Friday, April 02, 2010

Last Step, First Step

May I add my voice to those who believe that, if America wants to have a viable railroad system (and it damn well should), then it needs to make it, well, viable. I won't bore you with all the discomforts and humiliations that our 12.5 hour trip from Montreal to New York entailed except to say that it was absurdly slow and uncomfortable and it didn't need to be that way.

On the bright side, I did finish two hats and about 1/4 of a sock and 3/4 of a book. Being trapped in Amtrak hell does have some benefits. (Note: the staff were lovely. It wasn't people, it was the whole insanely inefficient, broken down system.)

But home we were late last night and this morning I feel a bit like the Amtrak train actually ran over me on the way to Penn Station. The past two weeks have been pretty wild.

We had a day and a half between Boston and Montreal - just enough time to do some laundry and take some naps. By the way, here is a review of Unconditional Yes in The Boston Globe from March 31st.

In Montreal, we had a day to wander around and then I gave a talk at Concordia University, mainly to the fibre art department. Lisa Vinebaum, one of the professors in that department and my host, gave me a tour of their studios before the talk. Just amazing, all of it. I started to write about what was especially impressive and it was sounding a little too rah-rah, so I will just say that I was very, very impressed by it all. There was some loose talk about trying to put a collaborative project together in the future. There are many hurdles to overcome before something like that could happen but I like that the idea is out there. I believe we could make beautiful music together.

So now a moment to rest my head? Not quite yet.

Tonight I will head over to the Zen center in Brooklyn to begin a weekend of tangaryo. This is the last step before officially becoming a student in the Mountains and Rivers Order and of my teacher. I do wish I was a little less tired but sometimes interesting things happen when you are too tired to fight.

It has been a long process to get to this point and yet it is a very first step. It is actually kind of wonderful to begin my two months of quiet life in this way.

5 comments:

dorina said...

ugh . . you know what's really pathetic? is that my sister and i and her 6 and 4 year old sons traveled from union station, los angeles, to union station, hartford, connecticut TWENTY years ago and also had the same train ride from HELL! and things haven't changed!!!!!!! why oh why does america have to have such a lousy train system!????!!! it just makes me so darn mad. and why is it this way? i don't get it! why is amtrak so incredibly BAD?

dorina said...

sorry . . continuing my amtrak rant . . i guess they have improved, because we also had problems with porters and conductors on our trip.

on another note . . i'm happy to hear about your artwork and knitwork and reading and i wish you a peaceful tangaryo weekend.

(wow. i didn't realize how hot under the collar thinking about amtrak can still make me! and it's been twenty years! i guess i'm just amazed at how we can have such a poor rail system . . for so long . . especially after riding the european rails .. but then things don't really go very smoothly in italy . . but then i forgive italy because they are just so fun and charming and i was a guest there. i EXPECT MORE FROM MY HOME COUNTRY!)

Robyn said...

hi Dorina,

I encountered some technical difficulty in posting your comment, so I am copying it here:

ugh . . you know what's really pathetic? is that my sister and i and her 6 and 4 year old sons traveled from union station, los angeles, to union station, hartford, connecticut TWENTY years ago and also had the same train ride from HELL! and things haven't changed!!!!!!! why oh why does america have to have such a lousy train system!????!!! it just makes me so darn mad. and why is it this way? i don't get it! why is amtrak so incredibly BAD?

Robyn said...

Blogger is behaving weirdly.

But to answer your question, my surmise is that the oil/car companies have done their best to squash the railroad and it has been starved almost to death. The cars we were riding in were exactly the same one as you rode in twenty years ago - literally! There has been zero investment in making a functioning passenger railroad in this country. And thus, 12.5 hours to make a trip that would have been 6 hrs. in a car. Short-sighted and misguided.

Patti Blaine said...

I have Amtrak horror stories that would curl/straighten your hair. Which I've probably told you already. I haven't given up on train travel, but I only do it when I have the infinitely rare luxury of time. Lots and lots of time. And if it's winter, I'll bring a blanket... just in case we stand at a frosty standstill in the middle of grape country along the eastern shore of Lake Erie for four hours in the middle of the night long, long, long after we were supposed to pass through there in the first place. And that's one of the kinder gentler horror stories. :)