Well, I made it to Florida. The flight was long, as usual, but uneventful. I didn't have talkers sitting next to me, thank God.
I had a window seat, but I only looked outside a couple of times -- these days, with everyone peering at seatback video screens, it seems taboo to travel with your window shade up. Remember how people used to fly with plenty of daylight in the cabin, looking outside, watching the clouds and whatnot? Nowadays we all fly sealed inside a dark tube of fuselage.
I read all nine-plus hours, which was great. I polished off three issues of The New Yorker and I've almost finished William Finnegan's surfing memoir. As I've said, I'm really enjoying this book, even though it's full of passages like this:
Jeffreys is rocky but not especially shallow. It's a facey wave, a broad canvas for sweeping long-radius turns, including cutbacks toward the hook. It's fast and it's powerful but it's not particularly hollow -- it has no bone-crushing sections a la Kirra. Some waves have flat sections, or weird bumps, or go mushy; others close out. The rule, however, is a reeling wall, peeling continuously for hundreds of yards. My pale blue New Zealand pintail loved that wave. Even at double-overhead, dropping in against the wind, it never skittered.
Now, even knowing that Jeffreys and Kirra are surfing locales and his New Zealand pintail is a favorite board, I have only the vaguest idea what he's talking about with all that surf jargon. But I suspect he's mining it for the poetry of the language. (He mentions writing another book, about railroading, that his editor complained was too full of jargon, and he made just that case for keeping the jargon in.) Anyway, you can imagine just enough of the action to keep it interesting, and most of the book is more generally descriptive of places and personalities.
I'm mostly just jealous of his experiences, traveling around the world for months on end, working odd jobs and selling magazine articles to get by and move on to the next wave. He drove coast-to-coast with a friend as a 16-year-old, and traipsed around Europe with his girlfriend just after graduating from high school. The practical, suburb-dweller side of my brain keeps thinking: "Where are you getting enough money for all this? What about health insurance? How did you talk your parents into allowing you to go?"
Completely unrelated: Why do airlines still give transatlantic customers little underperforming toothbrushes and tubes of yucky toothpaste? Does anyone really use them?
(Photo: Wild poinsettia in my dad's yard.)