 70+-year-old tall, muscular farm folk from East Texas who had never traveled away from home, were all mentally ill and decided to stop taking their medications as soon as they got on the train. Two brothers and one sister. They spent all their money the first day on cake and pie (apparently sugar was a forbidden treat in the home where they had been living), became manic and could not sleep or shut up all night, and the train personnel were far too overwhelmed to deal with them. So all us crips stuck in that car tried to manage. One brother became physically threatening, scaring one poor old diabetic so badly he stopped going to the toilet and pissed his seat. They were hyperreligious and completely out of touch where they were by the second day. The train got delayed by six hours, sitting out the middle of the desert. When they finally got off the train in L.A., we all cheered and wept. After that, everything was heavenly.

  88. Deena in OR says:

    Have a different story to tell…not the worst, but certainly the most quirky.

    My parents were living in Japan, and sent tickets to my family to come see them. My family then consisted of my husband, me, a four year old train-crazy son, and an eight month old daughter.

    Complication number one-
    I opened my daughter’s diaper while on the plane from Portland to Tokyo to discover…CHICKENPOX!!!! By the time we got to Narita, she had poxes on her face as well. We got through Immigration by draping her with a blanket and miming that she was sleeping.

    Complication number two-
    My parents were living in Northern Japan. We had to take a couple of trains to get to where they lived. My mom had sent very clear written instructions about where to go, and how to make the transfers. Unfortunately, hubby and I had an *extremely* difficult time trying to find the rail station. Picture me in the middle of rush hour in Tokyo, baby in baby sling on my hip, trying to find someone, anyone, who spoke English and would point out the Ueno station to me.

    Imagine my profound embarassment when someone finally took pity on me and showed me that I was standing directly *in front* of the train station asking for directions to it. In my own defense, it looked like a shopping mall, not any train station I’d ever seen.

    So we make it onto the train…long wait in a dirty train station, but that’s OK. At least we’re there.

    Sleeper cars…we had two booths. After turfing out the squatters that were in our berths, we settle in, each with a child. This is a wonderful way to travel with kids, by the way.

    We get up in plenty of time before our station. We’d been warned that train stops are *very* short, and that we had very little time to get off at our station. We were prepared, we thought.

    We didn’t get off in time, and missed the Misawa stop. I somehow managed to explain the situation to the conductor (I don’t speak any Japanese, he didn’t speak any English), and he radioed ahead and arranged for us to be on the next train in the other direction. Being a young mom with cute, well behaved kids didn’t hurt, either. We were met by an attendant at the next stop, who walked us to the right platform and made *sure* we got on the train going back.
    We met my dad at the station half an hour later, with tales to tell.

  89. Silvio Soprani says:

    Ok, I’m game.
    My worst trip also became my best. Way back in the 70s I took a train from Deland, FL to Denver, CO. I boarded around midnight in Deland (a rural northern Florida town that looks very “southern.”) There were not many seats left at that hour, but I found one near the window. In the middle of the night, a very large man got on and sat next to me. He was very drunk, and kept leaning on me and snoring, in spite of me pushing him off repeatedly.. I was only in my 20s then. Finally, enraged at his encroachment of my space, I heaved him away from me with all my might…and he landed in the aisle!

    The porter scolded me not being more understanding, in spite of my explaining that the fellow was drunk! I think eventually he got off, and the rest of my trip was great.

    About a year later I needed to travel back to Denver from San Francisco, and I bought a ticket on the “Grey Rabbit.” This was a hippie bus company. They had bought a fleet of old Greyhound buses, removed the seats, and built in a bunk in the back for the spare driver. They had a buddy system, where you made friends with two people before any rest stops and then you made sure they got back on the bus.

    we broke down in Salt Lake City and were stuck there for 8 hours. (The local police were not thrilled to see all these hippies strolling through town.)

    That bus was a very fun experience. Kind of like a safer form of hitchhiking. I think in 1976 it cost $20 to go from San Francisco to Denver. Wonder how long that business lasted? Anybody heard of it?

  90. Pam I says:

    OK here’s mine – my honeymoon! 1970. We married on august bank holiday weekend. The plan was to hitch from london to scotland, the Isle of Mull – about 500 miles. What we hadnt calculated was that on bank holidays there are no lifts to be had – no commercial traffic (days before 24/7 supermarket deliveries) and all family cars full up, The first day we got as far as Grantham, birthplace of our glorious PM Margaret Thatcher. Gave up and put the tent down on the side of the M1 motorway. Next day much better, got to Glasgow, to a building site. We were in a truck carrying a great load of sewer pipe liners – heavy concrete tubes about 18″ across. The driver said he’d sleep in the cab and we could sleep in the back. Inside the concrete tubes. We did too – at least being august it wasnt totally freezing. Next day we got to Mull and lived happlily ever after (for three more years).

  91. Maggie Jochild says:

    Silvio, yes, I remember Grey Rabbit and Green Tortoise — I’m pretty sure Green Tortoise is still running from the Bay Area up to the Pacific Northwest. Still a hippie alternative form of transportation. This wasn’t my worst trip, but it was SOMEBODY’s — my ex (the same one I went to Eugene to visit) became a driver for Green Tortoise, and on her first solo gig, driving from Eugene to San Fran, she ignored a brake light on the dash until the wheel bearings caught on fire. She managed to pull the bus over, somewhere in Northern California in the middle of the night, and get everyone off the bus safely, before it went up in flames. Burned to a crisp, with everybody’s luggage on it. When she called me to tell me about it, she couldn’t believe those nice hippie employers had fired her.

  92. Deena in OR says:

    They’re still there…in fact, there’s a group trip to Burning Man. Ah, in another lifetime, what a gas that trip would be.

  93. silvio soprani says:

    The “Green Tortoise!” Far out!

  94. Lizzie from London says:

    Loved all the stories though Maggie’s has to take the prize – shades of whoever wrote “A Good man is Hard to Find”. (It will come back to me but will probably come back to one of you lot before).

    Two worst travel experiences:

    1) 1973 as an exchange student to Madison Wisconsin, I decided to travel out to the West Coast by Greyhound bus and hit Omaha Nebraska on my own on Thanksgiving Day with 12hours or so to wait for my next bus. I think that was the occasion some down and out guy wandered round me in circles fumbling extesively for change in his pocket. Well, I was innocent in those days. Eventually got to Laguna Beach and ate a banana split. Jumped on the next bus out to make my way to Flagstaff to see Grand Canyon and threw up on bus (cream must have been off). All ended well becasue a cute young man took pity on me and took me home to Ma and Pa in Oaklahoma City but I never did see the Grand Canyon.

    2. Ghastly cmping holiday to Corsica – 12 people in one mini bus. No one could agree where to go or what to do so the holiday was one long series of sessions in cafes arguing. One couple were at each other’s throats having rows in public. Mediterranean storm one night flooded us out and drenched everything and there I was, soaked in the dark on an unknown camp site with diarrhoea looking for the loos (Just realised both these stories involve my alimentary tract – sorry -).

  95. Maggie Jochild says:

    I dunno, Lizzie, I think the camping trip to Corsica might be the winner. The diarrhoea especially (love getting to spell it the UK way).

    Although Deena having to sleep in a women’s restroom could be even grimmer, depending on the condition of the restroom. (Loo.)

  96. Feminista says:

    Lizzie from London–My understanding is Bessie Smith sang (and possibly wrote) “A Good Man is Hard to Find”; I’ve seen clips from the movie in which she appears in a bar,singing the blues.

    Worst travel story–This was in 2005;let’s just say the group dynamics sucked,there was much competitive & nasty behavior on the part of 3 individuals,and I got so depressed I made an emergency international cell phone call to my sister. I borrowed the cell from our group leader and said I would reimburse her for the charges. Ended the call early because a group member grabbed the phone from my hand and scolded me loudly for talking too much (about 12 minutes–my sister requires detailed explanations).

  97. Pam I says:

    Then Mae West sang that a hard man is good to find.

  98. Feminista says:

    Yes Pam I,she certainly did. She also quipped,”is that a pistol in your pocket,or are you just happy to see me?”

  99. Lizzie from London says:

    But there’s a writer – possibly Flannery O’Connor who writes bleak short stories one of which is called “A Good man is hard to Find”. They are wonderful (American).

  100. jmc says:

    The clip of Bessie Smith singing in a bar is “St. Louis Blues” (the title of the film and the song). That’s the film that launched my whole diss subject…